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June 1995, Volume 2, Number 6

Over 10 Million Muslim Immigrants in Europe

There are 10 to 13 million Muslims in France, Germany, the UK, and the Netherlands, mostly immigrants and their children from North Africa, Turkey, and the Indian subcontinent. According to some observers, there is a marked difference between the original "guest workers" and their children--the now 50 and older guest workers are trying to stay connected to Islam and their homelands via satellite TV, while their children adopt the language and values of their host countries.

Some Muslims living in Europe support militant movements to change governments in their home countries, and in recent years, many have been arrested for stockpiling weapons. Many older Muslims who arrived as guest workers reported that they did not think about their religion, and religious differences, until settled and they and their children suffered discrimination.

Second-generation immigrants suffer high jobless rates--often 50 percent or more--and some turn to militant Islam because of their failures to obtain promising jobs. In other words, unemployment, not Islam, is believed to be at the root of the appeal of militant Islam.

Fears of militant Muslims reportedly pervade the thinking of government officials--NATO in 1995 announced that militant Islam is as much a threat to Western Europe today as Communism was before 1989. About 200 militant Muslims were arrested and expelled from Western Europe in 1994.

Most of Europe's Muslims are in four countries: France--five million Muslims in a total population of 57 million, Germany, two million of 81 million, UK,1 million of 58 million, and the Netherlands, 750,000 of 15 million. In most countries, there are relatively few mosques for these large Muslim populations.

France is trying to support the development of what it calls "French Islam," a secular type of Muslim religion.

Alix Christie, "France's Angry Young Arabs Turn to Allah," San Francisco Chronicle, May 30, 1995. Craig R. Whitney, "Europeans Struggle to Balance Old Ways With New Muslim Immigrants," New York Times, May 5, 1995. Youssef Ibrahim, "Europe's Muslim Population: Frustrated, Poor and Divided," New York Times, May 6, 1995, A1. Adam Sage, "The Two Frances Yearn for a President of all the People," The Observer, May 7, 1995.