The representation of diverse groups in politics and policy-making process constitutes one of the pillars of democratic regimes.
Yet, Muslim minorities of European countries face a considerable lack of political representation.
Only a few of conservative Muslims manage to get a position in national politics and legislative institutions.
Moreover, the presence of Muslim deputies in some European states’ parliaments does not automatically lead to the political representation of Muslims and to the respect of their interests.
Muslim minorities are significantly underrepresented in Western European politics, albeit with meaningful variation across countries. At a purely descriptive level, on average, Muslims are only represented approximately by one one-third, or even only one-fourth (depending on the method of aggregation), of what their actual demographic weight in Western European polities would suggest.
In other words, if Muslim minority representation were to be proportionate to their share of the population, there would be at least three times, and at most four times as many (depending on the method of aggregation) Muslim-origin representatives in Western European legislatures as there are today.
In some polities, such as France, the level of underrepresentation can be described as egregious. There was not a single Muslim-origin member of parliament (MP) in the French national assembly representing mainland France (the so-called “hexagon”) in 2010, whereas if French Muslims were proportionately represented, there would have been 48 Muslim-origin MPs.
In the case of female Muslim MPs, an additional visible dimension of this exclusion is the fact that despite numerous political and public controversies on the headscarf issue, there is not and has never been a single Muslim woman with a headscarf elected to a national parliament in any continental European country, including both Western and Eastern European countries.10 This absence is particularly stunning if we consider the fact that there have been dozens of Muslim-origin women elected to the national legislatures, and that in many European countries (such as Germany and Austria) Muslim women were elected to the national legislatures before Muslim men, and continue to be represented in greater numbers.