Islam in Europe  

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"[Europe's new far right] has made a very public break with the symbols of the old right’s past, distancing themselves from skinheads, neo-Nazis and homophobes. They have also deftly co-opted the causes, policies and rhetoric of their opponents. They have sought to outflank the left when it comes to defending a strong welfare state and protecting social benefits that they claim are threatened by an influx of freeloading migrants.

They have effectively claimed the progressive causes of the left – from gay rights to women’s equality and protecting Jews from antisemitism – as their own, by depicting Muslim immigrants as the primary threat to all three groups. As fear of Islam has spread, with their encouragement, they have presented themselves as the only true defenders of western identity and western liberties – the last bulwark protecting a besieged Judeo-Christian civilisation from the barbarians at the gates."[1]--Sasha Polakow-Suransky

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Islam is the third largest religious belief in Europe after Christianity and Irreligion. Muslim-majority countries are found in the Balkans. Other countries with sizable minorities include Russia, France and Germany.

Islam entered Eastern Europe in what are now parts of Russia and Bulgaria in the 7th and 13th century, respectively. Following the Muslim conquest of Persia, Islam for the first time penetrated into regions that would later become part of Russia. The Ottoman Empire expanded into Europe taking huge portions of the Byzantine Empire in the 14th and 15th centuries. Over the centuries, the Ottoman Empire also gradually lost almost all of its European territories, until the empire collapsed in 1922. However, parts of the Balkans (such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Montenegro) continue to have large populations of native, European Muslims.

Transcontinental countries, such as Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have large Muslim populations. This is also the case in a number of regions within the Russian Federation such as the Northern Caucasus (Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, Stavropol Krai, Adygea), Crimea, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and the Astrakhan Oblast.

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries substantial numbers of non-native Muslims immigrated to Western Europe. By 2010 an estimated 44 million Muslims were living in Europe (6%), including an estimated 19 million in the EU (3.8%). They are projected to comprise 8% by 2030. They are often the subject of intense discussion and political campaigns. These have been periodically revived by events such as terrorist attacks by extremist Islamists, the cartoons affair in Denmark, debates over Islamic dress, elevated crime rates amongst Islamic minorities and ongoing support for populist radical right parties that view Muslims as a threat to European values and ways of life. Such events have also fueled growing debate on Islamophobia, attitudes toward Muslims and the populist radical right.

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From template 'Islam in Europe'

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