Muslims made up nearly five percent of Europe’s population in 2016, nearly 26 million people across thirty countries. According to a report, “Europe’s Growing Muslim Population,” which was published by Pew Research Center, a relatively small share of the migrants coming to Europe were refugees fleeing violence or persecution. Most were coming for other reasons.
“A large number of people will still be coming, seeking a better living condition, not anymore escaping from war and having seen that western and Europeans are very welcoming, they would still seek to relocate in Europe, rather than to stay in their country of origin,” Picchi said.
“People coming from less developed countries still rely a lot on a large number of children because the survivor rate is much lower and from a cultural point of view the larger the family is the better it is. This is right for the Muslim culture and Muslim community so there is a threat there,” the vice-chairman said.
He explained that the large number of children could have a strong impact on the European social security and welfare system.
“There are lots of problems that we have seen throughout Europe, not only in my own country Italy where there is an issue with the Muslim community, who are unfortunately not very willing to integrate themselves with the rest of the population. They tend to live apart in sanctuary cities, so they are really apart from the rest,” Picchi said.
Talking about the growing xenophobia with the increasing Muslim population, the specialist said that if there is no program to integrate them with the local population then it can result in a distorted relationship within the community.
“We should do our best to prevent this and one way is to increase the level of integration of the newcomers, so the rule is simple either you accept our identity, our culture, our history or go back to your country. It’s not that we have to redefine our history or our identity just because you are the newcomer,” Picchi said.
He further added that in the western part of Europe the identity issue is higher because the migrants prefer to come to the western part rather than going to the eastern part of Europe.