New Book: Muslims in Poland and Eastern Europe. Widening the European Discourse on Islam

While Islam has been firmly placed on the global agenda since 9/11, and
continues to occupy a prominent place in media discourse, attention has
recently begun to shift towards European Muslims, or “as some would
prefer to say” Muslims in Europe. Apart from the usual concerns, mostly
articulated in the media, on the radicalization of Muslim youth, their
failure to integrate into mainstream society and so forth, a vast body
of academic literature on Islam and Muslims in Europe has sprung up
since the late 1990s. This discourse and body of literature on Muslims
in Europe, however, are confined to the west of the continent, viz. the
old EU. This gives the impression that Europe stops at the banks of the
Oder. Central and Eastern Europe – both new EU members and other
countries – has been placed outside the realm of discourse, i.e. outside
Europe. This book aims to fill this gap by describing Muslim communities
and their experiences in Central and Eastern Europe, both in countries
with marginal Muslim populations, often not exceeding 1% (e.g. Hungary
and Lithuania), and in countries with significant Muslim minorities,
sometimes proportionally even larger than in France (e.g. Bulgaria).
Some of these countries have a long history of Muslim presence, dating
back to the 14th century in the case of the Tatars (e.g. Poland and
Ukraine) and the 16th century in the case of the first Muslim arrivals
in the Balkans (e.g. Romania, Slovenia) during the Ottoman era. In other
countries (e.g. Slovakia), Muslims have arrived only recently. What all
these countries have in common is a Communist past inside the former
Eastern bloc.

The new German parliament is far from being representative

Apart from male dominance and the average age being 49, the new Bundestag has only few migrant delegates. Of the 622 members of parliament only 15 have a migratory background (11 in the 2005 elections). None of them are from Eastern Europe, but most of them have a Turkish or Iranian family background.

Spain’s dire straits for immigrants

African migrants trying to reach Europe find that entrance via Spain is the preferable route. The Spanish government says that illegal crossings by boat have decreased by 60% this year, compared to the previous year – about 31,000 illegal immigrants arrived by boat to the Canaries, which lies just 67 miles off the coast of northwest Africa. The plight taken by African migrants has sparked an increasing amount of media attention and concern. Immigrants from Latin America, Eastern Europe, and African now comprise about 9% of Spain’s population – with the majority from Morocco and Romania.