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WETZLAR, Germany – More than 53 million Muslims live in Europe – 14 million of them in the European Union, according to newly released figures.
The Central Institute’s Islam Archives in Soest, Germany, says the number of Muslims in Europe has increased by 800,000 over the last two years, reports the German evangelical news agency IDEA.
The institute’s director, Salim Abdullah, says that among the 25 EU states, France has the highest number of Muslims – 5.5 million – followed by Germany with 3.2 million, the United Kingdom with 1.5 million and Italy with 1 million.
Taking into account the whole continent, Russia has 25 million Muslims and the European part of Turkey 5.9 million. The Muslim population in Germany is mostly made up of Turkish migrants. But the number of Muslims holding a German passport has risen to almost 1 million.
Muslim worship in Germany is on the rise. Approximately 200,000 take part in daily prayers and 493,000 in Friday prayers at mosques and prayer houses – an increase of more than 10 percent over last year’s figures.
Islam in Germany is a “young religion,” according to the institute, which counts 850,000 Muslims as minors. One in five Muslim adolescents worships regularly.
The number of converts to Islam has reached a new high in Germany. According to the institute, more than 1,100 people changed their religion to Islam between 2004 and 2005. Approximately 60 percent of the converts were women. Most converted because they married a Muslim.
But the reverse also is true: More and more Muslims in Germany are becoming Christians. Most are Iranians in exile, who left their country after the Islamic revolution of 1979. Iranian converts estimate that each year approximately 60 Muslims are baptized in Germany.
The institute believes that more than 100,000 Iranian Shiites have converted to the Christian faith since the Islamic revolution. Most live in the United States.