« Muslims in Europe – challenges of identity and quantity »

01 Juin

Conference of the Yearbook of Muslims in Europe

« Muslims in Europe – challenges of identity and quantity »

Vienna, 4-6 June 2012

Currently, a number of countries are conducting official censuses. Many of them include a question on religion. Where they don´t, a question on ethnicity or « nationality » is often used by researchers to estimate figures on religious belonging. Such censuses and other attempts to give Muslim population figures have their technical problems. But they also raise more profound issues of quantification and identification, not least of which is the question of political power: the role of the state (or the researcher or the media) in determining the categorisations which are important. Within this hides the more comples question of how people identify themselves, and why they do it the way they do.


 The purpose of this conference is two-fold:

1. To consider these and closely associated issues in the perspectives of the whole of Europe.

2. To give the contributors and editors of the Yearbook of Muslims in Europe the possibility of meeting and discussing the project and possibilities which it may give rise to.



Most sessions will be for the Yearbook of Muslims in Europe team, conference organizers, and invited participants, primarily academic staff and students from Vienna, unless otherwise stated.


Monday 4 June

Theme: Counting Muslims: Censuses, surveys and opinion polls.



12.30 Lunch


14.00 Plenary session: welcome – Jørgen S. Nielsen, CEIT, Copenhagen University; Gerhard Marchl, Director, Renner Institut; Ednan Aslan, University of Vienna.


1st main lecture: Göran Larsson (Gothenburg University): “Interpreting official data on Muslims in Europe”


15.45 Break


16.15 Parallel groups workshop: Three groups to discuss problems of quantifying data on Muslims, facilitated by Riem Spielhaus, Birgitte Schepelern Johansen, and Jørgen Nielsen based on the Copenhagen research on opinion polling.


18.30 Dinner/reception


Tuesday 5 June

Theme: Muslims, religion and the state


9.15   Plenary session, 2nd main lecture: Franck Frégosi (University of Strasbourg): “Muslim collective mobilizations in contemporary Europe: new issues and new types of involvement” (read by Jørgen S. Nielsen)


10.45 Break


11.15 Parallel group workshops: Three groups discussing the local implications of the themes of the lecture, facilitated by Tuomas Martikainen, Irina Vainovski-Mihai, and Agata Nalborczyk.


12.30 Lunch


followed by free discussion and networking time at participants’ initiatives.


18.00 Public session, hosted by the Renner Institut and University of Vienna: European Muslims between Religion and State

See separate programme


19.00 Reception hosted by Brill Academic Publishers

followed by dinner in nearby restaurant.


Wednesday 6 June


9.00   Parallel group workshops: Three groups to discuss suggestions for how to improve the Yearbook, each group to provide a bullet-point summary, facilitated by Yearbook editors.


10.45 Break


11.15 Plenary and closing session: Future of the Yearbook and the Brill ‘Islam in Europe’ package w. the editors and Ms Nicolette van der Hoek (Brill).


12.30 Lunch and departures


Invitation to the Panel Discussion

European Muslims between Religion and State



Date               Tuesday, 5 June 2012, 6.00 p.m.

Afterwards a reception with drinks and light snacks will be hosted by Brill Academic Publishers

Venue             Campus of the University of Vienna “Altes AKH”, Room C1

Spitalgasse 2, 1090 Vienna



Ednan Aslan, Department of Education, University of Vienna

Gerhard Marchl, Karl Renner Institute, Vienna



Jørgen S. Nielsen

Centre for European Islamic Thought, University of Copenhagen


Panel Discussion

Samim Akgönul, University of Strasbourg, France

Alev Cakir, University of Vienna

Oliver Henhapel, Department for Religious Affairs (Kultusamt), Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture, Austria

Jørgen S. Nielsen, Centre for European Islamic Thought, University of Copenhagen

Ahmet Alibašić, University of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina



Thomas Schmidinger, Department of Political Science, University of Vienna




A century ago, in 1912, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire issued the so-called Islamgesetz (Islam Act), following the occupation and annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Islam Act gave Sunni Islam official legal status as a congregation. In so doing, Austria-Hungary became the first Catholic-dominated European state to give Islam an official status. With the immigration of Muslims to Western Europe the question of the status of Muslims became also a topic in France, Germany, Britain, and other European states. While Austria is presenting its legacy as an example for other European States, most of these states did not follow Austria. And also within Austria the officially recognized Islamic Religious Community is challenged by many Muslims and heterodox groups like the Alevis. This public discussion will address the relations of European Muslims and European states, with the Western and Eastern European experiences a century after Austria’s Islam Act.




Karl Renner Institute, Ms. Gabriele Walla

Fax: 01-804 08 74


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