Until the late1980 s Sweden had the most liberal refugee policy in Europe, which is the reason why the Muslim migrant population includes more refugees from countries such as Turkey, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Iran. The immigration and naturalization laws allow application for citizenship after five years of residency and the asylum process is considered fast and less bureaucratic than in other European countries. Almost50 % of the Muslims in Sweden live in and around Stockholm with other centers in Malmoe, Gotteburg and other big cities.
The highest estimates for the late1990 s are at300 ,000, which would make up for3 .6% of the Swedish population. Many migrants are employed in industry and the service sector with a high percentage of semi-skilled and unskilled laborers. After 1975 Sweden adopted a multicultural policy affecting education, media and elections. Foreigners are allowed to vote and stand for office in local elections, teaching Swedish to immigrants and their children is an educational priority and government funds are available for immigrant associations, press and broadcasting in minority languages.
Though the Lutheran Church of Sweden is the state church, since 1951 the freedom of religion is part of the Swedish laws and the state can support different religious congregations. The only precondition to be entitled to that support is the foundation of a religious federation, with an established structure and membership lists. As a result the Muslim community enjoys such support, and over the years several Muslim federations have been established. The Swedish school system is an example for the integration of foreign children into the state schools, with gradual increase of teaching in Swedish and the incorporation of ethnic minority teachers to meet the needs of foreign children.