Muslims in Poland and Eastern Europe. Widening the European Discourse on Islam
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This book aims to fill this gap by describing Muslim communities and their experiences in Central and Eastern Europe, both in countries with marginal Muslim populations, often not exceeding 1% (e.g. Hungary and Lithuania), and in countries with significant Muslim minorities, sometimes proportionally larger than in France (e.g. Bulgaria). Some of these countries have a long history of Muslim presence, dating back to the 14th century in the case of the Tatars (e.g. Poland and Ukraine) and the 16th century in the case of the first Muslim arrivals in the Balkans (e.g. Romania, Slovenia) during the Ottoman era. In other countries (e.g. Slovakia), Muslims have arrived only recently. What all these countries have in common is a Communist past inside the former Eastern bloc. This consisted mainly in being excluded, to a large extent, from the outside world – i.e. the socalled First World (meaning the West) – in economic, political and cultural terms. Thus, Central and Eastern Europe attracted only few immigrants from outside its own regional borders, which still may be observed in the ethnic and national structure of the countries. Another important factor is that none of the Central and Eastern European countries ever had any colonies. In fact, some countries were partitioned by local superpowers, while others emerged only after the collapse of the Soviet bloc. On the other hand, most of these countries have an autochthonous Muslim population which became a vital part of local cultures and societies in their Central and Eastern European homelands.