French people are the most likely to hold misconceptions about the current and predicted Muslim population in their country, according to a study by Ipsos Mori published on Wednesday.
French people reckoned that 31 percent of the population was Muslim, when the real figure according to Pew research in 2010 was 7.5 percent.
Among the 40 countries polled, respondents in South Africa, the Philippines, and Italy also wildly overestimated the Muslim population.
Graph 1: What percentage of this country do you think is Muslim?
French respondents also predicted that 40 percent of the population will be Muslim by 2020, but the same researchers predict the current number will rise to 8.3 percent (see graph below).
French sociologist and expert on Islam, Professor Raphaël Liogier, said the study made for concerning reading.
Bobby Duffy, Managing Director of Ipsos Public Affairs, said it was a widespread trend that people “over-estimated what they worried about”.
“We are often more incorrect on factors that are widely discussed in the media, such as the proportion of our population that are Muslims and wealth inequality,” he said in a statement.
The survey also asked people about their country’s views on issues like homosexuality and abortion, and how much they thought the government spends on healthcare every year.
Ipsos said that nearly all countries overestimate their Muslim population, and many are “extraordinarily wrong”.
By Charlotte Mason