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.

Finland’s only proper mosque is in the small town of Järvenpää Helsingin Sanomat

So far there is only the one purpose-built mosque in Finland, the Järvenpää Mosque, which was erected in the 1940s. The timber-framed building also includes a small minaret, but as in most non-Muslim countries, the call for prayer from the minaret is not permitted.

The Järvenpää Mosque belongs to the Islamic congregation of Finland’s Tatars, established in 1925. “Apart from the one actual mosque, we can only speak of prayer-houses here in Finland. The majority of the country’s just under forty houses of prayer are in the capital area”, says the Finnish Islamic Association spokesperson Isra Lehtinen.

In the Helsinki region there are seven sizeable Muslim mosques. Prayer-houses have been set up, for example, in converted bank branches and in old cinemas. Finland is home to an estimated population of 40,000 Muslims — the same size as the total population of the town of Järvenpää.

Ukraine: Crimean Muslims want to take issue of mosque land to Council of Europe

Crimean Muslims proposed that the Council of Europe’s conference on regional development in Ukraine should discuss the issue of allotting land for the construction of a major mosque in Simferopol. The groups sent a letter to Halvdan Skard, the representative of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. The group has also called to discuss the reinstatement of rights for deported Crimean Tatars.