Finland is a constitutional republic of 5.2 million persons located in Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland. Its borders touch Norway, Sweden, and Russia.
The country's law provides for freedom of religion. The government recognizes the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Orthodox Church as state churches. Over 80 percent of the population belonged to the Lutheran Church. Nontraditional religious groups practiced their religion freely. There was a small but growing Muslim population and a small Jewish community. According to some estimates the Muslim population numbers about 20,000 and 55,000.
The oldest Muslim community in Finland are the Tartars. They originally came to the country to work on the construction of the Bomarsun fortress during the Tsarist reign. The ancestors of the present-day Tatars came to Finland from the 1870s to the mid 1920s from a group of some 20 villages in the Sergatch region on the Volga River, to the southeast of Nizhni-Novgorod, formerly Gorki.
In 1925, the first Islamic congregation (Finlandiya Islam Cemaati = Finnish Islamic Congregation) was founded. Finland was thus the first Western European country to officially recognise an Islamic congregation. An act on the freedom of religion had been adopted in 1922. Today, the congregation has mosques in Helsinki and Järvenpää. A second congregation of Tatars was established in Tampere in 1943.
With the easing of immigration Muslims from other parts of the world started arriving in the 80s. Now the predominant Muslim groups are Somali, Iraqi, Kurd, Persian, Tatar, Kosovars, Pakistani and Thai, in that order.
Halal in Sweden
Finding Halal meat in Finland is extremely hard to find as the state law prohibits the ritual slaughter. Most of the Halal meat is imported from outside. There are only a handful of restaurants which claim to serve Halal in the capital Helsinki. In 2007 a group of indigenous Finnish Muslims announced the formation of the Finnish Islamic Party. The party has the legalization of Halal slaughter as one of its campaign agenda.
Available data indicates that 17% of annual household income in Finland is spent on food. Using this estimate and the average annual income figures it will be safe to say that the Finnish Halal Market is worth more than € 50 million annually. The growing religiosity of this population offers a good opportunity for manufacturers to make products that meet their needs.