Representations of religion in secular states: The Muslim communities in Sweden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The presence of Muslim populations in Western European societies is a relatively new phenomenon which begs the question how these societies treat religious minorities. This article on the Swedish case begins with a brief history of the historical development of Sweden from a religious state based on the Lutheran faith to today’s secular state in which state and religion are officially separated. Then the emergence of a sizable Muslim population in the latter part of the 20th century is discussed. The secular character and religious neutrality of the state offer religious minorities spaces to practice their religions. On the other hand, Swedish society, politics and law are still premised on certain Christian notions of what religion should be. Because of the relatively new presence of Muslims there is still no solid religious structure and Islamic organizations have to adapt to the pre-existing religious structures. The presence of a large Muslim minority has affected the mindset of the members of this minority as well as the Swedish host society.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Social Sciences


  • religious minorities, freedom of religion, democracy, secularism, Sharia
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)524-538
JournalContemporary Arab Affairs
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch