After speaking about Islam’s integration in Italy last week, we now shift over to Scandinavia. In Islam, Europe’s Second Religion, Leif Steinberg explains the four integrated levels for Muslims in Scandinavia:
1) General Integration- Islam has not integrated in at an accepted level for them to be accepted as part of the country’s everyday life. This is indicated by the segregation in housing and in the labor market as well as the persistence of communalism among Muslims. Due to the negative views of Islam, Muslims will have to reinterpret Islam in order to be able to live a life considered in a secular society, and non-Muslims will have to make changes as well in order to accommodate them into their society. The author explains how Swedish government is working towards preventing discrimination in the labor market and the workplace, such as the rule of now accepting headscarves.
2) Political Level- Not many Muslims are active in Scandinavians political life at a national level. The way the media labels the male and female Muslims has a lot to do with the lack of involvement. Men are seen as very stubborn in sticking to their views of Islam and do not consider Swedish political involvement necessary. Women on the other hand, are portrayed as very secular and interested in politics.
3) Religious Rituals- Muslims have been against the Freedom of Religion Act from 1951 because it restricts their way of slaughtering animals. This is just another example of restricting their religion in a sense and Muslims are not fond of it and do not want to integrate.
4) Ideological level- there is room for optimism at this level. Muslims want to be recognized as “Euro-Islam” and are distancing themselves from the political problems in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Muslims in Scandinavia “are willing and able to create a more “true” Islam in Europe (Hunter, 138).
“Despite a past marked by many centuries of Islamic rule, at present Muslims are not numerically significant in Spain, and the Muslim community is Spain, both naturalized and immigrant, totals 350,000” (Hunter, 157). One reason for this is because Spain has only been a receiver of immigrants for the last fifteen years. The other reason is Spain hasn’t had any lasting colonies in Muslims countries, unlike other European countries.
Muslim integration is help to many different degrees within the Spanish society. In terms of naturalized Muslims and Spanish Converts, the level of integration is high. That being said, many immigrants settle in Spain solely for economic purposes, and that limits their level of integration. In terms of a political degree, Spanish legislation has only compromised for the well-being of the Spanish Muslim community and does not extend to Muslim immigrants. The degree at a political level is very low considering many of the Muslim’s are immigrants. There is such a broad area in term of Muslim’s integration within the Spanish society because naturalized Muslims and Spanish converts are being recognized by the government policies, but immigrants are not.
I believe it will be nearly impossible to for Islam to completely integrate in Spain if immigrants are not being recognized. I also find it extremely challenging for Muslims to be more active in the community if “most of Europe’s Muslim communities constitute an underprivileged class, clustered in ghetto like neighborhoods imbued with a culture of deprivation and alienation and with antisocial propensities” (Hunter 274). I believe the media attention and recognition of Islam it is a great sign for Islam as a whole, but I still cant see how Muslims can happily integrate with all the restrictions European’s place on them. Not only is it tough to integrate with the many restrictions placed on Muslims by the government and living as an underprivileged class, but also the people and society still lack the acceptance and care needed for Muslims to feel at home and in peace. Garcia backs this up by explaining how there are many new additions and “structures, including at the neighborhood level, in order to ensure positive and peaceful interaction between Muslims and non-Muslims” (Hunter, 173). I just find it extremely challenging for Muslims to happily integrate in Europe if they not only have to deal with government restrictions, but they also have to be concerned about the lack of acceptance from non-Muslims.
Hunter, S. (2002). “Islam, Europe’s Second Religion.” Print.