As Americans debate the appropriateness of building a Muslim mosque near Ground Zero in New York City, similar discussions have been taking place in towns and cities across Europe, where the spread of Islam is far more advanced than it is in the United States. Although Muslims and their supporters in Europe usually frame the issue of mosque construction within the context of granting religious freedom to minorities, most, if not all, of the more controversial European mosque projects are motivated by politics at least as much as by religion.
There currently are an estimated 6,000 mosques in Europe. Many of them are housed in makeshift structures such as small shops, basements, offices, garages and rented rooms. But as the Muslim population in Europe increases by more than one million people per year, Muslims across the continent are becoming increasingly more assertive in their demands to build high-profile mosques that clearly are meant to challenge the European status quo.
Critics say the construction of mosques is part of a strategy for the Islamization of Europe. They point to comments by Muslim leaders like Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has bragged: "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers." Erdogan has also told Turkish immigrants in Germany that "assimilation is a crime against humanity."
Read about the building of Europe's mega-mosques HERE!