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A Spanish candidate lies about the number of French Muslims by 2050

Migration
Fact-check

Newtral, Spain

17 April 2019, Updated: 19 May 2019

Santiago Abascal, from the Spanish far-right party Vox, claimed that half of the French population would be muslim by 2050. This is absolutely FALSE. The Pew Research Center estimates that- at most- 18% of the French population will be Muslim in 2050.

Santiago Abascal was interviewed on ANTENA3’s Espejo Público last Monday 8th April. When asked about immigration in Spain, the Vox leader explained that he did not want migration levels to reach those of France or Germany. For Abascal, the rise in immigration could cause a rise in the Muslim population: “It’s going to happen in France with the current demographic, 50% of the population will be Muslim from 2050”.

This is FALSE. The Pew Research Center estimates that- at most- 18% of the French population will be Muslim in 2050.

The Pew Research Center predicts that the evolution of the Muslim population in France takes into account both fertility rates within French Muslim communities and predicted immigration statistics.

The PRC report explains that, were immigration rates to be elevated, the Muslim population in France would only represent as much as 18% by 2050.

The rise in the European Islamic population is a topic that the Pew Research Center, a Washington-based think tank, has been publishing studies on in recent years. The latest data released by their research centre – one of the most prestigious in the world – announced that, given that the Muslim population was 4.6% in 2016, the figures would amount to between 11 and 14% by 2050. One needs to take into account that the Muslim population includes, as the report says, “Muslims born in Europe and those born in a wide variety of countries outside of Europe”, that is to say, this data analyses religion and not nationality.

Although immigration is an important factor in formulating these studies, the principal reason for the growth in the European Muslim population between 2010 and 2016 was the birth rate within Muslim families (without even taking into account whether the newly born children will stay within Islam). Immigration is, rather, the second factor that causes this rise. The study also takes into account those who have changed religion (to another or to none): from 2010 to 2016 the number of European Muslims fell by 160,000 in this sense.

The Pew Research Center predicts that, in 2050, 18% (at most) of the French population will be Muslim. The study forecasts three possible scenarios (also counting future births): If immigration suddenly stopped, Muslims would represent 12.7% of the total; if it continued at a moderate rate, the figure would be 17.4% while it would come to 18% if migration levels were higher. In the latter situation, the Muslim population would make up, in 2050, around three times the current proportion of the population. They would, however, still be far off the numbers of the Christian population and those of no religion, according to the study, which has been reported on in various news outlets in Spain and France, such as Les Échos and La Dépêche.

Newtral have asked Vox for information on the source of Santiago Abascal’s figures though they have not received an answer.

Translation by Alban Mills/ Vox Europ

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