Does the Islamic “problem” exist in Poland? Polish Muslims in the days of integration and opening of the borders in Europe
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Muslim community in Poland, in terms of their population, is much smaller than in most of the Western European countries. Demographic potential determines the strength of their political and cultural influence – which in relation to the aforementioned states, is scarce. Muslims in Poland, of both Tatar and non-Tatar origin, are still not well recognized in the area of social life. Muslim community in Poland differs from their counterparts in countries of Western Europe, not only by its demographic potential, but also by its local specifics. It consists of the oldest Polish Muslim descendants, namely Tatars, who adopted the cultural norms of Polish surrounding. Moreover, to some degree, they also identify themselves with these norms ethnically. They created the native, moderate model of Islam which can be qualified as “Tatar-European” model. The main similarities to Polish Tatars, especially regarding the acceptance of moderate version of Islam and a certain degree of identification withPolish culture, can be found among Muslim descendants, mainly economic immigrants and representatives of Muslim immigration from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. A whole different tradition, particularly in comparison to Polish Tatars’ community, is represented by the generation of Muslim immigrants from the 1990s. These Muslims are more faithful to the principles of Islam in their everyday life than their Tatar coreligionists. It is caused by the fact that their religious identity was shaped in the Muslim culture, in the countries of their origin. Contrary to earlier immigrants, they do not show assimilative attitudes and distance themselves from Muslim Religious Association which is the organization with the longest tradition among Polish Muslims. Instead, they congregate in institutions they established themselves (e.g. the Muslim League). It should be emphasized, that these people arrived in Poland mainly for educational or economic reasons (to study at the university or start their own business). Majority of them (61%) is planning to return to their homeland after achieving all the basic aims of their stay in Poland. Surely, one should not expect any significant changes among Muslim refugees’ environment in Poland, as majority of them intend to emigrate further. Also Polish citizens converted to Islam often treat their new religion in superficial way, and eventually abandon it and return to their previous confession. According to the results of the research, European integration and opening of the borders did not contribute neither to the inflow of Muslims from Western Europe, nor to the diffusion of ideas which are the foundation for extreme, orthodox Islam. However, during less than last twenty years, the socio-ethnic structure of this religious minority has undergone a significant transformation. It was conditioned mainly by constitutional changes in Poland, despite the dynamics of integration processes in Europe. The research results confirm, that the changes of proportions within the local Muslim minority, shaped over several years, gradually lead to the creation of two models of Islam in Poland: “Tatar-European” – a moderate model, rooted in Poland for centuries, and “Arabic-Middle East” model – considerably more orthodox, created by those who arrived in Poland recently or have recently converted to Islam. The analyzed changes, though significant, do not efface the principal differences between the entire Muslim community in Poland and its Western counterpart. Therefore, one can quote after Smail Balica, the prominent representative of liberal Bosnian Islam, by recalling his description of Islam in the former Yugoslavia, that Islam in Poland remains in agreement with “enlightened Europe and is open to the world, liberal and tolerant in the light of General Declaration of Human Rights. This Islam belongs to Europe in a geographical, historical, ethnical and cultural sense”. It still belongs to Europe.
- Książki/Rozdziały 
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