Report: Muslim Population in Europe Projected to Rise, Migration or Not
Even if European countries closed their borders to all migrants and refugees, the percentage of Muslims on the continent would continue to rise over the next three decades, according to a report released Wednesday by the Washington-based Pew Research Center.
According to Pew’s data, Muslims made up 4.9 percent of Europe’s population in 2016, with an estimated 25.8 million people across 30 countries, up from 3.8 percent, or 19.5 million people, in 2010. The number of Muslim migrants arriving in Europe surged after 2014 to almost a half-million annually, largely due to people fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The countries covered in the study included the 28 European Union members, plus Norway and Switzerland.
The report considered three scenarios: zero migration between 2016 and 2050; medium migration, in which the flow of refugees stops but people continue to migrate for other reasons; and high migration, in which the record flow of migrants between 2014 and 2016 continues indefinitely with the same religious composition.
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. The study projected Muslims could make up 7.4 percent of the European population by 2050, even with zero migration.
Under the medium migration scenario, Muslims could account for 11.2 percent of Europe's population by 2050. While under the high migration, the record flow of migrants who came to Europe between 2014 and 2016 would continue indefinitely, resulting in 75 million Muslims in Europe, or about 14 percent of the population by the middle of the century.
But even the scenario with the largest growth leaves the Muslim population considerably smaller than the populations of both Christians and people with no religion in Europe, according to the report.
Pontiff slammed by for not publicly addressing Muslim Rohingya refugee crisis
Pope Francis has arrived in Bangladesh after a four-day visit to neighboring Myanmar, a trip marked by his refusal to publicly address the Muslim Rohingya refugee crisis.
The pontiff departed Myanmar Thursday after celebrating a final Mass for young Catholics in Yangon, the country's largest city and its former capital.
Francis has been criticized by human rights activists for not specifically mentioning the Rohingyas, a minority ethnic group that has been denied basic rights for decades in the majority Buddhist-majority Myanmar, which views them as immigrants from Bangladesh, despite the fact that many families have lived in Myanmar for generations.
Their situation has worsened since August, when the military launched a scorched earth campaign against Rohingya villages in northern Rakhine state in response to attacks on Myanmar police outposts on Rohingya militants. The brutal campaign, including reports of mass rapes and indiscriminate killings, triggered a mass exodus of more than 620,000 Rohingyas into Bangladesh, which the United Nations has described as "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing."
The pope has denounced the treatment of the Rohingyas in previous public remarks, but his advisers counseled him not to speak about the issue while in Myanmar, for fear of a backlash against the 650,000 Catholics in the country.
Myanmar Bishop John Hsane Hgyi went even further Wednesday, casting doubt about the reported atrocities against the Rohingyas, and urging critics of the Myanmar government to go to the scene "to study the reality and history" of the issue and learn the truth.
A Vatican spokesman said Wednesday that Pope Francis has not lost his "moral authority" on the issue, and suggested he may have been far more direct during his private talks with de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and powerful military chief Min Aung Hlaing.
Pope Francis is expected to meet with a group of Rohingya refugees during his stay in Bangladesh.