Bernard Lewis: Predicts Western Europe will be majority Muslim by end of century

Historians in the News

Princeton University historian Bernard Lewis, the dean of American Middle East scholars, flatly predicts that Europe will be Muslim by the end of this century.

George Weigel, a leading American theologian, frets about "a Europe in which the muezzin summons the faithful to prayer from the central loggia of St. Peter's in Rome, while Notre Dame has been transformed into Hagia Sophia on the Seine -- a great Christian church" will "become an Islamic museum."
Lewis and Weigel represent a trend among American thinkers who say they fear Europe's doom if it does not re-Christianize, and soon. Most European experts believe those fears are exaggerated.

France, with Europe's largest Muslim population, surely will be a test case.

A church in crisis

Little argument exists about the severity of the crisis facing the Catholic Church in France. In contrast with the vigorous (and masculine) face that French Muslims present to the world, a typical Sunday mass almost anywhere in France will feature an elderly priest preaching to a dwindling congregation of mostly elderly women.

"Mass is boring," said Odon Vallet, a religion professor at the Sorbonne. "The ceremony isn't very beautiful; the music is bad; the sermon is uninteresting. Mass is for people who have nothing else to do on a Sunday -- no sports, no hobbies, no shopping, no entertainment."

Islam is France's fastest-growing religion. But this is mainly a result of immigration patterns, not conversions. Most of the 4.5 million Muslims who make up about 7% of the French population are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants from former French colonies in north Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.

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Juan Antonio Hervada Gim?nez - 8/16/2006

G. Volkovich found a beautiful metaphor for the islamization of Europe in the comet. Beyond the figure of speech though, I feel that we are righ now on the verge of witnessing a fast-growing and powerful trend towards the political solution (well, it's a way to call it) that he mentions. After the last London scare the dvide between Christians and Muslims (Muslims and Others if you prefer) is already beyond repair.

Watch the campaing for the presidential election in France in May 07.

J.A. Hervada-Giménez, Paris

Gabriel Volkovich - 8/9/2006

Ignoring facts never helped anybody. The forecast that muslims will outnumber Europeans in European countries is as predictable and inevitable as arrival of a known comet with known trajectory, unless: 1.A dramatic decline in European Muslim birth rate takes place
2. Those Muslims who are already in Europe start going back to their native countries, and
3. The Muslims who stay in Europe become secular.
The probability of all 3 conditions taking place is infinitely small and can be counted as practical zero!

The more likely scenario is that native Europeans will start feeling threat to their freedoms and lifestyle from Muslim majority imposing Islamic norms of Sharia on Europena societies and dragging them back to medieval norms. That will lead to creation of anti-Muslim radical parties with very aggressive agenda to drive Muslims out of at least some European countries if not from the whole of Europe. The clash with Muslim majority or a large but agressive minority will be a bloody and defining confrontation of the 21st century. The only alternative is a complete capitulation of Europeans to the Islamic onslaught and domination.

John Edward Philips - 7/6/2006

This sounds like a typical case of assuming that present trends will continue indefinitely into the future.

I remember back in the 1980s alarmists were predicting that AIDS would wipe out the entire American population. Sure, had the rate of HIV infections kept doubling, it would have. But present conditions never continue indefinitely unchanged.