Muslim population in France

Muslims gather in the Grande Mosquee in Strasbourg Image copyright Getty Images

In the wake of the Paris terror attacks there has been a spate of commentary about the position of Muslims in French society.

Here are some basic facts and figures on the Muslim population in France, courtesy of a study published by the Brookings Institution. You can read the full report here.

France has approximately five million residents of Muslim descent.

As much as half of the Muslim population is believed to be under 24 years of age.

Concrete data is hard to find, as the French Republic considers ethnic and religious affiliation a private matter.

Muslims in France hail from a large number of countries, although most came from North Africa, mainly Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia (known as the Maghreb).

The first Muslims came to France centuries ago - but the greatest number of Muslims came to France in the contemporary era, in the wake of the colonial wars of independence (1954 - 1962).

The major Muslim population centres in France are Paris, Marseille, and Lyon and their outlying suburbs (banlieues).

Of the approximately 15 million Muslims who currently live in the European Union, France is home to the largest number, equal to around one third of the total.

Germany follows with 3.3 million, Britain with 1.6 million, and Italy and the Netherlands with as many as 1 million each.

The Brookings Institution study, Being Muslim in France, has a range of fascinating detail on employment rates, housing and education.

It is well worth a read.

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