How the number of Muslims in Spain is far lower than people think

Fiona Govan
Fiona Govan - [email protected]
How the number of Muslims in Spain is far lower than people think
Muslims walk past Cordoba's 'Mezquita'. Photo:AFP

Spaniards massively overestimate the size of Spain’s Muslim population believing it to be seven times greater than it actually is, according to a new survey.


The Ipsos Mori survey "Perils of Perception" published on Wednesday reveals that Spanish people believe around 14 percent of the 47 million residents in Spain are Muslim, when in fact, the real figure is just 2.1 percent.

Spanish respondents also predicted that 21 percent of the population will be Muslim by 2020, but the same researchers predict the current number will rise to 3.3 percent (see graph below).

The survey revealed that the French were the most likely most likely to hold misconceptions about the Muslim population in their country. The survey showed that  French people reckoned that 31 percent of the population was Muslim, when the real figure was 7.5 percent.

Meanwhile in Germany, which has seen a huge influx of refugees over the last year, people overestimate the number of Muslims four times over. The survey showed Germans believed Muslims make up 21 percent of the population - roughly 16 percentage points higher than the reality.

But when it comes to Spain, the figures cited in the survey prove to be flawed. The statistics used by researchers date from a report from the Pew Research Center, pubished in 2010.

Infact, by the end of 2015, the number of Muslims resident in Spain numbered 1.887.906 according to the Islamic Commission of Spain, representing 4 percent of the population. 

The data revealed that 41 percent of the Muslims in Spain are of Spanish nationality while 59 percent were immigrants.  Of all Muslims in Spain, 40 percent hold Moroccan passports and 19 percent were from other countries, with the second largest group from Pakistan, followed by Senegal.

Last year Spain agreed to take 15,000 refugees from overwhelmed Greece and Italy under an EU distribution plan, but has so far only welcomed around 800 and is routinely criticised by human rights groups of its treatment of migrants and asylum seekers. 

In a recent survey by Amnesty, Spaniards proved to be the most accepting of refugees.

An astounding 97 percent of Spanish respondents said that yes, they would "personally accept people fleeing war or persecution" into their country, according to a survey by Amnesty International.


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