Wind of (Demographic) Change: Europe's Muslim Population Set to Triple by 2050


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 Thursday.

The think tank nevertheless admits that even the "zero" migration scenario will still result in considerable growth, and that Europe's non-Muslim population is projected to decline, in every scenario.

Under this scenario, the Swiss Muslim population would increase from 6.1% in 2016 to 8.2% in 2050 - in other words, from 500,000 to 660,000.

"Although there is understandably a lot of discussion about the impact of asylum-seekers on the population broadly and particularly the Muslim population in Europe, in fact the flow of migrants who are coming to go to school, to seek jobs and other kinds of regular non-asylum-seeker migration have been, and will likely continue to be, a significant part of the increase in the Muslim population", Hackett said, referring to regular migration.

Eastern Europe, meanwhile, is projected to have a low Muslim population of no more than 4.5% in any one country, with the exception of Bulgaria, where Muslims already comprise over 10% of the population, for historical reasons.

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Apart from migration, the number of Muslims in Europe is set to grow considerably through natural increases, the Guardian quoted the report as saying.

A new report by U.S. nonpartisan think tank Pew Research Center projects a dramatic rise in the Muslim population in many Western European countries over the next several decades, from about 5% of the continent now to up to 14% by 2050.

Using the high scenario, Germany would have the largest Muslim population, 17.5 million, because of the large number of refugees it has accepted in recent years.

"Migration, however, does mitigate this decline somewhat; almost half of all recent migrants to Europe (47 percent) were not Muslim, with Christians making up the next-largest group".

Under a medium scenario, which assumes the flow of refugees stopped in mid-2016 but "regular" migration continued, Europe's Muslim population would reach 11.2 percent (57.9 million).

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Immigration trends have generally shown a propensity to be at, or even beyond, the "high" projections established by migration observatories in the past, with cities like London becoming minority white British faster than thought.

Syria was the top country of origin for refugees and all Muslim migrants to Europe. Europe's non-Muslim population is estimated to decline. Germany might thus see its Muslim population rise from six percent to nearly 20 percent of the overall total by 2050.

Pew's projections showed Europe being unevenly affected by migration.

The third model was based on refugees, majority Muslim, continuing to arrive in the record numbers seen in 2015 and 2016.

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

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