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Arabs in Europe

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Title: Arabs in Europe  
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Subject: Arab diaspora, Arabs in Sweden, Lebanese people in Germany, Arabs in Romania, Arabs in Bulgaria
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Arabs in Europe

Arabs in Europe
العرب في اوروبا
Philip the Arab
Julia Domna
Abd ar-Rahman III
Zeinab Badawi
Alexander Siddig
Amin Maalouf
Carlos Ghosn
Salem Al Fakir
Sami Khedira
Stephan El Shaarawy
Magdi Yacoub
Jim Al-Khalili
Bashar Rahal
Giuseppe Simone Assemani
Adel Tawil
Ramses Shaffy
Regions with significant populations
 France 4,000,000–7,000,000[1]
 Germany 400,000–500,000[2]
 Netherlands 480,000–613,800[3]
 United Kingdom 240,545[4]
 Romania 5,000[5][6]
European languages, Arabic
Predominantly Muslim
with Christian and Jewish minorities
Related ethnic groups
Arabs (Arab diaspora)

Arabs in Europe are people of Arab descent living in Europe today and over the centuries. Several million Arabs are residents in Europe. They form part of what is sometimes called the "Arab diaspora", i.e. ethnic Arabs or people descended from such living outside the Arab World. The history of Arabs in Europe goes back a long way. Arab presence in Europe started around the time during Roman rule, mostly assimilated Arabs from Syria. The golden age of Arab culture in Europe started during the 700s C.E., when Arab and Muslim armies conquered the Iberian Peninsula that lasted until the 1500s when the European Christian armies drove them out. Most of the Arabs in Europe today are from the Maghreb.


The current estimate of the Arab population in Europe is approximately 5 million, mostly concentrated in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Greece. The majority of migrants come from Morocco (1.4 million), Algeria (1.3 million), Tunisia (950,000), Lebanon (700,000), Palestine (700,000), Syria (350,000), Iraq (250,000), Egypt (220,000), Jordan (150,000), Yemen (150,000), Libya (100,000) and Sudan (100,000).[7]

Most Arabs in Europe are followers of Islam but there is also a sizable Arab Christian community living in Europe. For example, almost half of Lebanese immigrants are Christian. Moreover, Arab Christians are more likely to seek refugee status than Arab Muslims. There is also a minority practicing Judaism. They usually aren't considered "Arab" or refer to themselves as "Arab", but rather other times, in Israel "Mizrahi Jews" or "Musta'arabim" meaning "Arabized Jews".


Pre-Islamic Era

Arab presence Europe predates Islam, and became predominant during the eras of the Roman and Byzantine Empire, the overwhelming being Syrian Arabs. The Romans conquered Syria, and named the province Arabia Petraea, and led a failed invasion of Yemen and South Arabia and what they called Arabia Felix or "Happy Arabia". Although at the time, Syria was a non-Arab nation for the most part, it had already been home to a large Arab minority, originating from Yemeni migrants to the Syrian desert. These were assimilated Arabs, and they established a well-known presence, especially in the Severan Dynasty. In the late 180s, the Roman emperor Septimus Severus married a prominent Syrian Arab by the name of Julia Domna. Domna had a descendant, Elagabalus who eventually became Roman Emperor as well. In 244 A.D., another Syrian Arab by the name of Marcus Julius Philippus or Philip ascended to the Roman throne upon Emperor Gordian III's death. He was given the famous nickname Philip the Arab (Latin: Philippus Arabus) and came from an equestrian family. His father Julius Marinus was known to have been an Arab tribal leader and a prominent Roman citizen who played a part in Philip's ascension to the throne. The Arabs were more culturally independent under Byzantine rule. Originally Yemeni pagan migrants, they had adopted Christianity, and bore Arabic names not Latin or Greek.

The famous Syrian queen Zenobia led a famous revolt against the Roman Empire. After suffering an eventual defeat against the Romans, she spent the last few years of her living in the empire. It is claimed that Zenobia was an Arab, Aramean or of Jewish descent.

Arab occupation of Europe

The southern Italian city of Lucera was briefly, during the 13th century, made into an enclave for Arabs deported after the reconquest of Sicily. After they were then expelled from the city, their mosque was converted into Lucera Cathedral.

Arabs in Europe have a history beginning with the Arab Empire, which conquered the Iberian Peninsula, including what is now Spain and Portugal, in 711 AD. Other Arabs occupied the Italian island of Sicily from 831 to 1072. Arabs were later expelled from those domains after the Reconquista and the Catholic Church's Inquisition of non-believers. There were also brief periods of independent Arab-Islamic colonization and occupation, in modern-day France, Switzerland, and Italy, using Fraxinet in the Gulf of St. Tropez as a base for raids and colonisation.[8]

The Iberian Peninsula was mapped as "Al-Andalus" by the new Muslim conquerors. The Arabs, as well as the overall Muslim populations (a mix of Berbers and Arabs) of Al-Andalus and North Africa, were referred to as "Moors". Spain enjoyed a golden era of Islamic culture, accompanied by a golden age of Sephardic Jewish culture. This era spawned great Arabic polymaths and intellectuals such as Averroes, Albucasis and Maimonides. Although Maimonides was regarded as a Jewish philosopher, he wrote all of his works in Arabic (with the exception of the Mishneh Torah written in Hebrew), and lived his entire life in the Arab World. Not only is he famous in Jewish history, but also in Islamic and Arab history.[9] The Islamic rule in Spain also saw the birth of the Aljamiado alphabet, an Arabic alphabet for the Spanish language. In the 1400s, the Muslims were defeated thanks to a well-orchestrated offensive by the Christian armies in the drama known as the Reconquista (meaning "re-conquering" in Spanish and Portuguese). Much of the architecture that was concocted from this era remains intact in Spain and functions as famous tourist destinations since the Catholic monarchs decided to use them rather than destroy them.

After the Moors lost control of Spain, King Philip II made treaties with them allowing them to practice their religion if they gave up their sovereignty, signing the Treaty of Granada in 1491. The Catholic monarchs however, abrogated the treaties and threatened to expel the Moors if they did not become Christians. The Moors did so, but continued speaking Arabic, and using Aljamiado alphabet for spoken Spanish. Some followed Islam in secret (Crypto-Islam). They were later referred to as Moriscos, Moors and their descendants who converted to Christianity rather than be expelled. Religious conversion was simply not enough for the Catholic monarchs. Phillip II implemented a policy to fully assimilate the Moriscos into the Christian Spanish population and eliminate Moorish and Arab culture from Spain. The Moriscos were forced to abandon their Arabic names and adopt a completely Hispanized heritage and give up their children to be educated by priests. Philip II also made speaking Arabic illegal in the kingdom, ordered all Arabic texts to be burned, and banned Moorish attire. After a failed revolt by Morisco leader Aben Humeya (or Ibn Umayyah) in 1568, the Christian monarchs expelled the Moriscos from Spain. Many of these Moriscos headed for North Africa, mainly in Morocco, where many of their descendants settled.

Modern migration

The post-World War II migration of Arabs to Europe began as many Arabs from former French colonies like Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon and Syria migrated permanently to France. Another source of migration began with guest workers, particularly from Morocco, who arrived under the terms of a Labour Export Agreement between several European countries including Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and France. Other events in the Arab world sent new immigration waives to Europe like the Palestinian exodus, the Lebanese Civil War, the first and second Iraq war, Libyan Civil War and Syrian civil war. Many other Arabs emigrated to Europe because of political issues in their native countries. Arabs who studied in European universities and decided to stay are another source of migration.

After the 2011 events of the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Libya, around 20,000 Tunisian and also Libyan immigrants have left their countries for France and Germany, migrating through Italy. Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel recommended suspending the Schengen Agreement and imposing border control in order to keep immigrants from migrating to their countries, but no actions have yet been taken on the issue. Currently, Italy and Greece continue to receive migration waves from Egypt and Syria since the violence in these two Arab countries escalated in 2013.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Crumley, Bruce (24 March 2009), "Should France Count Its Minority Population?", Time, retrieved 11 October 2014 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Dutch media perceived as much more biased than Arabic media - Media & Citizenship Report conducted by University of Utrecht", Utrecht University, 10 September 2010, retrieved 29 November 2010 
  4. ^ "REPORT ON THE 2011 CENSUS – MAY 2013 – Arabs and Arab League Population in the UK". National Association of British Arabs. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
  5. ^ 500 de arabi din Romania, cercetati pentru infractiuni economice - Arhiva noiembrie 2007 -
  6. ^ Orientul Mijlociu de langa noi: arabii din Romania, dincolo de sabloane
  7. ^ Intra-Regional Labour Mobility in the Arab World, Facts and Figures, International Organization for Migration, 2010, retrieved 2010-07-21 
  8. ^ Robert W. Lebling (September–October 2009). "The Saracens of St. Tropez". Saudi Aramco World. Retrieved 16 December 2010. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Six Egyptian migrants drown on 20-metre swim from boat to Sicily beach
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