Tallinn’s Muslim Community Embraces Estonian Identity through Successful Integration

Tartari Street, A Historically Muslim Neighborhood in Tallinn

There are about 1,300 Muslim residents out of Tallinn’s population of 435,839. The majority of Estonia’s Muslim population originates from former Soviet states, with the largest group from Tatarstan, Russia. Despite being such a small minority, local Muslims and ethnic Estonians consider the Muslim community well-integrated into Estonian society.

The Muslim community is from the Soviet era. One cannot distinguish between a native Estonian and a Soviet-era Muslim. We all look the same, wear the same clothes, and have the same jobs. Most Muslims here are Tatars but we also have Muslims from Pakistan and Nigeria.
— Female, 35, Teacher, Tallinn (Muslim)

Local members of the Muslim community reported that they enjoy the same opportunities in education and employment as their Estonian counterparts in Tallinn, while having the freedom to practice Islam without fear of discrimination. In turn, the Estonian Islamic Center Turath (Arabic for “Heritage”) provides a communal space for Muslims and non-Muslims to attend lectures and festivals.

Most of the Muslims in Estonia are very much like Estonians — we both have the same habits and interests.
— Male, 33, Tallinn (Muslim)

With the increase of recent immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa, local organizations, including the Estonian Islamic Center and the Vao Refugee Center, have risen to the challenge of helping refugees integrate into society by providing services and charities.

The Estonian Islamic Center works with the Vao refugee center during the holidays to serve meals to the refugees.
— Female, 26, Student, Tallinn (Muslim)