There are nearly two million people in Spain who consider themselves Muslims. There are around 1.400 islamic buildings in the country, including six per cent conveying a radical message.
It is a religious group that has experienced tremendous growth in recent years. At least 6% of them are considered radical. According to demographic studies prepared by the “Unión de Comunidades islamic de España (UCIDE)” and “Observatorio Andalusí” there were 1,887,906 Muslims residents in Spain in 2015. It is 29,497 more than in 2014, an increase of 1.6%. Only during the last five years, the number of Muslim residents increased by 300,000 people.
The increasing number is not only due to immigrants, but a large and growing percentage are Spanish citizens, either because they have received Spanish citizenship or that they have been born here. In 2015 the number of Muslims with Spanish citizenship increased by 8.4% to 779,080 people.
Most muslims are from Morocco, Pakistan, Algeria, Senegal and Nigeria. Their presence is most noticeable in Melilla, Murcia, Basque Country, Alicante, Almeria, Cadiz, Cuenca, Granada, Huelva and Palencia. More than half of the Spanish Muslim citizens (433,030) have been born in Spain.
Looking at the areas with the highest percentage of Muslim population, Catalonia is in first place with 510,481. Then follows Andalusia with 300,460, Madrid with 278,976 and Valencia with 200,572 people. Ranked by municipalities Barcelona is first followed by Ceuta, Melilla, Madrid, Badalona, Cartagena, El Ejido, Malaga, Murcia, Terrassa, Valencia and Zaragoza.
The government agency “Observatorio del Pluralismo religioso en España” says that in June last year, there were 1,334 registered mosques in the country, representing 21% of the total number of sacred buildings in Spain. In addition to this there are a number of private “religious buildings” so the total number is estimated at about 1,400. Jihadist experts consider that at least 6% Of these are conveying a radical message. This is a minority, but it concerns more than 80 religious centers in Spain.
Radical but not violent
But radical does not necessarily violent, explains Riay Tatary from “La Comision Islamica de España (CIE)” and he believes that 99% of all Muslims are not violent. He also explains that the Quran has a clear prohibition against killing people.
According to the Interior Ministry, 617 people have been arrested in Spain for jihadism since 11M (the bombings in Madrid on March 11, 2004). Last year 75 people were arrested for jihadism and so far this year 14 people have been arrested. Most of those arrested are foreigners and many come from the regions bordering the enclave Ceuta.
A Molenbeek in Spain?
Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz, has been asked to explain whether there are similar neighborhoods in Spain as Molenbeck in Belgium (which has proven to be a haven for jihadists). He said it is important for us to be active and not lower your guard and not to give them any “ghettos”. The government has enabled a comprehensive plan to prevent radicalization. But Interior Ministry acknowledges that there are groups who are radicalized, especially in Catalonia.
Related article: Jihadists in Spain
Sources: The newspaper El Mundo, the Interior Ministry and the Guardia Civil.