Published: Sat, December 02, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Muslim population in some European Union countries could triple

Muslim population in some European Union countries could triple

While Muslims made up six percent of Germany's population past year, their proportion would go up to 20 percent by 2050.

The study estimates 58.8 million Muslims would account for 11.2 percent of the population in a "medium migration" scenario in which migration maintains a "regular speed".

Overall, Muslims could make up over 11 percent of Europe's population in the coming decades, compared with just under 5 percent now, if legal migration levels are maintained, the US-based think tank said.

Meanwhile in the third category, which "assumes that the current refugee flows will continue in the coming decades, not only at the same volume but also with the same religious composition", France would have a Muslim population of 13.2 million, making up 18 percent of the population by 2050.

All three used a mid-2016 estimate of 25.8 million Muslims in Europe as a baseline to make the projections.

Syria was the top country of origin for refugees and all Muslim migrants to Europe.

A third, "high" migration scenario, in which the heavy influx of predominantly Muslim migrants recorded between 2014 and 2016 continues indefinitely, paints a far more pessimistic picture.

Pew, which based its projections on government data and other studies, explained the rise by saying that fertility rates were higher among Muslims, who are on average 13 years younger than non-Muslims.

"Predicting future migration levels is impossible, because migration rates are connected not only to political and economic conditions outside of Europe, but also to the changing economic situation and government policies within Europe", according to the study.

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Nations that have received relatively large numbers are projected to experience the biggest changes under the "high" migration scenario.

"If family reunification policies allow existing refugees (to bring their families), that would push us towards higher numbers, not necessarily towards levels that we've seen in last couple years, but higher than the medium scenario which is only regular migration", Hackett said.

Interestingly, researchers noted that while Europe's Muslim population is diverse, comprising Muslims born in Europe and in non-European countries, its self-identification still plays a role.

"This is because the United Kingdom was the top destination country for regular Muslim migrants as opposed to refugees", the report said.

Countries which have accepted a higher number of refugees, such as Sweden, would see the percentage of their Muslim population grow from 8 percent in 2016 to 31 percent in 2050. In Sweden, almost a third of the population (4.5 million, or 30 percent) would be Muslims, whereas in Austria and Germany Muslims would represent up to 19 percent of the population.

If arrivals halted altogether, France - which was home to an estimated 5.7 million Muslims (8.8 percent) in 2016 according to the report - would continue to have Europe's largest Muslim community.

The study would also appear to give the lie to some claims from Europe's far-right, which has been gaining ground in several countries.

The Pew Research Center says its latest report provides the first estimates of the growing size of Europe's Muslim population since the wave of refugees between 2014 and 2016, and is part of a broader effort to project the population growth of religious groups around the world.

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