General features of Islamization of Europe

UDK 297.17(4)



K. Parkhomej – Student of Country Studies and International Relations Department International Relations Faculty Lesya Ukrainka Eastern European National University




The work is done at the Department of Country Studies and International Relations Scientific supervisor Y. Vozniuk Candidate of Political Sciences, Associated Professor of the Department of Country Studies and International Relations

General features of Islamization of Europe are defined and characterized. Different demographic tendencies are deeply analyzed. Data concerning characteristic features of changes in amount of Christians and Muslim in the Europe are presented. The assessment to the islamization process is given.

Key words: islamization, Europe, Muslim population, demography.

К. В. Пархомей. Загальні риси ісламізації Європи. Розглядаються загальні риси процесу ісламізації в Європі. Аналізуються демографічні тенденції зростання населення, що сповідує іслам в Європейському регіоні. Наводяться дані, щодо характерних особливостей змін у співвідношенні християнського та мусульманського населення, а також оцінка процесу ісламізації у різних країнах Європи.

Ключові слова: ісламізація, Європа, мусульманcьке населення, демографія.

Recent killings in Paris as well as the arrival of hundreds of thousands of mostly Muslim refugees in Europe have drawn renewed attention to the continent’s Muslim population. In many European countries, including France, Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, concerns about growing Muslim communities have led to calls for restrictions on immigration.

Using the Pew Research Center’s most recent population estimates, here are five facts about the size and makeup of the Muslim population in Europe [5, p. 147]:

  1. 1. Germany and France have the largest Muslim populations among European Union member countries. As of 2010, there were 4,8 million Muslims in Germany (5,8 % of the country’s population) and 4,7 million Muslims in France (7,5 %). In Europe overall, however, Russia’s population of 14 million Muslims (10%) is the largest on the continent.
  2. 2. The Muslim share of Europe’s total population has been increasing steadily. In recent decades, the Muslim share of the population throughout Europe grew about 1 percentage point a decade, from 4 % in 1990 to 6 % in 2010. This pattern is expected to continue through 2030, when Muslims are projected to make up 8 % of Europe’s population.
  3. 3. Muslims are younger than other Europeans. In 2010, the median age of Muslims throughout Europe was 32, eight years younger than the median for all Europeans (40). By contrast, the median age of religiously unaffiliated people in Europe, including atheists, agnostics and those with no religion in particular, was 37. The median age of European Christians was 42.
  4. 4. Views of Muslims vary widely across European countries. A Pew Research Center survey conducted this spring in 10 nations found that in eastern and southern Europe, negative views prevailed. However, the majority of respondents in the UK, Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands gave Muslims a favorable rating. Views about Muslims are tied to ideology. While 47 % of Germans on the political right give Muslims an unfavorable rating, just 17% on the left do so. The gap between left and right is also roughly 30 percentage points in Italy and Greece.
  5. 5. As of 2010, the European Union was home to about 13 million Muslim immigrants. The foreign-born Muslim population in Germany is primarily made up of Turkish immigrants, but also includes many born in Kosovo, Iraq, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Morocco. The roughly 3 million foreign-born Muslims in France are largely from France’s former colonies of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia [5, р. 18].

The number of Muslims in Europe has grown from 29,6 million in 1990 to 44,1 million in 2010. Europe’s Muslim population is projected to exceed 58 million by 2030 (tab. 1). Muslims today account for about 6 % of Europe’s total population, up from 4,1 % in 1990. By 2030, Muslims are expected to make up 8 % of Europe’s population. Although Europe’s Muslim population is growing, Europe’s share of the global Muslim population will remain quite small. Less than 3 % of the world’s Muslims are expected to be living in Europe in 2030, about the same portion as in 2010 (2,7 %) [4, p. 36].

Most European Muslims will continue to live in Eastern Europe, but some of the biggest increases in Europe’s Muslim population in absolute numbers over the next 20 years are expected to occur in the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany and other countries in Western, Northern and Southern Europe (tab. 1, pic 1).

Table 1

European States with the biggest share of Muslim population as for 2015


The amount of Muslim population The percentage of Muslim population in the state The ratio of World Muslim population
Russia 16 482 000 11,7 1,0
Germany 4 026 000 ̴ 5 <1
France 3 554 000 ̴ 6 <1
Albania 2 522 000 79,9 0,2
Great Britain 1 647 000 2,7 0,1
Bosnia and Hercegovina 1 522 000 ̴ 40 <1
The Netherlands 946 000 5,7 0,1
Bulgaria 920 000 12,2 0,1
Macedonia 680 000 33,3 <0,1
Others 3 814 000 1,1 0,2
General in the region 38  112000 5,2 2,4
In the world 1 571 198 000 22,9 100,0

Pic. 1. The amount of Muslim population

Western Europe, which includes France, Germany and the Netherlands, is expected to have the biggest numerical increase in the size of its Muslim population. The number of Muslims living in this part of Europe is projected to increase by 5,1 million, from 11,3 million in 2010 to 16,4 million in 2030 (tab. 2, pic. 2)). The Muslim share of Western Europe’s total population is expected to increase from 6,0 % in 2010 to 8,6 % in 2030.

The number of Muslims living in Northern Europe, which includes the United Kingdom, is expected to increase from 3,8 million in 2010 to 7,5 million in 2030. Muslims are expected to make up 7,0 % of Northern Europe’s population, up from 3,8 % in 2010.

Table 2

Estimated number of Muslims, 1990‒2030


1990 Percent Increase 

1990–2010, %

2010 Percent Increase

2010–2030, %



Europe 29 650 000 48,9 44 138 000 31,9 58 209 000
Eastern Europe 15 602 000 17,8 18 376 000 11,9 20 566 000
Northern Europe 1 526 000 147,9 3 783 000 97,5 7 473 000
Southern Europe 8 525 000 25,3 10 682 000 28,9 13 771 000
Western Europe 3 997 000* 182,7 11 297 000 45,2 16 398 000

* Population estimates are rounded to thousands.


Pic. 2. Estimated number of Muslims, 1990–2030

The number of Muslims in Southern Europe – which includes Balkan countries such as Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, as well as Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain – is projected to increase by 3,1 million, from 10,7 million in 2010 to 13,8 million in 2030. Southern Europe as a whole has a higher proportion of Muslims than Eastern Europe; 6,9 % of the population in Southern Europe today is Muslim, compared with 6,2 % of the population in Eastern Europe. By 2030, 8,8 % of people living in Southern Europe are expected to be Muslim, compared with 7,6 % of the population in Eastern Europe.

Most of the growth in Eastern Europe’s Muslim population during the decades studied occurred from 1990 to 2000, when the percentage of Muslims in the population jumped from 4, 9 % to 6,2 %. This increase followed the collapse of communism, when religious identity and expression became more acceptable throughout Eastern Europe. The total number of Muslims in Eastern Europe is expected to increase from 18,4 million in 2010 to 20,6 million in 2030 [5, р. 150].

While many Muslims living in Western and Northern Europe are relatively recent immigrants (or the children or grandchildren of immigrants), most of those in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe belong to populations that are centuries old. Nevertheless, immigration continues to be a factor in the growth of Eastern Europe’s Muslim population, especially as Muslims continue to move from former Soviet republics to Russia in search of economic opportunities.

Muslims in the eastern parts of Southern Europe, including Albania and Kosovo, tend to belong to long-established Muslim communities, while Muslims in the rest of Southern Europe, stretching from Italy to Portugal, tend to be more recent immigrants.

An average of 55 per cent of people across the 10 European countries surveyed wanted to stop all future immigration from mainly Muslim countries [1, p. 45].

A ban was supported by 71 per cent of people in Poland, 65 per cent in Austria, 53 per cent in Germany and 51 per cent in Italy. In the UK, 47 per cent supported a ban. In no country did more than 32 per cent disagree with a ban [3, p. 33].

Globally, Muslims have the highest fertility rate, an average of 3,1 children per woman – well above replacement level (2,1), the minimum typically needed to maintain a stable population.6 Christians are second, at 2.7 children per woman.

In addition to fertility rates and age distributions, religious switching is likely to play a role in the growth of religious groups. But conversion patterns are complex and varied. In some countries, it is fairly common for adults to leave their childhood religion and switch to another faith. In others, changes in religious identity are rare, legally cumbersome or even illegal.

International migration is another factor that will influence the projected size of religious groups in various regions and countries. Forecasting future migration patterns is difficult, because migration is often linked to government policies and international events that can change quickly. For this reason, many population projections do not include migration in their models [6, р. 1].

In Europe, for instance, the Muslim share of the population is expected to increase from 5,9 % in 2010 to 10,2 % in 2050 when migration is taken into account along with other demographic factors that are driving population change, such as fertility rates and age. Without migration, the Muslim share of Europe’s population in 2050 is projected to be nearly two percentage points lower (8.4 %) [2, р. 37].

Europe is the only region where the total population is projected to decline. Europe’s Christian population is expected to shrink by about 100 million people in the coming decades, dropping from 553 million to 454 million. While Christians will remain the largest religious group in Europe, they are projected to drop from three-quarters of the population to less than two-thirds. By 2050, nearly a quarter of Europeans (23 %) are expected to have no religious affiliation, and Muslims will make up about 10 % of the region’s population

By contrast, net inflows of migrants are expected to have a substantial impact on the religious makeup of many countries in Europe, North America and the Middle East-North Africa region. For example, a net inflow of 1 million Muslims is projected to occur in Europe between 2010 and 2015. Smaller numerical gains from migration also are projected in Europe for both Buddhists and Hindus [5, р. 6].

The main projections in this report indicate that the share of Muslims in Europe’s population will nearly double between 2010 and 2050, from about 5,9 % to 10,2 %. A variety of factors, including higher birth rates and a bulging youth population among Muslims in Europe, underlie this expected increase. But immigration also plays a role. The projected share of Muslims in Europe in 2050 is nearly two percentage points higher than in the alternative scenario with no new migration. Indeed, about half (53%) of the projected growth of Europe’s Muslim population can be attributed to new migration.

 Sources and literature

  1. Авдєєва С. Модернізація мусульманського світу : західний і східний дискурс / А. Авдєєва // Політика і час. – 2007. – № 5. – С. 50–54.
  2. Долгополова С. Европа в объятиях ислама / С. Долгополова // География терроризма. – 2013. – 19 дек. [Электронный ресурс] – Режим доступа :
  3. Коцюруба К. О. Ісламський виклик європейській системі безпеки / К. О. Коцюруба // Проблеми міжнародних відносин. – 2013. – Вип. 7. – C. 94–107.
  4. Оришев А.Б. Численность мусульман в Европе : прогнозы экспертов / А. Б. Оришев // Международный журнал прикладных и фундаментальных исследований. – 2015. – № 3 (ч. 1). – С. 106–109 [Электронный ресурс] – Режим доступа : (дата обращения: 09.03.2017).
  5. The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010‒2050 // Pew Research Center [Електронний ресурс]. – Режим доступу :
  6. Duke Selwyn. Islam Is Taking Over Europe ‒ «Without Swords, Without Guns, Without Conquest» / Selwyn Duke // Observer [Електронний ресурс]. – Режим доступу :

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