Monday, 6 September 2010
Germany has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. Approximately 3.0 to 3.5 million Muslims live in Germany, and 80% of them do not have German citizenship; 608,000 are German citizens.1 100,000 of them are German converts to Islam.2 Recent statistics show a continuing increase in their numbers.
70% of the Muslim population is of Turkish origin.4 Turkish immigration to Germany began in the 1960s in response to a German labor shortage. While these laborers were expected to leave Germany after their work was completed, half of them ended up staying in the country. At first the immigration was predominantly men, but they were eventually followed by their wives and families.5 Muslims settled around the industrial areas of Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg, Munich, Nurnberg, Darmstadt and Goppingen, and Hamburg. Only a few Muslims live on the territory of the former German Democratic Republic.
Compared to other countries of Western Europe, Germany also has the highest number of Kurds amongst its immigrant population. The German Arab population is approximately 290,000 (in 2002).9
These Turkish labor migrants, along with laborers from North Africa and Yugoslavia, who arrived in the 1960s and 1970s represent the first wave of Muslims to arrive in Germany.Since the early 1980s, the number of Muslim asylum seekers began to increase, especially those from Turkey (Kurds, Yezidis and Assyrians)11 and the former Yugoslavia. A number of mostly secular Muslims, especially students, also began to migrate from Iran in the 1960s. Today Iranians are one of the most integrated communities in Germany, evidenced by the fact that the relative number of Iranian academics and business people is far above average. Lastly, Bosnian and Kosovar Muslims who were fleeing wars in the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, generated large flows across Europe and came to Germany in numbers more than 300,000.
The Muslim population in Germany, however, is rather fluid since many older Muslims from Turkey return to their land of origin for retirement. Today Muslims of four generations live in Germany. One third of Muslims of Turkish origins were born in Germany but do not have German citizenship. 16.5% of the Bosnian immigrants, 8.7% of the Iranians, 21.0% of the Moroccans, and 12.6% of the Afghans were born in Germany without having German citizenship.
Approximately 65% are Sunni, but there are also populations of Alevites (12%), Yezidi (7%), Turkish Shiites (2%) and some Imamites.
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