Islam integration in Scandinavia & Spain
The four levels of integration of Muslims in the Scandinavian countries are as follows:
1. The general integration of Muslims. So far, Muslims have not been integrated at this level because there is still a persistence of communalism and segregation in housing and the labor market. The public and media’s image of Muslims are still negative in Scandinavian countries as well. For Muslims to feel more integrated, the Swedish laws must change so there is not ethnic discrimination. The Swedish state is currently moving toward the acceptance of the headscarf and must grant Muslim women the right to wear headscarves at the workplace (Hunter, p. 138).
2. The political level. Very few Muslims are active in the Scandinavian political life at a national level and therefore integration at this level is low. Even the actively political Muslims are hardly known as leaders or representatives of Islam’s and Muslims. There are two prototypes of political Muslims portrayed in the media and one is secular (male) and the other is observant (female).
3. The level of religious rituals. “Muslims have attacked the Freedom of Religion Act from 1951 because of restrictions on the Islamic way of slaughtering animals in Sweden” (Hunter, p. 138).
4. The ideological level. This level is quite positive for Muslims in Sweden. Muslims feel like they are a part of the development of what they call Euro-Islam. Muslims are willing to distance themselves from Middle East, Africa and Asia politics in order to create a more “try” Islam in Europe.
Photo Retrieved from: http://dailyscandinavian.com/norways-population-rises/
Currently, there are only 350,000 Muslims in Spain (Hunter, p. 157). There are two reasons why there is not a greater impact of Islam in modern-day Spanish society given the history of Islam in Spain. The first reason is that only in the last 15 years has Spain become a receiver of immigrants. The second reason is that unlike other European countries, Spain has had no lasting colonies in Muslims countries.
The degrees of Muslims integration within the Spanish society differs across each Muslim group. In general, the level of integration is very high in the case of naturalized Muslims and Spanish converts (Hunter, p. 165). But a majority of Muslims are only in Spain for economic reasons and they have a more limited level of integration. Currently, Spanish legislation relating to religion was only developed for Spanish Muslims, but not Muslim immigrants. At the political level, the integration is low. Since most Muslims are immigrants who do not have a Spanish citizenship, it is very difficult for political expression. It also discourages Muslims from forming associations, which in turn makes political parties and trade unions ignore Muslim communities (Hunter, p. 171).
Photo retrieved from: http://www.aquila-style.com/converts-corner/muslim-women-granada-spain/93448/
Something that really stands out to me is how hard it is for Muslims to integrate into European countries. It’s just surprising that it would be so difficult, especially since Europe has such a diverse population in general with people from all over and various backgrounds. You would think Europe would embrace more diversity – especially more than the U.S. It’s interesting how including one more religion into their folds is such a challenge for Europe, why can’t it be easier? It also seems like Muslims are somewhat willing to adapt to their European culture, as long as they can still celebrate their own culture that they know.
Photo Retrieved from: http://www.renegadetribune.com/finishing-off-the-rape-monkeys-in-sweden/
Hunter, S. (2002). Islam, Europe’s Second Religion. Print.