Islam, barely visible in Europe since the medieval fall of Moslem Spain, is making a resurgence across the continent.
Minarets are rising against the skyline of many European cities. A new completed last year in London's Regent Park, and the Vatican is sson to have one as a neighbor.
Although not directly related to the Islamic revival presently sweeping Moslem states, the rise of Islamic in European results partly from the same cause: refusal of Moslems to accept Western standards and life styles imposed upon them.
"Moslems want to live in Europe as Moslems, not as culturally uprooted peoples," says Khurshid Ahmad, formerly the director general of the Islamic Foundation, an educational trust at Leicester, England. "Europeans should not expect them to imitate the West in all their dealings."
According to an Islamic Foundation survey, there are 25 million Moslems living in Europe: 11.5 million in Soviet Europe, 7.5 million in Eastern Europe, and nearly 6 million in Western Europe.
This, says the London-based Islamic Council of Europe, makes Islam Europe's second-largest religion.
Is is also, says Ahmad, the "most misunderstood."
Moors invaded Europe in 711 and held Moslem suzerainty over most ot the Iberian Peninsula for eight centuries. The Ottomans ruled the Balkans from the 14th to the 19th century andd, at the height of their power, marched as far west as the gates of Vienna.
"As a result," says Salam Azzam, until recently secretary general of the Islamic Council, "Europe has generally known Islam as an enemy and a threat."
Compounding the issue is the character of Islam itself. "Islam is not simply a religion in the limited sense of the word." says Ahmad, "it is a complete way of life. It fashions the social attitude and behavior patterns of its adherents: Their food, dress marriage and family life, social relations, economic dealings and political sympathies."
As such, Islam frequently clashes with the customs and laws of the secular states of Europe. In a recent British court case, for example a Moslem teacher was denied time fof for prayers during school hours.
Similarly, the Moslem requirement for single-sex schools for their children goes against the trend in European state education.
Additionally, economic recession has caused European attitudes toward Moslem immigrants to harden. Although they were welcomed during the boom years of the 1960s, when they filled the lower-paid, more menial jons that Europeans did not want, they are now being accused of occupying jobs that local unemployed Europeans could fill.
Most West European countries have now closed their doors to non-European immigrants. France is offering $2,000 to each foreign worker who agrees to return home and in Britian the immigrant problem is becoming an increasingly volatile issue.
"Inevitably, the mass movement of Moslem manpower has created problems," says Armco World Magazine in its January/February issue entitled "Moslems in Europe."
"With customs, culture and religion that differ sharply from those of host countries, the Moslem immigrants - like all immigrants - have faced misunderstandings, hostility and, within their won communities, cultural and religious strains." says the magazine, distributed by the Arabian-American Oil Co.
"Yet," the magazine adds, "Islam is now firmly implanted in Western Europe. United by their faith, Moslem immigrants from nations as far apart as Malaysia and Morocco are working together to build mosques, establish Moslem cultural centers, and press common demands for political, economic, social and religious equality with their European hosts."
Among the demands are recognition of Islamic law, Islamic holidays for Moslem workers, time off work for prayers, allocation of public funds and land to build mosques, Moslem cemeteries and abattoirs where animals can be slaughtered according to Islamic rights.
Some countries already have taken steps to accommodate their increasingly vocal Moslem minorities. Belgium and Austria, for example, now recognize Islam as an official religion. But the bulk of Western Europe's Moslems do not live in Belgium or Austria. According to the Islamic Foundation survey, 1.9 million live in France, 1.5 million in West Germany, 1 million in Britain, 500,000 in Italy, 350,000 in the Benelux countries, 40,000 in Scandinavia, 25,000 in Spain and 5,000 in each Austria, Portgual and Switzerland.
They include Turks, North Africans, Indonesians, Malaysians and Moslems from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. "Almost all major Moslem traditions have found new homes in different parts of Europe," says ahmad, "and a cross-fertilization of cultures is taking place."
The language barrier-one of the original blocks to contact and cooperation between Moslems of different nationalities living in Europe - is crumbling, as more and more immgrants master the common tongue of their host country.
The islamic Council now links more than 25 Moslem organizations in Britain, West Germany, France, Scandinavia, Italy, Switzerland and the Bnelux states.
"Moslems are quickly growing self-confidence and developing their own organizations," says the Rt. Rev. David Brown, Bishop of Guildford and the Church of England's leading authority on Islam...
More important, they now have the full support of oil-rich Moslem states.
Saudi Arbia has set up a Federation of International Islamic Schools to provide education for Moslem children whose parents work abroad. It is contributing over half of the $20 million needed to build a mosque in Rome, and together with Libya and Kuwait was a major contributor to the $7 million cost of London's new mosque.
Moslems in Europe have also recently won backing from an unexpected quarter-the Roman Catholic Church. In France, when the government announced plans to repatriate Moslem workers, French bishops issued a strongly worded statement defending their right to remain. And Bishop Francois Abou Mokh, secretary of the Vatican's Board of Islam, told an interviewer recently: "We must see to it that Moslems are treated as men and not sub-men, andd can benefit from the rights and respect due to every human being in Europe."
tBecause Western Europeans assumed that the foreign "guest workers" of the 1960s would stay only for a few years and then take their savings home, little was done to try to integrate them or provide for their special religious, educational and social needs. As a result, thos that stayed now live in crowded ghettos, almost 20 percent of their children get no proper education, and-except those in Sweden and Britain-they have few political rights.
Frustration over lack of equal opportunities or rejection of Western norms are, according to Moslem spokesmen, not the only reasons, how ever, for the Islamic revival in Europe.
"Many of them who came here for material gain now realize that this is not enough," says Abdulwahid van Bommel, a Dutch convert and chairman of the Federation of Moslem Organizations in the Netherlands. "They now seek to fill the religious and cultural gap left in their lives when they left their home countries."
They are also encouraged by their growing numbers-swelled recently by wealthy Arabs and students from the Middle East.
"Until the 1960s the Moslem community was too small to make an impact," says a Moslem clergyman in Britain, "But now we are large enough to be heard."