With refugees, German Muslim minority could be Europe's largest


With refugees, German Muslim minority could be Europes largest

Berlin - Germany until now has been dominated by the Turks who first came as so-called "guest workers" in the 1960s.

By Reuters

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Published: Tue 22 Sep 2015, 4:03 PM

Last updated: Tue 22 Sep 2015, 6:14 PM

When the flood of Middle Eastern refugees arriving in Europe finally ebbs and asylum-seekers settle down in their new homes, Germany could unexpectedly find itself housing the continent's largest Muslim minority.
The arrival of so many Syrians fleeing their country's brutal civil war is bound to change the face of Germany, which until now has been dominated by the Turks who first came as so-called "guest workers" in the 1960s.
While refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq and other Muslim countries are also arriving, the Syrians make up the largest single contingent - estimated at about 45 per cent - and have the best chances of being granted political asylum here.
The longer-term impact on Germany, which unlike Britain or France has no tradition of taking in immigrants from former colonies, is unclear. Many are still struggling through problems all refugees face such as learning the language and getting a job. The number of those yet to follow them is also unknown.
Some trends are emerging, though, and Germans familiar with the Muslim minority see reasons for both hope and concern. The first change is simply in the numbers.
"We could suddenly have five million Muslims," said Thomas Volk, an Islam expert at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a think tank associated with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party.
France now has Europe's largest Muslim minority with five million, followed by Germany with about four million. But the French figure is an estimate several experts say is too high.
Germany expects 800,000 refugees this year, most of them Muslims, and "this trend will continue," Volk told Reuters. "It will not stop abruptly on Jan. 1, 2016."
In addition, most are young adult men, so the numbers will rise further when those who settle here start families.

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