Islam entered Eastern and Southeastern Europe in what are now parts of Russia and Bulgaria in the 13th century. The Ottoman Empire expanded into Europe taking 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 its collapse in 1922. However, parts of the Balkans (such as Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia and Bosnia) continued to have a large populations of Muslims.
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries substantial numbers of Muslims immigrated to Europe. By 2010 an estimated 44 million Muslims were living in Europe.
Current population and its perception
According to the Pew Forum, the total number of Muslims in Europe in 2010 was about 44 million (6%), excluding Turkey. The total number of Muslims in the European Union in 2010 was about 19 million (3.8%). Approximately 9 million Turks are living in Europe, excluding the Turkish population of Turkey, which makes up the largest Muslim immigrant community in Europe. However the real number of Muslims in Europe is not well-known. The percentage of Muslims in Russia (the biggest group of Muslims in Europe) varies from 5 to 11.7%, depending on sources. It also depends on if only observant Muslims or all people of Muslim descent are counted.
The Muslim population in Europe is extremely diverse with varied histories and origins. Today, the Muslim-majority regions of Europe are Albania, Kosovo, parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, parts of Bulgaria, Montenegro and Macedonia, as well as some Russian regions in Northern Caucasus and the Volga region. The Muslim-dominated Sandžak of Novi Pazar is divided between Serbia and Montenegro. They consist predominantly of indigenous Europeans of the Muslim faith whose religious tradition dates back several hundred years. The transcontinental countries of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan also are Muslim majority.
The Muslim population in Western Europe is composed primarily of peoples who arrived to the European continent in or after (1945), when France declared itself a country of immigration. Muslim emigration to metropolitan France surged during the Algerian War of Independence. In 1961, West German Government invited first Gastarbeiters. Similar contracts were offered by Switzerland. A 2013 poll by Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung says that Islamic fundamentalism is widespread among European Muslims with the majority saying religious rules are more important than civil laws and three quarters rejecting religious pluralism within Islam. The European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia reports that the Muslim population tends to suffer Islamophobia all over Europe, although the perceptions and views of Muslims may vary.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that 70% of the people of Albania are Muslim, 91% in Kosovo, and 30% of them in Macedonia are Muslim. Bosnia has a Muslim plurality. In transcontinental countries such as Turkey 99%, and 93% in Azerbaijan of the population is Muslim respectively. Muslims also form about one sixth of the population of Montenegro. In Russia, Moscow is home to an estimated 1.5 million Muslims.
- Pew Forum, The Future of the Global Muslim Population, January 2011, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pew_Forum
- Cole, Jeffrey (2011), Ethnic Groups of Europe: An Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, p. 367, ISBN 1-59884-302-8
- Source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Europe