Muslim Rights and Plights. The Religious Liberty Situation of a Minority in Sweden

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This dissertation deals with the religious liberty situation of the Muslim minority in Sweden. The Muslim minority has grown considerably in recent decades as a consequence of labour and refugee immigration of a large scale, which has caused a change in Swedish society from an etnically, culturally and religously homogeneous situation to one of a significant heterogeneity. Sweden's way from unity to multiculturalism has been bordered with difficult political considerations. The present trend towards a policy of integration is seen as a positive feature in the debate, although it is argued that to be successful, integration must be a matter of mutual adjustment, i.e., a process in which both the minorities and the majority society must take active part.

During the last three centuries, Sweden has moved from religious unity to religious pluralism. This transition has been followed by shifts in religious liberty policy. From having been a country virtually void of religious liberty, Sweden shows today a far-reaching protection of religious rights. Historical processes which have been particularly conducive to this shift are immigration, religious revivalism, secularization and - as a consequence of these processes - a gradual severing of church-state ties. Today, the greatest challenges to religious liberty come from the presence of immigrant religious minorities which are new to Swedish society, and which it to some extent still finds it difficult to deal with.

In the dissertation, the issue of religious liberty is discussed from the perspectives of human rights and minority rights discourse, Christian theology, political philosophy and sociology (particularly sociology of religion). In the latter context, the concept of "religious culture" is introduced as a means to analyze different opinions and attitudes regarding religious liberty. The presentation also covers Islamic perspectives on religious liberty and human rights in general, as well as accounts of Muslim religious liberty situations in five West-European countries: Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. These countries (and their respective religious liberty situations) display certain resemblances, but also significant differences.

The Muslim immigrants' encounters with Swedish society have included several problems and areas of conflict. Some of the problems have concerned organizational, institutional and financial matters, matters of education and aspects of the right to religious observance. Alhough several of the perceived prolems remain, important advances in the Muslim religious liberty situation are shown to have occurred in recent years.


  • Jonas Alwall
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy, Ethics and Religion


  • Theology, Religious Culture, Religious Minorities, Muslims, Islam, Integration, Immigrant Policy, Immigration, Minority Rights, Religious liberty, Human Rights, Teologi, Non-Christian religions, Världsreligioner (ej kristendom)
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date1998 Mar 6
  • Lund University Press
Print ISBNs91-7966-514-4
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 1998-03-06 Time: 10:15 Place: Carolinasalen, Lundagårdshuset, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Nygren, Rolf Title: Prof. Affiliation: Uppsala ---