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Muslim population in Europe projected to rise, further fueling immigration debate

Muslim population in Europe projected to rise, further fueling immigration debate

USA TODAY – CHASE WINTER

The share of Muslims living in Europe may double to more than 10% of the population by mid-century, according to new research on the continent’s growing Muslim population.

The projections of the Pew Research Center are likely to fuel further debate over immigration after a record influx of migrants and refugees into Europe in recent years.

The U.S.-based public opinion and demographic research center modeled Muslim population growth in Europe, defined as the 28 European Union countries plus Norway and Switzerland, on three scenarios taking into account natural population growth, future regular migration — such as for work or school — and refugee migration.

Even under the unrealistic assumption that all migration to Europe stopped today, known as “zero” migration, the percentage of Muslims in Europe would rise to 7.4% in 2050 from 4.9% in 2016. In Germany, the Muslim population in 2050 would rise to nearly 9% from 6% today.

Researchers cautioned that it is very difficult to anticipate the future and underscored that the projections are hypothetical. Push factors that impact migrant and refugee flows, such as instability in Africa and the Middle East, may wane or increase. Much also depends on economics and European governments, which have tightened migration policies domestically and on the E.U.’s borders.

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