Blog 12: Scandinavia, Spain and Ending Thoughts

There are four levels of integration of Muslims in the Scandinavian countries which are the general integration, political, religious, and ideological.

  1. General Integration

The overall success of this level of integration is that noticeable. Complete success would mean Islam and Muslims would be accepted in the countries’ everyday life. The Scandinavian countries fall short of perfect integration in places such as the housing sector. As we have seen in countries all across Europe, Muslims in Scandinavia have a desire to stay within a Muslim community. Along with that, the housing is segregated as well as in the working field. Hand and hand with the segregation is the general negative perception of Muslims held by Scandinavians. It is a mindset much like the one Americans have. We can see first hand in our country there is a lot more that needs to be changed individually before laws really make a difference. This does not mean laws to promote integration are a bad thing. Sweden for example, is promoting equality in the work force be passing laws that will limit discrimination based on religion by allowing women to wear headscarves and such to work.

  1. Political

There appears to be very few Muslims active in Scandinavian politics. Even the few that are may not be considered a devout Muslim. The authors of this section discuss the two different prototypes. One of which is a middle aged man who advocates for the Muslim organizations that they are a part of. This prototype puts Swedish politics as second to the politics of their social organizations. The second prototype is the female convert. They would follow more of a secular approach, much more active in Scandinavian politics and advocating for women’s rights.

  1. Religious Rituals

In many countries, including Sweden, the rituals outlined in the Quran are not permitted by law. However, there are other laws, such as the Freedom of Religion Act that are actively being protested by Muslims to be able to follow their teachings.

  1. Ideological

In Sweden, this level of integration has some hope. Muslims in Sweden reject the controversies and problems found in many Middle Eastern Islamic Countries. They want to promote a more true Islam in Europe which they call Euro-Islam. This stance has required a new look at the Islamic faith that may be good for European Muslims who wish to integrate more.

In Spain there is a long history of Islam. The Ottoman Empire had its roots in southern Spain resulting in an ancient influence. Despite that influence, Spain’s Muslim population is relatively low. Two reasons for that, as discussed through the chapters, immigration has just been opened in the past twenty years also they have no lasting colonies in Muslim countries.

Due to the long history of Islam in the country, there are two main types of Muslims living in Spain. There are the Spanish converts and naturalized Muslims and then there are the immigrated Muslims. Latter group makes up the larger amount of Muslims in the country, but find a much more difficult time integrating. The Spanish converts are built into the culture of Spain. The laws in Spain passed to improve integration of the Muslim communities benefits the nonimmigrants to a much higher degree than the immigrants.

mosque-of-cordoba-spain
Mosque in Cordoba, Spain built in 987 AD

The conclusion chapter summarizes most of what has been seen throughout the different countries. It walks through the patterns of diversity and unity, the patterns of muslim-europeans interaction, persisting disparities and limits to multiculturalism and the relations with the Muslim world. What stuck out to me was the section on “Islam no longer a transition phenomenon.” The section highlights the shift in the view towards Muslims. Originally they were viewed as temporary. As time went on the immigrants began building mosques and other infrastructure marking their intent to stay in their new countries. The host countries now have to “deal” with the new cultural group. Are we moving towards a new shift in thinking as the Muslim populations grow larger and more prominent or are we still stuck in that second mindset of their presence being a new problem? How long before we will be able to accept the population as our own?

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