A recent study by the Pew Research Center projecting a 35 percent increase in the worldwide Muslim population over the next 20 years has been making headlines and stirring debate about the immigration and integration of Muslims in Western nations. (See MPI's Elizabeth Collett discuss this topic on Russia TV's CrossTalk program.)
The Pew report, titled The Future of the Global Muslim Population, predicts that by 2030 the number of Muslims in Europe will grow by one-third and will represent roughly 10 percent of the population in France, 7 percent in Germany, and 8 percent in the Netherlands.
This comes at a time of increased discussion and policy action surrounding the integration and culture of Muslims in European society, and the Pew projections may spark new concerns in countries where anti-Muslim sentiments run high.
In Germany, for example, Chancellor Angela Merkel recently declared the nation's integration policy a failure, federal bank employee Thilo Sarrazin published an incendiary book blaming Muslims for many of the country's problems, and the state of Hesse has made the wearing of face veils by public-sector employees illegal.
Last fall, France passed a similar ban on face veils, forbidding all Muslim women to wear them in public. Moreover, according to a recent poll, a plurality of French and German citizens oppose the building of mosques and believe that Muslims are a threat to national identity and culture. (See the MPI Facebook Note about the poll.)
In the Netherlands, Geert Wilders's anti-Islamic Freedom Party is gaining political momentum, and many claim that the 48 percent rise in anti-Semitism reported in Holland in 2009 is the fault of the country's Muslim population. The Swedish town of Malmo has also seen an increase in anti-Semitism that has been attributed by some to Muslim immigrants.
The 2010 Transatlantic Trends in Immigration report, released last week by the US-based German Marshall Fund, indicates that majorities in Germany (67 percent), France (51 percent), and the Netherlands (56 percent) believe that Muslim immigrants in their countries are poorly integrated.
According to the Pew Research Center, its projections on the growth of the Muslim population take into account migration and birth rates among Muslims, but do not consider political climates, which are highly variable and inevitably play a role in how welcoming a particular country is perceived. It remains to be seen whether the current climate in Europe and North America will spark a measurable change over time in the growth of the Muslim population emigrating to either side of the Atlantic.
Editor, Migration Information Source