According to new research church attendance has been falling all across Western Europe. In Great Britain, for example, only 6.3 percent of the population attends Christian services on a weekly basis. The group also projects that around 4,000 churches will close over the next 15 years. However while church attendance is on the decline, religious participation among Muslims has increased dramatically. According to the study, even though Muslims only comprise around three percent of the British population, in 35 years there will be twice as many Muslims in mosques on Friday as there are Christians in churches on Sunday. This trend can be seen throughout Europe. In France there are now more than 4,000 mosques, and new mosques and Muslim prayer centers have been popping up at an alarming rate. Meanwhile, it has been projected that Muslims will be the majority population in Germany by 2046.
Islam is quickly becoming a significant part of the cultural and political landscape of Europe. There are between 9 and 15 million Muslims living throughout Europe today, and Islam has become the largest religious minority. Considering current population trends and the need for immigrant labor it is likely that the number of Muslims in Europe will continue to grow exponentially. The Muslim birth rate in Europe is three times higher than the non-Muslim one. If current trends continue, the Muslim population of Europe will nearly double by 2015, while the non-Muslim population will shrink by 3.5 percent. Bernard Lewis, a former history professor at Princeton and the respected author of more than a dozen books on the Middle East, is quoted as saying that "Europe will be Islamic by the end of the century."
Russia has also experienced difficulty integrating its growing Muslim population. Growing ethnic tensions in the former Soviet Union have begun to mirror those of its European neighbors. The Muslim population in Russia is growing by leaps and bounds. Rising immigration and low birthrates among ethnic Russians have contributed to this trend. Russia's Muslim population has increased by 40 percent since 1989, to about 25 million. By 2015, Muslims will make up a majority of Russia's conscript army, and by 2020 they will constitute one-fifth of the population. Fifteen years ago, Russia had about 300 mosques, today there are approximately 8,000. Experts say that if current trends continue, nearly one third of Russia's population will be Muslim by the mid-century.
Recently the Population Research Institute conducted a study on birth rates around the world. It concluded that the Western world is facing a crisis. Virtually every country in the Western World has birth rates well below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman. The study also revealed that, for the most part, only Muslims have high birth rates. A spokesman for the organization said that if this trend continues "Muslims are going to inherit the Earth."
Islam is becoming an increasingly volatile catalyst in today's international scene. Islam is one of the world's fastest growing religions, and it is second in size only to Christianity. If you want more information on the origin and nature of Islam, listen to our briefing titled The Sword of Allah. See the links below for more information.
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