Recently I visited Europe I could go to the UK, France and the Netherlands I would like to share my observations regarding Muslims and Islam in these countries
UK: In the UK, Islam is its second-largest religion In 2011 Muslim population was 4.4 percent of the total population in 2021, it increased to 6.5 percent of total population London has the greatest number of Muslims in the country.
According to some experts, some laws are enacted to deprive Muslims of their citizenship.
The government denies it some activists allege that they are treated as second-class citizens
The census also found that 39% of Muslims live in the most deprived areas of England It is also said that young Muslims face enormous social mobility barriers
France: Five million Muslims or 4 percent French population is Muslim A recent estimate says that 10 percent of French are Muslims Here state targets the Muslim community They are treated as second-class citizens Full hijab is banned We see many Muslim women in covered clothes with scarves on their heads on the streets of Paris and in railway stations
Over time many mosques were closed down by the state Heavy fines were imposed on the community As much as 50 million Euros were collected as fines from Muslims Over the last two decades state control over French Muslims have been increasing Their civil liberties are curtailed Discrimination is practiced In fact, some experts say violence against Muslims in France has historical roots
Recently France did not allow a human rights activist from the UK to visit Paris to enquire into riots that exploded after Nahel, a French teenager of Algerian descent was killed by its French police Some experts argue that as Muslims are a weak community in France, they are oppressed It should try to make itself into a strong community
Netherlands: In 2023, Muslims in Netherlands numbered 1,040,574 They constitute 6 0percent of its total population In 2018, they constituted 5 percent Many Muslims live in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Hague and Utrecht
Historically Netherlands has been liberal A large number of religious groups existed in the Netherlands due to religious freedom practiced in this state Since 1990, many Muslims have come to the Netherlands as refugees and asylum seekers mainly from Bosnia, Somalia, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq
In 1933,the first Muslim Mosque and burial site appeared in the Netherlands In 1955 Mubarak Mosque was built In 2003 Mevlana mosque was built in Rotterdam Overall there are 400 mosques in the Netherlands Popular ones are located in Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Hague
In 2019, a ban on face covering was implemented making the full veil illegal on public transport schools, hospitals, and government buildings It does not apply in public streets I have seen many women wearing scarf and full dress in parks and on roads
In school no uniform So Muslim girls are free to wear hijab Health and education systems are good there Everybody has access to education and health
I could visit two mosques The first was Rehmani mosque As it was a weekday, there was hardly anybody inside I prayed in the women’s section It was spacious, elegant, and beautiful The second one was where Darul Huda was placed I could meet the Imam Abdullah El Amrani and his wife Some courses in Arabic are taught here The mosque runs on donations and fees charged for teaching Arabic This mosque was also spacious, elegant and beautiful Imam is of Moroccan descent, and he said almost 80 percent of Muslims in Netherlands are of Moroccan origin Muslims are doing well
What about islamophobia in the Netherlands? Yes To some extent, it prevails There are some politicians who are Islamophobic Many are very tolerant For sure, Muslims in the Netherlands are better off compared to those in France
Sometime back, a Dutch pervert burnt the Quran in a public place to humiliate Muslims They protested This Imam too participated in the protest and gave interview to Al Jazeera One minister said that they were thinking banning of such practices because it is hurting relations with Muslim countries The Imam said after consultation, Muslims decided to fight Muslim hate peacefully with wisdom
Everywhere Islamic phobia is present Many times, it is created for political gain as in India.
Muslims need to empower themselves everywhere There is a ray of hope For example, in the Netherlands, a Muslim hater politician from Freedom political party converted to Islam some time back He has opened a center to educate non-Muslims about Islam.