Lithuania: Muslim Community Has Grown From 3,000 A Few Years Ago To More Than 15,000 – OpEd


Until very recently, the Muslim community in Lithuania was small, the remnant of the Tatars who came to that country half a millenium ago. But now, as a result of immigration from Muslim countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus and some conversions, it has grown to more than 15,000 now, according to the leaders of the community.

If their estimate is correct, that is a dramatic rise from the 3,000 they and the Lithuanian government said was the case a few years ago ( and

In the past, most of the Lithuanian Muslims lived in small towns and rural areas; but now, almost two-thirds live in Vilnius because that is where immigrants can find work. The number attending prayers at the capital’s only mosque has risen from 600 to 700 a year ago to “approximately 1500″ now, leaders of the community say.

Services there are now in Russian because that is the language that most of the immigrants know, but the mufti says that he looks forward to the day when there will be more converts from among Lithuanians and services can be conducted in Lithuanian, the language of the country where they live.  

Relations between Muslims and other groups in Lithuania remain good, although anti-Muslim propaganda from Europe has led to some deterioration, the local mufti says. And most newly arrived Muslims have been able to live their own lives and integrate into Lithuanian society without difficulty.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *