Europe's Muslim population to grow strongly


Under that scenario Muslims would account for 14 percent of Europe's population in 2050, which Pew said was "still considerably smaller than the populations of both Christians and people with no religion". It attributed the rise to the levels of migration, as well as the fact that Muslims statistically tend to have a higher birth rate and lower average age compared to other Europeans.

A revealing survey by Pew Research Center, "Europe's Growing Muslim Population", looks at the future of the 25.8 million Muslims now residing in European countries. "Levels of religious commitment and belief vary among Europe's Muslim populations", the report said. These fears have also spread across the Atlantic into the United States, where Muslims make up 1 percent of the population.

The report considered three scenarios: zero migration between 2016 and 2050; 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.

The study projected Muslims could make up 7.4 percent of the European population by 2050, even with zero migration.

He also pointed out that, whereas the Pew study assumed the birth rate of Muslims in Switzerland would remain at 2.1 compared with 1.5 for non-Muslims, "in many Muslim countries a strong decline in the birth rate has been noticed".

Europe received more than one million migrants and refugees in 2015, according to figures from the UN's refugee agency. In this scenario, Muslims are expected to reach 11.2% of Europe's population by 2050.

"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. In the high migration scenario, Germany and Sweden would have the biggest increases because both countries took in the most asylum-seekers during the height of the refugee crisis two years ago.

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Meanwhile, some countries that had comparatively few Muslim residents in 2016 would continue to have few by 2050 in all three scenarios.

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.

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.

PARIS: 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, a report by a US-based think tank said on Thursday.

Should that happen, several major European countries are expected to shoulder most of the burden.

In contrast, "high" migration would see Germany have by far Europe's highest number of Muslims by the middle of the century - 17.5 million, according to Pew.