Poland: Muslims thrive in tiny community

Warsaw's only mosque, with its arched brick entrance, lies in a quiet suburb and hardly stands out from the surrounding homes.

Inside, the mosque serves as the spiritual centre for Warsaw is tiny Muslim community: many of whom had slowly made their homes in an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic nation - very few can trace their Polish roots back for centuries.

Friday Prayer services in Warsaw can draw up to 300 people. There are Arabic lessons on Saturdays, a halal food store next door and an Islamic Cultural Centre that offers booklets on Islam translated to the Polish language.

Switching between Polish and his native Syrian dialect, Imam Nezar Charif answers the telephone calls before leading the evening prayer during Ramadan. He tells a Polish woman the proper time to break the day-long fast, shares a joke in Arabic with a visitor and supervises renovations going on in the hall.

Before the three story family home was converted into a mosque in 1991, Warsaw's Muslims gathered for prayers inside the Egyptian embassy or rented out a dance hall before its nightly discotheque.

Now the mosque is so crowded there is talk of building another downtown to accommodate Muslims who work in the city.

Most estimate that Poland holds approximately 30,000 Muslims - less than 0.1 percent of the population – and is expected to grow. The Muslim community in Warsaw range from 5,000 to 7,000 and comprise businessmen, political refugees and students who remained behind during the 1980s.

Charif came from Damascus to study at university in 1982 when Poland was under communist rule and viewed as a relatively cheap country by Syrian, Iraqi and Libyan immigrants. Most of them returned to their homelands after graduation, but Charif stayed after he married a Polish woman.

Those who arrived during the 1970s and 1980s now make up a small percentage of Warsaw's Muslims, with many today coming from Turkey, Syria, Pakistan and Chechnya. Most of Warsaw's Muslims comprise a handful of Poles who converted after marrying Muslims and a few who became Muslims on their own accord.

Outside Warsaw, Poland boasts two historic mosques from the 17th and 18th century built in the villages of Bohoniki and Kruszyniany, which were settlements of Poland's first Muslims in the 14th century.

The Tartars made their home in the Poland-Lithuania Commonwealth and practiced Islam freely in exchange for military service.

Their communities once numbered some 17,000 people however, as a result of many Tatar descendants having moved to cities for work, today only a dozen families remain.

Some 2,000 Muslim Tatars live in Poland, said Bronislaw Talkowski, who heads a Muslim community organization in Kruszyniany. Although the village is largely Catholic and conservative, Talkowski says there is more tolerance there than in many cosmopolitan cities.

"Tatars settled in Kruszyniany at the end of the 17th century -- locals know the Tatars from that time," Talkowski said. "And there's no animosity between Catholics and Muslims like you read about in certain places. That doesn't happen here."

But Muslims remain a tiny minority in a country that is 96 percent Catholic and who have rarely lived alongside immigrants.


Source: Expatica (English)


John Sobieski said...

As long as Muslims are less than 1% of the population, they won't go jihad on them. It doesn't look like an outright ban of Islam will ever happen. Muslim countries for Muslims and the West for the west not in the cards.

Joachim Martillo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Esther said...

Joachim Martillo,

I'll repeat. Do not post Zionist Conspiracy theories on my blog. They will all be deleted. If you persist, I'll start removing all your comments.

Joachim Martillo said...

Dear Esther, I have taken The David Project course in defending Israel, and in practically the first 10 minutes, the lecturer instructed us to frame the conflict over Palestine in terms a civilizational conflict between the West and Islam.

The David Project courses form the basis of instruction in numerous Jewish schools in the USA.

I am not discussing some sort of conspiratorial theory. I am describing an open fact of American Jewish Zionist politics, which is a field of my study.

I can go to any number of JCC's throughout the country and attend lectures in the Clash of Civilizations. It is the main topic on the JCRC/ Des Moines Jewish Federation - Community News blog, and I have discussed with officials of the organized German Jewish community how the "Americans" are trying to bring their ideology into German Jewish education via connections with Russian Jewish immigrants in Germany.

Rejecting the facts is some sort of weird denial.

Are you denying the existend of Zionist Jewish politics, which is trying to influence and control discourse in North American and Europe? I am hardly the only person studying this phenomenon. Rabkin and Boyarin are prominent in the subject.

Esther said...

Joachim Martillo,

Call it whatever you want. I ask that you do not discuss Zionist conspiracy theories on my blog.

I would discuss it more with you about what I think about this topic, but that would undermine my point that I do not want you to discuss Zionist conspiracy theories on my site.

Esther said...

Joachim Martillo,

Having reconsidered: I don't see a reason why Jews shouldn't discuss Muslim extremism, especially as it affects them directly.

I blog about Islam in Europe because it interests me, and it interests me partially also because I think the situation of the Muslims in Europe affects the situation of the Jews in Europe.

I fail to see the conspiracy here. I do not agree with your claim that Jews in particular blame Muslims for everything bad in the world in order to achieve some hidden goal. I fail to see why you jump to protect Europe's most controversial Muslims - preferring to blame the Jews for what those same imams say. And I'm still waiting on a response from you about Jneid Fawaz.

I therefore do not want you to discuss these conspiracy theories on this blog. If you feel you must blame Jews for everything, don't come to my blog to do it.

Joachim Martillo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Esther said...

Joachim Martillo,

You can discuss whatever you want on your blog.

Joachim Martillo said...

Obviously Esther you are simply another Jewish racist, who wants to discuss how Muslim extremists threaten Jews, but refuses to consider the possibility that Jewish extremists threaten Muslims and have been doing so as part of a concerted political program since the late 19th century.

Esther said...

Joachim Martillo,

On this blog I mostly bring news from European news sites.

I'm not going to repeat what I wrote to you already several times - do not bring up Zionist conspiracy theories on my blog.

Joachim Martillo said...

Dear Esther, I follow the French, German, Polish and Russian Press fairly carefully, and with regard to anti-Muslim politics, there is in France and Germany a strong continuity with American anti-Islamism as I discuss in From Anti-Semitism to Islamophobia. (If you understand German, Rether's discussion is quite amusing.)

European journalistic anti-Islamism is quite dependent on American anti-Islamism. I realized this link when I stumbled on some material that was an unattributed German translation of some items I wrote for a pro-Israel group in the early 1980s about Dhimma when I was far more sympathetic to Zionism and the State of Israel.

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