Head count belies vision of ‘Eurabia’

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”.

Most academics who have analysed the demographics dismiss such predictions. Jytte Klausen, a professor of politics at Brandeis University who studies European Muslims, says: “It’s being advocated by people who don’t consult the numbers. All these claims are really emotional claims.”

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.

Financial Times, 20 August 2007