The Danish Church (Folkekirken), the Queen and the Danish government proclaim themselves to be Lutheran Protestants. Officially, 92% of the Danish population are members of the Danish Church. With less than 3% of the population in Denmark Islam is the second largest religion; the Catholic church comes third.
Muslims in Denmark have mainly migrated from three countries in the 1970's; Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco and former Yugoslavia. Initially, the migrants came to Denmark in order to take up jobs temporarily, with the aim of returning to their country of origin. In time, it became apparent that they would settle permanently in Denmark and become part of the society. Immigration to Denmark was de facto stopped in 1973. New immigrants could only achieve resident status through marriage. Due to the intended transience of their immigration, no proper institutions were created and very little thought was given to the establishment of institutions to strengthen Islamic education and identity.
A second group of Muslims came to Denmark in the 1980ís and 1990's: in the 80's as refugees from Iran, Iraq and Palestine among others, in the 1990ís mostly from Somalia and Bosnia. Only refugees that have obtained permanent resident status and live outside the refugee camps are included in the statistics. Currently, Muslims with a refugee background comprise about 40% of the Muslim population in Denmark.
According to semi-official figures (2000), there are approximately 160,000 Muslims in Denmark of a total population of 5.3 million. Muslims therefore represents less than 3% of the total population. The Muslim population is divided in a number of national groupings (Turks, Pakistanis, Arabs, Bosnians, Somalis etc). Interaction across the national divisions is rare but is slowly starting to take shape.
Denmark is called "the country of unions". More than one million unions are established in Denmark. There is a long tradition in Denmark for organising in unions regardless of what the aims of the interest groups might be. This organisational structure makes it easier to communicate with the relevant authorities, to organise activities and to avoid personal economic responsibility and taxation.
Muslims in Denmark have also organised themselves in this Danish tradition.
Mosques in Denmark
There are, at present, no mosques in Denmark which has specifically been built with the aim of functioning as a mosque. Therefore, the traditional symbols of mosque architecture (dome and minaret) are non-existent. The few larger mosques, are former commercial/industrial buildings, while others are bungalows or apartment blocks. By and large, the mosques are situated in cellars and flats.
Very few of the mosques are self-owned, most of them being rented accommodation.
The usual process of acquiring a mosque, is that a group of Muslims in a given locality form an association (union) with a Danish name ( e.g. Islamisk Kultur Center). As rented accommodation require few commitments and the running of the mosque is paid by the users of the mosque, a number of mosques are shut down, while at the same time new mosques emerge in different parts of Denmark.