Of late, it has frequently been suggested that France–and increasingly, not only France but western Europe as a whole–is heading for a Muslim majority. No longer will France be plausibly described as the “eldest daughter” of the Catholic Church; no longer will Luther’s church have any sway in his homeland; no longer will local Christianities mark the daily lives of people in Spain and Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden. Instead of church towers, we will have minarets. Instead of the code napoléon, we will have the shari’a. Instead of women sunning themselves on Mediterranean beaches and same-sex marriage in the Low Countries, we’ll have women forced to wear burqas and gays once again closeted. The past centuries of social liberalization in Europe will be brutally reversed, as Europe enters a new dark age. (But particularly France, since it has too many Muslims to be saved.)
He points out how this is entirely wrong. Highlights:
70% of French Muslims don’t got to mosques.
French Muslim birth rates are dropping.
Figures of eight million French Muslims are regularly tossed around, based, it seems, on panicked fears of high Muslim immigration and a high Muslim birth rate. These figures are vastly overestimated, though. Figures on religious affiliation and ethnic background aren’t kept by the French government, as part of a long-standing reaction against the misuse of those figures by Vichy to deport immigrant Jews to the concentration camps. The suggestions of The Economist that there are a bit over four million French Muslims seem to be more sensible and generally accepted. This amounts to roughly 7% of the French population–a significant number, to be sure, but not an overwhelming majority.
If this minority population grew for the next 50 years at a rate of 2% per annum (a high rate, and one that doesn’t seem to be supported by signs of an ongoing demographic transition), while the remainder of the population shrunk at a rate of 0.5% per annum (also a high rate of decrease, and one that doesn’t seem likely to be achieved for a while given generally high French fertility rates), at the end of this 50 year period the total French population would have shrunk by 9%, and France’s Muslim population would amount to roughly one-fifth of the total. You’d have to wait for a century to approach a position of parity between the two populations, assuming the same unrealistic growth rates. This is definitely not any sort of imminent threat, nor as I shall demonstrate is it a very plausible threat at all.