We are witnessing a continuous increase in the Muslim population in Europe. Even without any migration in the next 30 years, it is expected that the Muslim population in Europe will show a growth of at least 4.6%. Conversely, due to low birth rates, the Christian population is gradually declining.
According to the renowned public opinion research firm Pew Research Center, even without migration, the Muslim population in Europe is projected to increase between 4.6% and 7.4% in the next 30 years.
This research, titled “Rising Muslim Population in Europe,” examines the future of the growing Muslim population in Europe in three stages: “moderate migration impact,” “high migration impact,” and “without migration.” Let’s briefly delve into these three stages together.
Why is Islam on the Rise in Europe?
The primary reason for the increasing Muslim population in Europe is the youthfulness of the Muslim population and their higher fertility rates.
According to the second scenario of the research, if moderate migration continues to Europe, the Muslim population on the continent will increase by 11.2% in the next 30 years.
In the third scenario, if there is intense migration as seen between 2014 and 2016, the Muslim population in Europe will increase by 14% by the year 2050.
Rising Muslim Population in Germany
Examining the case of Germany alone reveals an expected increase from the current 6% to 20% in the Muslim population by 2050. This implies that in the future, one in five people in Germany could be Muslim. According to the research, Germany is the most sought-after destination for Muslim migration to Europe. Additionally, despite having the lowest birth rate in Europe at 1.5%, Germany has a high fertility rate among its Muslim population. The potential long-term transformation in Germany’s population composition in favor of Muslims underscores the importance of acknowledging the “Muslim reality” in Germany.
According to Pew’s research, from 2010 to 2017, 3.7 million Muslims migrated to Europe. Approximately 2.5 million of them fall under the category of regular migrants, including workers and students. The most popular European destination for regular migrants is the United Kingdom. The remaining 700,000 individuals who migrated to Europe during this period are refugees and asylum seekers. The report also emphasizes that approximately 160,000 Muslims who migrated to Europe during these seven years converted to Christianity or became non-religious.
While the Muslim population in Europe is on the rise, the native European population is gradually declining due to a fertility rate of 1.6%. For the population of a specific geographical area to renew itself without migration, the fertility rate must be at least 2.1%. The fertility rate among European Muslims, however, is 2.6%. This aspect of Europe’s low fertility rate is leading to increased retirement costs, an aging population, and a decrease in production and employment. According to the “Aging Report” published by the European Commission, Europe’s elderly dependency ratio will further increase in the future. While there are currently four working-age individuals per elderly person, predictions indicate that by 2050, this ratio will decrease to two working-age individuals per elderly person.
Statistics highlight the essential need for a young population in Europe. In a scenario where fertility rates are significantly low, migration emerges as a solution that not only rejuvenates the population but also introduces new dynamics to the region. The phenomenon of migration contributes to the long-term growth of national economies. Claims that immigrants take jobs away from locals are based on the argument of “fixed employment,” while, in reality, there is no fixed pie or fixed number of jobs in economic sharing. Immigrants not only do not take away jobs from locals but also contribute to expanding the economic volume.
In regions where Muslims are densely populated, perceptions are more positive
Pew’s research shows that in European regions with fewer Muslims, there is a more negative view towards Muslims, whereas in areas with a high Muslim population, perceptions are more positive. The research particularly notes negative perceptions in Eastern and Southern European countries such as Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Greece, where Muslims are relatively fewer. In France and Germany, where the highest number of Muslims reside, despite various radical incidents, the negative views towards Muslims are comparatively lower.
With a growing Muslim population in Europe, there comes an increased Muslim influence. The rise in Muslim influence poses a new challenge for the European Union, which advocates “Unity in Diversity.” Indeed, Muslims constitute the second-largest religious group in Europe. Currently, 5% of Europe’s population is made up of Muslims, and according to Pew’s research, this percentage will continue to increase. While the current European population of 495 million is projected to decrease to 463 million in 30 years, the Muslim population in Europe, currently at 25 million, is expected to triple to 75 million. Migration is a reality and a human right in the modern world; Europe must adopt a peaceful migration policy, focusing on increasing fertility rates or, at least, implementing a positive migration policy in the medium term.