This new EUMAP project Muslims in the EU: Cities Reports will focus on the situation of Muslims in eleven selected major cities across the EU with significant Muslim populations. It will look in particular at the extent to which local policy addresses their needs and seeks to include them in the policy-making process. In each selected city, monitoring will focus on the following general areas:
- consultation and participation
- social protection: covering access to social services in general, with a particular focus on housing and healthcare
- safety and security
More than 20 million Muslims currently reside within the European Union (EU). Citizens and migrants, native born and newly-arrived, they are a growing and varied population that presents Europe with one of its greatest challenges: how to ensure equal rights for all in a climate of rapidly expanding diversity.
Most communities are the result of economic migration in the 1960s and 1970s. More recently, Muslims have arrived as refugees seeking asylum. The economic impetus for the initial phase of migration is reflected in Muslim settlement patterns. Thus, the majority initially settled in the capital cities and in large industrial areas. The concentration of Muslims in these areas ensures that while the overall Muslim population in each state remains low, they are a significant and visible presence in particular cities and neighbourhoods.
The need to develop policies that meet the needs of Muslims in Europe has moved on to the political agenda for a number of reasons:
- Demographic trends indicate that a significant proportion of the growth in the Europe’s population over the next decade will be within Muslim communities.
- Government policies must develop and adjust to ensure that they meet the needs of Muslims.
- There has been growing official acknowledgement of prejudice and discrimination against Muslim communities.Recent studies indicate severe levels of disadvantage experienced by sections of the Muslim communities in the EU; these are among the most impoverished and disadvantaged commnities, suffering from poor levels of educational achievement, employment, income, housing and health.
Muslim community groups and politicians are campaigning for governments to address issues of concern to them.
There has been unprecedented scrutiny and focus on Muslim communities following the attacks Madrid and London, the murder of Theo van Gogh, the riots in France in November 2005.
A preliminary phase of the project was initiated in May 2006 and is now complete. This focused on the selection of the countries and cities that would be a priority to include in the monitoring, as well as refining the project methodology.