Eurabia: demographics

By Simon Kuper in Paris

August 19 2007

Muhammad is the second most popular name for newborn boys in Britain, if you add together the various spellings. In the Seine-St-Denis suburb of Paris, Mohamed is number one. In the four biggest Dutch cities in 2005, either Mohamed or Mohammed came top.

Facts like these have led some pundits to forecast the Islamicisation of Europe – a future “Eurabia”. Bernard Lewis, a scholar of Islam, cited the immigration from Muslim countries and relatively high birth-rates of immigrants as trends that mean “Europe will have Muslim majorities in the population by the end of the twenty-first century at the latest.” ...

Nominal Muslims – whether religious or not – account for 3-4 per cent of the European Union’s total population of 493m. Their percentage should rise, but far more modestly than the extreme predictions. That is chiefly because Muslims, both in Europe and the main “emigrating countries” of Turkey and north Africa, are having fewer babies.

“Nobody knows how many Muslims there are in Europe,” says Ms Klausen. Few European states ask citizens about religious beliefs. Estimates based on national origins suggest that 16m nominal Muslims live in the EU. There are about 5m in France, 3.3m in Germany and 1.5m-2m in the UK.

“Berlin is a Muslim city, Paris is a Muslim city, and even Madrid or Turin to some degree,” Jocelyn Cesari, an expert on European Muslims at Harvard University, has said.

The EU’s most Islamic country is Bulgaria, where 1m Muslims account for about one-seventh of the population ...

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