Kick-off seminar for Power of the Mosques: Researching Mosques in Europe and Denmark

Here is an overview of the seminar with programme and practical information:

About the seminar

The seminar has two purposes.

Firstly, it is our purpose to inaugurate an international network between scholars working with Islam and the mosque in Western Europe. The seminar and the network will especially focus on the research questions of the project.

Secondly, we hope to be able to publish the conference contributions in an edited volume or as a special issue on Journal of Muslims in Europe or similarly.


Thursday 7th December

12.45 – 13.00: WELCOME by Brian A. Jacobsen                                          

Chair: Dietrich Jung

13.00 - 13.45:  Mosques in Europe. Symbolic conflict and symbolic powers at play
Stefano Allievi

13.45 – 14.30:  Who is speaking for Islam? A perspective on Islamic authority in Sweden?Simon Stjernholm

14.30 – 15.00: Coffee, tea and cake

SECOND SESSION                                                   
Chair: Jørgen S. Nielsen

15.00 – 15.45: From Cellar to Centre: How Danish Mosques have changed over time
Lene Kühle & Malik Larsen

15.45 – 16.30: Mosque as symbol of institutionalized (empowered) Islam: the case of the Baltic States
Egdunas Racius

16.30 – 16.45: Coffee and tea

Chair: Göran Larsson

16.45 – 17.30: The Mosque as a Gendered Arena 
Line Nyhagen                                     

17.30 – 18.15: The Interspatial Mosque 
Abdul-Azim Ahmed

18.15 – 19.00: The linguistic frame of Islamic feminism
Jesper Petersen

19.30 - : DINNER - Ravelinen, Christianshavn                                
Speakers only

Friday 8th December

Chair: Niels Valdemar Vinding 

09.00 – 09.45: Integration, Enlightenment, or Rights? Three Perspectives on Hate Crimes 
against Muslims in Denmark                
Anne-Mai Flyvholm 

09.45 – 10.30: Musealisation of the Mosque. Conceptualizing the Mosque as Cultural Heritage in Denmark
Laura M. Schütze & Katrine Boserup Jensen 

10.30 – 10.45: Coffee, tea and cake


10.45 – 11.10: Constructing Conflict: The Politics of Mosque Building
Brian A. Jacobsen

11.10 – 11.30: The Socio-metrics of Imams and Mosques in Denmark 
Niels V. Vinding

11.30 – 11.50: Minority Making: How Mosques Shape Muslims
Kirstine Sinclair

11.50 – 12.10: Gender and Generational Counter-power in the Mosques 
Pernille F. Jensen

12.10 - 12.30: General discussion

12.30 – 12.45: Summaries  
Jørgen S. Nielsen

12.45 - 13.00: Network and publication

13.00 – 14.00: LUNCH, University of Copenhagen

14.00 - 15.30: Book launch 'Exploring the Multutude of Muslims in Europe'


Mosques in Europe: Symbolic Conflict and Symbolic Powers at Play
Professor Stefano Allievi
Department of Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Applied Psychology, University of Padua, Italy

Although forms of discrimination on the basis of religion are never completely absent, in no country and in no other case has the opening of places of worship taken on such a high profile in the discussion in public space as the question of mosques and Islamic places of worship, even in countries where such conflicts were previously unknown and mosques were already part of the landscape. Mosques are, among other things, a symbolic issue that concerns, materially, the control over the territory. At the same time and in the same sense, resistance to them becomes a very concrete and material sign of dominance and power over it. I will propose some considerations on conflicts over mosques in Europe, their main actors, their declared motivations and their symbolic reasons, trying to evaluate what deals effectively with mosques, and what is due instead to more profound reactions to Islam itself, differently motivated (‘cultural’ reasons, such as: foreignness of Islam to ‘our’ culture; defence of women’s rights; reciprocity; ‘non-integrability’ and/or incompatibility of Islam with Western/ European/Christian values, and others).

Contested Contributions: Reflections on a Swedish Muslim Preacher
Assoc. prof. Simon Stjernholm, PhD
Department of Cross Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Muslim preachers in European countries are often framed as a dangerous influence on young Muslims. Such fears are seldom informed by serious, sustained analysis of what young Muslim preachers actually say, how they say it, and how their message can be interpreted. This paper assumes that a new generation of preachers play vital roles in rearticulating Islam for young European Muslim audiences. It focuses on one particular Swedish Muslim preacher, building on a selection of his online media productions, interview material, as well as criticism that has been publicly directed at him. 

From Cellar to Centre: How Danish Mosques Have Changed the Last Decade
Professor, PhD Lene Kühle & MA Malik Larsen
School of Culture and Society - Department of the Study of Religion, Aarhus University, Denmark

Time changes things, and even though adherents to religious traditions often claim otherwise, religious institutions do not exempt themselves from this general rule. As a part of Danish society, Danish mosques are in a continuous development due to the changing demands from both Danish Muslim and the broader society, e.g. state regulations. One (of many) question then remains: How have the mosques of Denmark changed the last decade? Drawing on insight from interviews with representatives from 120 Danish mosques, the paper presents results on the developmental trajectories in the mosques in terms of subjects as accommodation, imams, language during sermons and the role of women.

Mosque as symbol of institutionalized (empowered) Islam: the case of the Baltic States
Prof. Egdūnas Račius, PhD
Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas, Lithuania

Of the three Baltic States, only Lithuania has historically had (and continues to have) purpose-built mosques. As none of the Baltic capitals has a proper mosque, local Muslim communities have for the past two decades been dreaming of and clamoring with the municipal authorities for allocation of land plots and permits for construction of purpose-built mosques, which they see as symbols of not only recognition of Muslim presence but also of empowerment of Islam in respective countries. The failure of Muslims in this respect, so far, is suggestive of organizational (and lobbying) weakness on their side in the face of unaccommodating position of municipal authorities and unsympathetic reception of the matter in the public. The protracted deadlock is particularly detrimental to the development and unity of local Muslim communities who remain institutionally and physically ‘roofless’ and thus volnurable.

The Mosque as a Gendered Arena: Barriers and Opportunities for Women’s Citizenship
Reader in Sociology, Line Nyhagen, PhD
Loughborough University, United Kingdom

Applying a feminist lens on citizenship, this paper situates the mosque as an arena for European Muslim women’s identity-making, participation, belonging and activism. The paper presents findings from a recent study where Muslim women in Norway, Spain and the UK were interviewed about their views on citizenship, gender equality, women’s movements and feminism. It also looks at some recent developments regarding Muslim women’s engagement with mosques, and examples of political claims-making related to Muslim women’s religious participation. Finally, the paper argues that patriarchal power in the mosque must be challenged from both within and without.

The Interspatial Mosque 
Abdul-Azim Ahmed, PhD
University of Cardiff, United Kingdom

Historically, the establishment of families by Muslims in diaspora across Europe often leads to a spurt in mosque building activity. In this context, the mosque can be seen as a response to particular social, cultural, and religious needs of the congregations who establish them.  Taking this further, I argue that contemporary mosques respond to their identified congregation's needs in relation to a theological model of fard, fard kifayah, and the sunnah. In this model, the latter, the sunnah becomes interspatial. A dynamic and always relevant function, adapting to various contexts and political climates.

The linguistic frame of Islamic feminism
PhD fellow, MA Jesper Petersen
History of Religions and Religious Behavioural Science, University of Lund

Islamic feminists utilize language in different ways to either challenge patriarchal structures or make transgressions disappear. Even though the actions of Islamic feminists sometimes are very similar, they are perceived in markedly different ways depending on how their actions are linguistically framed. Therefore, language to a large extent determines the field position of women’s mosques in the Muslim community and their relationship with the non-Muslim majority. This presentation is a comparison and analysis of four linguistic frames taken from: The Mariam Mosque in Copenhagen, the Women’s Mosque of America, The Muslim Women’s Council in the UK, The Ibn-Rush Goethe Mosque in Berlin.

Integration, Enlightenment, or Rights? Three Perspectives on Hate Crimes 
against Muslims in Denmark                 
MA Anne-Mai Flyvholm
Department of Cross Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

This presentation examines how Danish Muslim organizations perceive and articulate hate crime against Muslims in Denmark. I will present the main results of my Master’s thesis; A maximum variation case study of three Muslim organizations using analytical tools from discourse and narrative theory. Drawing on intersectional theory, organizations were included that vary on identity markers. The study found that the organizations articulate hate crime as part of a field of negative actions including hate speech and discrimination. While there are great similarities in how the organizations define hate crime, the study also found that they articulate the concept as part of very different socio-political contexts.

Practical information

The seminar is the kick-off-seminar for the research project “Power of the Mosques”, a three-year research grant financed by The Danish Council for Independent Research, Humanities (FKK) and all travel and accommodation expenses will be covered.

Place: University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Humanities, Njalsgade 122, 2300 Copenhagen S

Sign up

The seminar is closed to invited participants and guests only


For questions about practical issues for the seminar, write PhD-fellow, Pernille Friis Jensen, on

All other inquiries should be directed to the PI Associate Professor, ph.d., Brian Arly Jacobsen 

Phone: (+45) 5130 2481


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