September 15, 2010

New Pew Forum Report Provides In-Depth Profiles of Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe

For Immediate Release
Sept. 15, 2010, 12 p.m. EDT

Washington, D.C. — A new report by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, “Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe,” profiles several of the oldest, largest and most influential Muslim groups operating in Western Europe today.

CONTACT

Mary Schultz
Communications Manager
202.419.4556
mschultz@pewforum.org

The report focuses on transnational networks and movements whose origins lie in the Muslim world but that now have an established presence in Western Europe, and examines how such movements seek to influence the views and daily lives of Muslims living there. The selected groups represent the diverse histories, missions and organizational structures found among Muslim organizations in Western Europe. These include: the Gülen Movement; the Muslim Brotherhood and Jamaʹat-i Islami; the Muslim World League and World Assembly of Muslim Youth; Jihadi Networks and Hizb ut-Tahrir; Sufi Orders; and Tablighi Jamaʹat. The report explores the groups’ origins, purposes and activities, offering a detailed look at their differing religious and political agendas, as well as their views on religious law, religious education and the assimilation of Muslims into European society.

“Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe” also examines how European governments are interacting with these groups, the relationships between the groups themselves, and future challenges these networks and movements face, particularly in regard to generational shifts in the leadership and membership ranks.  

Some of the report’s findings include:

  • Although many Muslims in Western Europe participate in the activities of these movements and networks, the groups’ formal membership rolls appear to be relatively small. Despite the low levels of formal membership, these groups often exert significant influence by setting agendas and shaping debates within Muslim communities in Western Europe.
  • The growing connections between Islamic groups and European governments, as well as the integration of some of these groups into the continent’s political mainstream, have not led to a decrease in activism on the part of these groups. If anything, Muslim groups and movements have become more visible on the European political stage.
  • Partly in reaction to the growth and visibility of Muslim movements in Western Europe, Christian and Jewish organizations in the region also have attracted more public attention in recent years and taken on renewed relevance in the eyes of some Europeans. In that sense, Muslim groups, collectively, may be helping to create more space for religion in general in the European public square.
  • Most, if not all, of the Muslim movements and networks with a significant presence in Western Europe can also be found in North America.

The full report is available on the Pew Forum’s website along with links to other related surveys and analyses.

The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life conducts surveys, demographic analyses and other social science research on important aspects of religion and public life in the U.S. and around the world. As part of the Washington-based Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonadvocacy organization, the Pew Forum does not take positions on any of the issues it covers or on policy debates.