Post 12 – Muslims in Scandinavia and Spain

Scandinavian countries  have different degrees of integration for Muslims, all are not positive. The four levels of integration of Muslims in the Scandinavian countries are the general integration of Muslims, integration at the political level, the level of religious rituals, and the ideological level. At the general level of integration, Islam and Muslims need to be an accepted part of everyday life in the different countries.

indexCommunalism plus segregation in housing and the labor market make it hard for Muslims to feel a part of the dominant society, not to mention the negative image the media portrays of Islam and Muslims. Both natives and Muslims need to change in order to integrate and accept each other, respectively; Muslims need to reinterpret Islam in terms of living in a modern/secular society and natives need to make changes in order to accommodate Muslims. Integration at the political level is crucial if Muslims want to actively participate and feel a part of the Scandinavian countries. Political integration is very low and the representatives of Muslims and Islam that are a part of the political system are portrayed by the media as having their own brand of Islam and want the promote that “all-encompassing” brand of Islam. Integration in regards to religious rituals need to be accepted by the dominant society. For example, the religious ritual of slaughtering animals is an issue that is mentioned in the Freedom of Religion Act from 1951 that Muslims have attacked. Finally, integration at the ideological level is actually positive in Sweden. The concept of a Euro-Islam is being developed and the distance from the problems of the Middle East, Africa, and Asian are increasing and the creation of a “true” Islam in Europe is underway.

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There is not really a greater impact of Islam in modern-day Spanish society because the Muslim community in Spain is not significant enough (numbers wise) to cause a great impact. Muslims in Spain are either immigrants of naturalized. Unlike other European countries, Spain only started accepting immigrants in the last fifteen years and they do not really have any colonial rule over any country; their rule in Morocco was short-lived and they only controlled 20,000 square miles in western Sahara. The different degrees of Muslim integration range from high integration of Spanish converts and naturalized Muslims but immigrant Muslims the level of integration is very limited. The religious associations reflect this fact, Spanish Muslims, indigenous or naturalized are more focused on than immigrant Muslims.

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Hunter concludes that, in Spain, bonds between Islamic countries, countries of origin and others, are being strengthened because of the need to fund places of worship because the host country will not help or will make the process difficult. The bonds that are being strengthened cause fear among Spanish authorities that foreign forces may try to manipulate them through intermediary Islamic associations. This further divides the Muslim community and the greater Spanish society. The Muslim community is characterized by dispersion and lack of cohesion, more and more Islam and Muslims are becoming a sensitive topic in Spain. In the Scandinavian countries there is room for optimism because of new interpretations of Islam, but in the social, political, and economic sphere the gap between Muslims and indigenous peoples will become wider. I feel that even though there isn’t a huge Muslim population in Spain, that shouldn’t be the deal breaker when it comes to integration and acknowledgement. There is still a Muslim population that needs to be accommodated for, small or not. I feel like their fear of Islamic countries manipulating them is brought on because they do not integrate the Muslim community into their society. The only reason that the Muslim community has to reach out to their countries of origin is because Spain doesn’t help them in funding for mosques or other things. I am actually surprised that there is room for interpretation in Scandinavian countries like Denmark which is a very anti-Muslim country with very strong opinions of Islam. The main reason for Islamophobia is the lack of education with regards to Islam and the lack of interest in wanting to know more about Islam. People just write off any thing that they don’t understand and that is a very close-minded mentality to have in this day and age.

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