The Pew Research Center recently released a report that confirm what demographers have long projected: the effective Islamization of Europe. Birth rates that have declined for decades and rising immigration from Muslim countries are the engines of Europe’s transformation. Titled, “Europe’s Growing Muslim Population,” the Pew report estimates that the Muslim population of Europe is set to double or possible treble by 2050.

However, the baseline estimate used by Pew undercounted the number of Muslims by at least five million.

Pew estimates the current Muslim population in Spain, for instance, is 1,180,000 or 2.6 percent of the overall population. The majority are found in urban centers such as Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia. However, the Union of Islamic Communities in Spain (Unión de Comunidades Islámicas de España, UCIDE), asserts that Muslims in Spain stood at 1,919,141 in 2016, or 4.1 percent of the overall population. Therefore, the UCIDE estimates that there are about 750,000 more Muslims in Spain today than the estimate proffered by Pew.

Elsewhere, Pew "decided not to count" the more than one million Muslim migrants who arrived in Germany when Chancellor Angela Merkel open the borders in 2015/2016. Pew explained that this was because "they are not expected to receive refugee status."

Pew estimated the Muslims in Austria at 600,000, or 6.9 percent of the total population. This figure differs from that offered by the Austrian Integration Fund (Österreichische Integrationsfonds, ÖIF) of the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. OIF asserts that the Muslim population in Austria at 700,000, or 7.9 percent. By 2050, the difference of 100,000 Muslims may yield 350,000 more Muslims in Austria than the figure Pew projected. Based on OIF figures, Austria's Muslim population will reach almost 25 percent in 2050, as compared to the 19 percent projected by Pew. 

While Pew estimates Muslims in France to number 5,720,000, the French government has not counted people according to religious affiliation for more than 100 years. However, the report suggest that Pew is able to measure religious identify and practice there. Many Muslims from North Africa emigrated to France in the 1960s and 1970s. While they may have first been counted as foreigners at first, once naturalized they would count as French citizens, as would their children with no reference to religious affiliation. 

The Pew report appeared somewhat contradictory. While co-author and demographer Conrad Hackett claimed that by 2050, "there will be no country [in Europe] where Muslims make up more than a third of the population," his report states that Muslims in Sweden will make up  one-third of the population within 30 years. Cities such as Antwerp, Birmingham, Bradford, Brussels, Leicester, Malmö, and Marseille will see Muslim populations exceeding one third of their population by 2050.



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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