The perception that Muslim populations are larger than they really are is widespread in Europe, according to an analysis last year from Ipsos Mori.

The average French citizen thought 31% of France’s population was Muslim against the recorded 8%, Germans thought theirs was 19% against 6%, and in the UK the figures were 21% and 5%.

Misconceptions about minority populations stand in the way of a more informed debate on migration at a volatile time. As Giles Merritt, head of the Brussels-based think tank Friends of Europe, writes, “Last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris are likely to compound Europe’s deep divisions over how to respond to its refugee and migrant crisis.”

 

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Germany and France have the biggest Muslim populations among European Union countries with more than 4.7 million apiece, while the UK comes third with just under three million, according to Pew Research.

As a proportion of the population, France comes third among EU nations with 7.5% of citizens classified as Muslim. Cyprus leads with 25.3% followed by Bulgaria at 13.7%.  The Pew research suggests the EU’s Muslim population is expected to reach French levels of around 8% by 2030:

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Author: Donald Armbrecht is a freelance writer and social media producer. 

Image: An elderly lady in a wheelchair passes Dutch Children of Moroccan descent while shopping in the Javastraat in the multicultural area called the Indische Buurt in Amsterdam. REUTERS/Guus Dubbelman