Muslims in Western Europe, 2d edition
by Jørgen Nielsen
Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press (available from Columbia University Press), 1995. 190 pp. $25 (paper).
Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
Nielsen, an academic in Birmingham, England, who specializes on Muslim life in Europe, provides a very useful survey of the ten or more million Muslims in twelve countries, ranging from Spain and Italy in the south to Norway and Sweden in the north. The contents are dry -- a presentation of historical background, then of demographic, legal, educational, and political issues -- but nonetheless chock full of interest.
We learn that in the late nineteenth century, the Austro-Hungarian legal system applied Islamic family law within its courts (for the benefit of Bosnian Muslims); and that Queen Victoria's personal physician was an Indian Muslim. The contemporary Muslim influx to Europe began in April 1957, when twelve Turkish craftsmen landed in Kiel, Germany. France has by far the largest Muslim population in absolute and probably in relative terms, the most active Sufi movements, and by far the largest body of Christian converts -- some 50,000, ten times the number in Germany or Great Britain. About 90 percent of British Muslims vote Labour. The Iraqi government sponsored a school for Muslim children in Denmark during the 1980s. The Belgian authorities recognize polygamous marriages, though they don't permit such marriages to be initiated in Belgium. Muslim women have quickly adapted to European laws, for it is they who take the first step toward separation in five-sixths of divorce cases. As these few snippets suggest, intimate contact between two very different civilizations makes for stimulating and unexpected developments.
Related Topics: Muslims in Europe | Daniel Pipes | March 1996 MEQ
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