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Muslim population in some EU countries could triple

28th Dec 2017
Muslim population in some EU countries could triple

Harun Nasrullah

According to the latest projections, the Muslim population in western European countries could triple in the next 30 years while barely changing in eastern Europe.

In its report Europe’s Growing Muslim Population, Pew Research Centre predicts stark west-east divide in growth.If high migration continues, Germany’s Muslim population is projected to grow from 6.1 percent to 19.7 percent in 2050, whereas neighbouring Poland’s share would change from 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent.

Even if all current 28 European Union members, plus Norway and Switzerland, closed their borders, the Muslim population share in the west would continue to grow owing to a younger age profile and higher fertility rates but remain very low in the east.

In 2016 Muslims constituted 25.8 million of 30 European countries population, up from 19.5 million people in 2010.

The number of Muslim migrants arriving in Europe surged after 2014 to almost half a million annually, due to people fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Researchers considered three scenarios up to 2050: zero migration; medium migration, in which the flow of refugees stops but people continue to migrate for other reasons; and high migration, in which the record flow of migrants between 2014 and 2016 continues indefinitely with the same religious composition.

In the zero migration scenario, Europe’s Muslim population is expected to rise from 4.9 percent to 7.4 percent. Apart from Cyprus, which has a high Muslim share (25.4 percent) due to the historical presence of Turkish Cypriots, France would have Europe’s biggest share of the population with 12.7 percent, up from 8.8 percent.

In the most likely scenario, medium migration Sweden would have the biggest share of the population at 20.5 percent.

The UK’s share would rise from 6.3 percent to 16.7 percent. Finland’s Muslim share would grow from 2.7 percent to 11.4 percent and most western European countries would face a big jump.If high migration continues Sweden’s Muslim share will grow to 30.6 percent, Finland’s to 15 percent and Norway’s to 17 percent.

In eastern Europe, most countries will maintain a relatively low Muslim share of the population, with only Hungary and Greece seeing significant increases.

Apart from migration, the number of Muslims in Europe is set to grow noticeably through natural increases. Europe’s Muslims have more children than members of other religious groups or people of no religion, the study shows. The European average fertility rate is 2.6 for Muslims compared to 1.6 for non-Muslims.

The Muslim population is also much younger than non-Muslims. The proportion of Muslims under the age of 15 is 27 percent, nearly double the proportion of under-15 non-Muslims at 15 percent.Pew report predicts that “While Europe’s Muslim population is expected to grow in all three scenarios – and more than double in the medium and high migration scenarios – Europe’s non-Muslims, on the other hand, is projected to decline in total number in each scenario.”

 

Historically, a relatively small share of migrants to Europe were refugees fleeing violence or persecution, with most coming for other reasons. Nearly half of all recent migrants to Europe were non-Muslims, with Christians making up the next largest group.

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