Muslims in Visegrad
The authors of this anthology of studies focusing on the Muslim community in the four countries of the Visegrád Group set themselves the task to familiarise the interested layperson with an issue that previously failed to garner sufficient attention in the countries of the EU. All key publications appeared in the national languages of the V4, and only very few were in English, German, French, or other European languages. To the extent that such work existed at all, the overwhelming majority of texts was devoted to Balkan Muslims. The access of someone from Western Europe or the Southern Mediterranean who was interested in these issues but had no command of any of the four Central European languages was limited to a small set of websites, newspapers, and magazines in English which appeared in those countries. The present anthology seeks to make at least partial remedies and trigger increased interested in its topic – a topic which we, the authors, are keen to pursue further in the future.
Our own sources of information were key publications which appeared in all four countries, as well as information which was in various ways collected “in the field“, so to speak, such as the closing papers of seminars which we organized in Prague, Warsaw, Bratislava, and Budapest; interviews held with Muslim representatives in the countries of our research; questionnaires which we distributed among Muslims. The only limiting factor was the short six-month grant period.
The objective of our studies was to arrive at a definition of the Muslim community in the given country based on its ethnic and religious composition, though we also needed to describe their organizational structure and activities, give an overview of the major Muslim organizations, and explore the relations inside the community as well as along the axis community versus state / mainstream society. Utmost attention was given to the mutual ways in which Muslims and mainstream society perceive each other, and to researching the sources of islamophobic tendencies. Within this context, we focused on politicians, political parties, the media, and NGOs who ought to facilitate in a major way the key task of integrating Muslims in mainstream society. The Anna Lindh Foundation, in particular, should play an important role, given its Euro-Mediterranean character and given the fact that the issues have already transcended nation-state borders.