Post 12: Islam in Spain and Scandinavian Countries

In “Islam, Europe’s Second Religion,” Shireen T. Hunter discusses the different means by which the integration of Muslims in Scandinavian countries takes place. There are four main levels in which she discusses. First is the general integration of Muslims. This level is about Islam and Muslims being accepted in a country’s everyday life, yet so far Muslims are not integrated at this first level (Hunter, 2002). The difficulty that takes place at this level includes that it requires change and adaptation from both Muslims and Scandinavians. The second level is the political level, where integration is low. Hunter explains that there are two groups, secular and observant, but “most Muslims who are active in party politics in Scandinavia and are present on the public scene are basically secular” (Hunter, 2002). Both secular and observant differ on many issues, mainly the issue of headscarves and women. Third, is the level of religious rituals. Hunter gives us the example, “in Sweden, Muslims have attacked the Freedom of Religion Act from 1951 because of restricts on the Islamic way of slaughtering animals” (Hunter, 2002). Lastly, is the ideological level, which is a more positive level. At this time, Muslims express the idea that they are part of Euro-Islam. These individuals make it clear that they are distancing themselves from the issues going on in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, and instead put forth their efforts to make a more “true” Islam in Europe. These levels may deepen within the Muslim community, as it is difficult to align beliefs between Muslims and Scandinavian countries.

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Hunter explains the main reasons that there is not a greater impact of Islam in modern-day Spanish society. The first thing she points out is that the amount of individuals who hold Spanish citizenship and can be identified as “nationalized Muslims” are limited (Hunter, 2002). The amount of Muslims in Spain is not great enough to make a significant impact. Islam has not held a significant place in the Spanish community since the expulsion of the Moors in 1609. In the twentieth century, Spanish Islam was delayed due to the Catholic state, however religious minority in Spain was still present. This minority was mainly Muslim students studying in Spanish universities and later lived in Spain and got citizenship. Spanish converts are the second and smaller people of the Muslim community in Spain. They live mainly in the southern provinces of Cordoba, Granada, and Seville (Hunter, 2002). Hunter explains that every four or five years, an ‘extraordinary regularization process’ occurs, to give permits for the number of newly arrived immigrants.

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In the conclusion, Hunter explains that Islam is becoming more visible across the globe and is attracting governmental authorities. It has been difficult for Islam to make an impact in the Spanish community, but they are working to improve their religious practices for a second generation. There is also a need for new structures (Hunter, 2002). The structures are to “ensure positive and peaceful interaction between Muslims and non-Muslims” (Hunter, 2002). Steps are being taken to strengthen bonds between Islamic countries in order to fund for places of worship, because these other countries are not much help. The thing that stands out the most to me is the amount that Muslims have to do in order to adapt in different countries outside of their origin. I agree and think it is very necessary to build new structures for religious purposes to make the Islamic community in other countries more able to adapt.

Hunter, S. T. (2002). Islam, Europe’s Second Religion. Wesport , CT : Praeger .

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