Published: Fri, December 01, 2017
World | By Camille Rivera

Britain's Muslim population to triple by 2050, new projections show

Britain's Muslim population to triple by 2050, new projections show

The research centre sets out three different projections for the coming decades, according to varying estimates of future migration levels.

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.

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.

Defining Europe as the 28 countries of the European Union plus Norway and Switzerland, and estimating its present Muslim population at about 25.8 million people (or 4.9% of the total population), the think tank concluded that even if all Muslim migration into Europe were immediately halted, the continent's Muslim population would still rise by almost 33% (to 7.4%) in just over a generation.

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A second, "medium" migration scenario assumes that the flows of refugees stop, but "regular" migrants continue to come for reasons other than fleeing wars and instability. The report also highlighted the role of migration in stemming population decline in Europe. The difference is even larger in Sweden, where the Muslim population could make up anywhere between 11 percent and 31 percent depending on immigration patterns.

Given the trends observed in the last five years, this "zero migration" scenario seems unlikely.

"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. Germany - the country that has taken in the highest number of migrants since 2015 - could be made up of anywhere between 9 percent and 20 percent Muslims by 2050. The number of Muslim migrants arriving in Europe surged after 2014 to nearly a half-million annually, largely the result of people fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under the first scenario, the population would continue to grow because Muslims are, on average, 13 years younger than other Europeans and also have a higher birthrate. 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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Countries that had comparatively few Muslim residents in 2016, such as Poland (0.1 percent), would continue to have few by 2050 under all three scenarios. Even with "high" migration, Poland's Muslims are expected to total no more than 60,000.

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

Hungary received among Europe's highest numbers of asylum applications from Iraq and Syrian refugees between 2010 and 2016.

In its report 'Europe's Growing Muslim Population, ' the US-based research center says the United Kingdom has been the major destination for economic migrants coming to Europe, while Germany has been the top destination for refugees.

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