Will Pew Muslim birth rate study finally silence the “Eurabia” claim?

January 27, 2011
paris prayers

(Photo: Muslims who could not fit into a small Paris mosque pray in the street, a practice the French far-right has compared to the Nazi occupation, December 17, 2010/Charles Platiau)

One of the most wrong-headed arguments in the debate about Muslims in Europe is the shrill “Eurabia” claim that high birth rates and immigration will make Muslims the majority on the continent within a few decades. Based on sleight-of-hand statistics, this scaremongering (as The Economist called it back in 2006) paints a picture of a triumphant Islam dominating a Europe that has lost its Christian roots and is blind to its looming cultural demise.

The Egyptian-born British writer Bat Ye’or popularised the term with her 2005 book “Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis” and this argument has become the background music to much exaggerated talk about Muslims in Europe. Some examples from recent weeks can be found here, here and here.

A good example is the video “Muslim Demographics,” an anonymous diatribe on YouTube that has racked up 12,680,220 views since being posted in March 2009. Among its many dramatic but unsupported claims are that France would become an “Islamic republic” by 2048 since the average French woman had 1.8 children while French Muslim women had 8.1 children — a wildly exaggerated number that it made no serious effort to document. It also predicted that Germany would turn into a “Muslim state” by 2050 and that “in only 15 years” the Dutch population would be half Muslim. “Some studies show that, at Islam’s current rate of growth, in five to seven years, it will be the dominant religion of the world,” the video declares as it urges viewers to “share the Gospel message in a changing world.”


The BBC produced its own video entitled “Welcome to Eurabia?” that gave a point-by-point rebuttal of the video’s claims. Watching “Muslim Demographics” and “Welcome to Eurabia?” back-to-back provides a useful lesson in the dark art of twisting statistics. The image at left, shows a fictional flag of “Eurabia” created by Oren Neu Dag.

Articles defending the “Eurabia” claim have often been so shrill that they essentially discredited themselves as serious arguments. But it could be difficult to find a solid statistics that gave an overall view of what was actually happening. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has stepped up with an impressive study entitled “The Future of the Global Muslim Population” (here’s the press release, report and graphics here). As we summarised it in our report Muslim birth rate falls, slower population growth:

Falling birth rates will slow the world’s Muslim population growth over the next two decades, reducing it on average from 2.2 percent a year in 1990-2010 to 1.5 percent a year from now until 2030, a new study says.

Muslims will number 2.2 billion by 2030 compared to 1.6 billion in 2010, making up 26.4 percent of the world population compared to 23.4 percent now, according to estimates by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life…

“The declining growth rate is due primarily to falling fertility rates in many Muslim-majority countries,” it said, noting the birth rate is falling as more Muslim women are educated, living standards rise and rural people move to cities.

peshawar women and children

(Photo: Muslim women and their children in Peshawar, Pakistan, April 26, 2009/Ali Imam. The report says Pakistan will overtake Indonesia as the world's most populous Muslim country by 2030)

The proven demographic fact that birth rates have been falling among Muslim women, both in Muslim majority countries and western countries where Muslims have migrated, is not new. Nor are articles debunking the idea that Muslims will become the majority in Europe (see here and here and here). But my own experience in discussing this with non-Muslims in Europe and the United States says this message does not seem to be getting through. The fact that Muslim birth rates, while still higher than those for non-Muslims, are actually falling seems to surprise people who do not follow these issues closely.

There are many legitimate questions concerning Muslim minorities in western countries. Should Muslim women be allowed to cover their faces in public? Do state schools have to provide halal meals? Does sharia have any place in the western legal system? Should Muslims be allowed to pray in the streets? What does the decline of Christianity in Europe mean for the continent? These issues have to be debated openly —“The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom,” as Yahya Hendi, the Muslim chaplain at the Catholic university Georgetown in Washington put it at a conference at UNESCO in Paris two years ago. But while citizens have a right to have their own opinions, they can’t just make up their own “facts” and expect to be taken seriously. Twisting statistics only distorts the debate and risks leading to unfounded conclusions.

london sikhs

(Photo: Britain's Prince Charles visits a Sikh temple in Southall, London, June 13, 2003. Sikhism is another world faith the Pew Forum will study in future reports/Max Nash)

This study raises further questions that the Pew Forum cannot yet answer. The report’s preface asks “Is Islam the world’s fastest-growing religion? If Islam is growing in percentage terms, does that mean some of the world’s other major faiths are shrinking? Is secularism becoming more prevalent, or less?” It doesn’t yet have the data, but it plans to issue a similar report on the prospects for Christianity worldwide next year, followed up by others analysing the trends for “other major world faiths, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Judaism. We will also look at the size and growth of the population that is not affiliated with any religious tradition.”

What do you think? Is this report a surprise? Which interesting trends could the other reports bring to light?

UPDATE: In a telephone conference with journalists later on Thursday, Pew Forum researchers commented on the study. I asked what the results said about the “Eurabia” claim.

Senior researcher Brian Grim said: “Across the next 20 years, we’re only seeing a 2 percent rise in the total share of Europe that is Muslim. We’re projecting that the growth rate is slowing. So this rise is very very modest. It’s a relatively small share of the overall population in Europe…  There’s no real scenario that we’ve looked at that this ‘Eurabia’ scenario would come to be.”

Alan Cooperman, associate director for research, said the percentages of Muslims in some European populations would rise from 3 to 5 percent to between 6 and 10 percent by 2030. “Those are substantial increases but they are very far from the ‘Eurabia’ scenario of runaway growth,” he said. “We do not see either wordlwide or in Europe runaway growth. The growth rates are slowing.”

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Posted by ‘Nuff said’ – Opinions Rants Raves – Garysworld USA – Jan 27th – GarysWorld USA | Report as abusive

Overwhelming evidence appears to indicate that Islam is a grave threat to the survival of civilization …..Surprisingly few people are the least bit concerned ….In any case , there is the daunting question of just how all Islamic presence could most effectively be eradicated from the community of civilized nations …possibly it is already too late ….

Posted by bocacassidy | Report as abusive

Wow…can someone put the troll back under the bridge? The point of the article was the importance of baseing our judgements on hard facts vice suppositions/fear. (SIGH) Pity the ‘faithful’ that actually believe the panicking troll. Tolerance for differing belief systems is a sign of a mature civilization. Make respect contagious lest we all be ‘eradicated’ by small minded extremists telling us how to think of the world and hate each other.

Posted by yogadragon | Report as abusive

The last Picture is about NOT muslims. These are sikhs. Please put some caption of something which does not mislead readers to think that they are muslim too.

Regarding the rest of the article…. yes we need to wake up and put a ban or something on Islam. We do not want Sharia Law implemented in WEst .

Posted by ldajksldjkals | Report as abusive

Your article is reflecting ignorance because of the last picture posted – showing Sikhs in turbans – they are NOT Muslims ! Ignorant AND offensive to Sikhs !

Posted by Ms-Entrepreneur | Report as abusive

Just 40 years ago liberals laughed at the idea that America would ever be majority non-white. Now they say the same thing about Europe.

If you keep importing millions of foreigners a year and they have a higher birth rate than the natives what other result could there be, other than Eurabia?

And it isn’t about skin color or religious beliefs, but what the immigrants do. A civilization can not exist without constant sacrifice. If you want food you have to grow it, housing you have to build it, etc. And the harder you’ve worked to build a civilization, the more it will bother you when you have to share it with people who try to transform it into unrecognizable. Hence ‘tolerance’ is inversely proportional to civic duty. Either people begin to say “Gee, why bother building a civilization if it’s just going to be transformed into the unrecognizable anyway” or the presence of the Muslims will become truly unbearable. Either way, another mountain of corpses could be in our future if we keep importing these people.

Posted by TomSwift51 | Report as abusive

[…] Read More: Will Pew Muslim birth rate study finally silence the “Eurabia” claim? (Reuters) […]

Posted by Pew Releases Muslim Futures Findings | Report as abusive

What the Pew study doesn’t address is the role conversion plays. Even if their projections hold true there is a possibility that conversion rates will add to the actual percentage of Muslims in the West. Beyond the question of demographics there’s the question of whether tolerance is called for when faced with intolerance. Noxious ideologies should not be tolerated, and there’s little justification to respect Wahhabist and other supremacist sects no matter how shrilly demand it. Also, the practice of rioting and issuing death fatwas every time a cartoonist draws a satirical cartoon of Mohammad is completely incompatible with Western values, as is the rabid homophobia and misogyny seemingly hardwired in to Islamic ideology.

Posted by morty62 | Report as abusive

[…] via Will Pew Muslim birth rate study finally silence the “Eurabia” claim? | Analysis & Opinion |. […]

Posted by Debunking Muslim takeovers by birthrate | Cranach: The Blog of Veith | Report as abusive

To all readers who objected to this photo of Prince Charles visiting a Sikh temple — due to a technical problem, this post unfortunately did not show the captions originally provided for the pictures. They were in the underlying HTML code but somehow did not appear in the final browser view. As you can now see, the photo was chosen to accompany the adjacent paragraph that mentions future Pew Research reports into other world faiths including Sikhism. It was chosen as an example of today’s multifaith reality in many countries — here is the man in line to become the next head of the Church of England paying a respectful visit to a Sikh temple. Readers who objected to this apparently did not read the adjacent paragraph and make the connection between its content and the content of the photo. Comments implying that Reuters journalists cannot distinguish between Muslims and Sikhs are baseless. Now that the caption is visible, the appropriateness of this photo should be clear to all.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

It doesn’t matter how many researches or statistics prove that this whole “euroasia” thing is myth, some people choose to believe what they want and prefer to resort to anonymous videos and comments (most of which cite no credible references) on youtube rather than scientific research.

Posted by Roger212 | Report as abusive

[…] Pew findings demonstrate that fear of a Muslim takeover was largely the product of hysteria. France is not headed toward becoming an “Islamic republic” by 2048, as has been claimed, and Germany is not on its way to becoming a “Muslim state” by […]

Posted by No, Muslims are not taking over the world | John Esposito and Sheila Lalwani | vallierojas | Report as abusive

40%+ of all births in France are to Muslim women as reported on “Hillbuzz” Feb 19, 2011. This simple demographic has been accelerating since Algeria. Seems easy to say, “Those who dominate the class rooms of this decade will dominate the nation in the next”. Was that so hard ?

Posted by alwanderer | Report as abusive

Of course the Eurabia claim will not die. We have to accept there exists a plethora of virulent anti-Muslim hatemongers akin to the anti-Semites of yesteryears as amply demonstrated by the comments above. Heck these are the same low-information, blowhard, Islamophobes who believe Obama is not a US citizen, he was born in Kenya, and was/is a Muslim.

I find it ironic that we have Sikhs commenters getting riled up for fear of being portrayed as “Muslims” when their very religion is owed to Muslim Sufi saint…and just recently was known as the official face and religion of terror in India throughout the 80s and 90s. Some chutzpah.

Lastly I for one would like to see the Eurabia myth come to fruition though unfortunately it won’t. It’ll be nice to show the dastardly Europeans who colonized, plundered, looted, and murdered countless souls and treasures of 3rd world many of them Muslims, what happens when a shoe is on the other foot. In this case the consequences of their action, when the colonized subjects are brought back for labor and peacefully co-exist with their colonizer. Though Pew says it won’t happen :(

Posted by revel224 | Report as abusive

[…] Center has predicted that Muslims will make up 10% of the British population in the year 2030. Hardly Eurabia, no, but a sizeable chunk of the populace, especially considering that they’re liable to be […]

Posted by On Non-Violent Extremism… « Back Towards The Locus | Report as abusive

At the present time, people of European racial background make up approximately 8% of the world’s population, and that figure is shrinking. Even though Europeans are one of the world’s three primary racial groups, we are now an endangered sub-species. Yet media publicity of racial and cultural extinction is almost always focused upon non-European ethnicities. We Europeans are a racial minority in the world! As a minority group, like any other, we have a natural right to ensure our own cultural and racial survival. Any Multiculturalist who disputes this natural right, for our people to simply survive, is a racist (a real one).

Posted by Krystal1007 | Report as abusive

The same Pew study finds that the muslim population is growing twice as fast as the non-muslim birth rate. And considering the non-muslims include rapidly expanding sub-saharan africa and latin America, the Muslims are far out-pacing Europeans. If somebody is truely multi-cultural – that is, they believe that the world benefits from a plethora of distinct cultures – they should defend European culture from the onslaught of islamic immigration into their countries. If it is OK that European cultures are destroyed by immigrants who don’t assimilate, is it also OK what the Chinese are doing to Tibeten culture, or what the Europeans did to Native-American culture?
The true racists are those who delight in the idea that European culture, though already a small minority in the world, is rapidly shrinking and assimilating with the rest of the world.

Posted by Arminius9 | Report as abusive

Come on. As if PEW would be THE authority. Just some other Facts: The list Mexico as having 111,000 Muslims, while their census states 3,750. Their “research” lists Argentina with more than 1 million Muslims, while Argentinian statistics say 443,000. Brazil has over 200k Muslims in this “research” while the statistics of the census 2000 shows 27k and census 2010 indicates something around 30k. For many countries their figures are too low, e.g. Germany, Austria and the Netherlands as well as Norway and Sweden. How is this a reliable source. I know that it is a completely exaggerated to say France’s Muslims had a fertility rate of over 8. But fact is also, that many regions in France have a Muslim population of over 30%. Fact is, many cities in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands will have a Muslim majority in only a few years, not decades.
Europe will have some kind of Chechnya-like enclaves in the future. And surely the growing number of Muslims will cause civil war. We saw it in Bosnia, Kosovo and other regions. And we will see it again – in our own European neighbourhoods.

Posted by Sampa1974 | Report as abusive

Anyone in the know – knew that it is not about birth rates. The key factor in the rise and rise of Muslim numbers was about immigration.

A study done in Denmark [or other northern European country] followed 1000 Turkish immigrants for a 20 year period. And found that in 20 years their numbers had increased to 20,000. Not because they were having more children – but that each of those children – married a person from the old country, as their parents also did, in what was termed – a fetching marriage – and with the men they found that it was common to marry one person from the old country – divorce and marry again – up to three times.

Likely based on this research or others like it – Denmark banned the fetching marriage practise – back in 2001 or 2002.

[The Danes found that their costs to do with immigration were going up year on year. The measure is a layered restriction on the fetching marriage practise – as a means to bring a new citizen into the country. And the Danes are reporting good results. And somewhat more integrated Muslim communities.]

Very clearly with these numbers on a national scale – they were looking at displacement.

And I sure that those in favour of maintaining the family reunification ‘right’ – never envisioned that it would be used in this way.

In that same study – over the 20 year period it found that there were only 4 marriages with those from the native /or other segments of the population.

These things don’t just happen – there is enormous pressure placed on these young people – in the US, for example, we see a rise in honour crimes, [sometimes attempted murder or murder] most often connected to do with the girl’s refusal to go along with an arranged marriage with someone overseas.

The family’s honour is tied up in the girl’s agreeing [read: being obedient], but the clan member, is given a US passport. It doesn’t look voluntary!

[See the Iraqi man who ran down his daughter with his car – dispute was over an arranged marriage – that the girl was simply not interested in.]

‘She was too western’ should be read as – ‘girl doesn’t want to be forcibly married’!

These and other statistics would likely be overlooked, because they don’t support the Islamophobia argument.


Both Egypt and Turkey’s populations have doubled in the last 40-50 years. This is Islam’s growth. But also may mean we see more riots for bread. A single man can proudly boast 20 children, with a number of wives, but someone has to feed them.

Posted by Euro47 | Report as abusive

revel224: “to show the dastardly Europeans who colonized, plundered, looted, and murdered countless souls and treasures of 3rd world many of them Muslims, what happens when a shoe is on the other foot.”

Revel- you discredit your own statement here when you lump all of “Europe” together, when in fact it was a mere handful of European nations that were largely responsible for what you’re talking about. The British in particular, and the Dutch, French and Belgians to a far lesser extent, did indeed colonise large swathes of the Muslim world. But the vast majority of Europe did not. The Scandinavians, Poles, Czechs, Greeks, Germans, Finns, Hungarians among others had absolutely nothing to do with colonisation of Muslim countries. Quite the opposite, as many of them were victims of corrupt Muslim colonisation thru e.g. the Ottoman Turks, who thrice failed to conquer Vienna and other vast regions.

In fact, the bulk of Europe largely avoided colonisation alltogether and weren’t involved in the dishonour of the slave trade. This is one reason that the Scandinavians and Germans have the most successful economies today- they have a culture that’s never relied on slave labour and thus has become adapted to doing its own manual labour and doing it well, hence their manufacturing prowess.

Ironically, this historical fact also seems to have a correspondence in the levels of Muslim settlement in the European countries that were colonisers. It’s very low in Scandinavia and Germany, which has only about 2 million Muslims (the vast majority of immigrants to Germany are east Europeans, Russians and ethnic Germans from North America, *not* Turks as often believed), somewhat higher in France and the Netherlands (not nearly as high as often claimed), but growing significantly only in Britain, which was indeed the major coloniser in the Muslim world. About 2.5-3 million Muslims reside in the UK, but that number is indeed growing quite quickly due to heavy immigration under both Labour and Tories to provide cheap Labour for businesses, and unlike Continent European countries, Britain has sharia law and courts in many districts as well as Islamic customs predominating there. See Tower Hamlets or Manchester for examples.

So the United Kingdom and England in particular are indeed taking on an increasingly Islamic character, along with a corrupt government whichever major party is leading it with a slavish devotion to the wishes of rich campaign donors (one reason why I and so many other Britons have left). But that’s not true of the rest of Europe. Don’t lump them together so.

Posted by Dandylen | Report as abusive

Well, the PEW statistics have shown to be a total farce and the number in the Eurabia claim is pretty much accurate.

— In 2010 the U.S. Muslim population was 2.6 million. PEW claimed it would double in 20 years. But by 2012 president Obama claimed the U.S. Muslim population had reached 7 million. Hardly the 2% increase projected by Brian Grim but rather more than a 250% increase.

— In 2001 the British government estimated the Muslim population to stand at 1.6 million. By 2012 that population was 3.3 million while it is being claimed that the unofficial number is 5 million. That’s more than a 100% increase, and again nothing as tiny as 2% or shrinking.

Nothing near the Pew statistics. On the contrary, country after country in Europe is getting closer to the Eurabia numbers. Meanwhile, honor murders, Muslim hate crimes against non-Muslims, Muslim violence and rape is just increasing each year.

Posted by Tmss | Report as abusive

@Tmss: Well, the US 7mn figure seems to be exaggerated, but the UK figures indeed show a doubling of the Muslim population over a decade.

Posted by RoHf | Report as abusive

http://www.pewforum.org/2011/01/27/the-f uture-of-the-global-muslim-population/

Globally, the Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population over the next two decades – an average annual growth rate of 1.5% for Muslims, compared with 0.7% for non-Muslims. If current trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4% of the world’s total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4% of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.

Posted by Ballas | Report as abusive

London is already not an English city; about 40% white and 60% immigrants, nearly all from poor third world countries. Europe’s fate is transformation into a third world hell hole, ruled by religious tyrants. It’s sad that so many people died in WW2, when the freedoms they fought for are being thrown in the bin by Marxist politicians hell bent on destroying European cultures.

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