Even Up There: Muslims Want Mosque in Reykjavík
Now the MAI claims that in total around 700 to 1,000 Muslims are living in Iceland. It also claims that growing numbers of Icelanders are converting to Islam, with some 100 converts in recent years. Of course these numbers must be regarded with some scepticism since they come from an association which may quite easily see political benefits in exaggerating them. Muslims in Iceland, for instance, have for some years been calling for the building of a mosque – preferably in the capital city of Reykjavík. Nevertheless, the figures are probably not so far from the truth.
Over 20,000 foreigners are now estimated to be living in Iceland legally, according to official statistics, about 6,6 percent of the general population. In other words, Iceland has reached a level of immigration comparable to Norway, Denmark and Sweden, in a much shorter time. A news report from the Icelandic National Broadcasting Corporation (RÚV) in September 2002 already stated that the number of immigrants in Iceland was growing faster than in the other Nordic countries and twice as fast as in Denmark.
The numbers mentioned in this article may not sound significant to the ears of most other Europeans. But one must always bear in mind that the total Icelandic population is only 300,000 people. 20,000 immigrants in Iceland are therefore equivalent to 4 million in the United Kingdom; 600 illegal immigrants is comparable to 120,000 in the UK; 900 Muslims in Iceland corresponds to 180,000 in the UK. And considering in how short a time this has occurred the development is huge and happening at a very fast rate.