An alarming Youtube video that has received more than ten million views is stirring up anxieties about the Islamification of Europe, but as this report shows much of its data appears to have been fabricated.
Muslim Demographics makes some unsettling predictions about Europe's future, including that the continent will have an Islamic majority in a few decades. It bases its forecast on declining indigenous fertility rates, offset against the alleged Muslim average of 8.1 children per family.
"In a matter of years, Europe as we know it will cease to exist," an ominous sounding American speaker declares on the seven-and-a-half minute long Youtube hit, talking over Terminator-style doomsday beats.
The central premise of the video is that declining birth rates among indigenous Europeans are putting the future of Western civilisations at risk.
It notes that across all the countries in the EU, the average fertility rate is a mere 1.38 children per family – well below the minimum of 2.11 that is required to keep population levels stable over time.
Data from the CIA World Factbook confirms that the majority of these figures are accurate. "Yet the population of Europe is not declining," the speaker sourly notes, with the continent's Muslim population doubling since 1980 and set to double yet again – to 104 million – in the next 20 years.
In a nutshell, the video warns that Islam is taking over. And with ten million hits to date, it appears to have struck a chord with many viewers.
Supporters argue that Muslim Demographics tackles the uncomfortable realities facing Europe. But as this country-by-country breakdown shows, the video is littered with statistical errors and spurious inferences.
In the UK, we are told, the Muslim population has risen from 82,000 to 2.5 million over just 30 years. Britain's 2001 census makes this seem plausible, recording 1.59 million Muslims – but previous censuses did not ask about religion, and no sources is given for the earlier figure of 82,000.
What the 1981 census did do is record ethnicity. And according to Dr Andrew Hinde, a demographer at Southampton University, it tallied somewhere in the region of 300,000 people from Pakistan and Bangladesh alone. Both countries are majority Muslim (96% and 88% respectively), which makes the figure of 82,000 a gross underestimate. The growth rate of Muslims in Britain is therefore significantly slower than the video suggests.
Another startling claim made in Muslim Demographics is that French Muslim families have a birth rate of 8.1 children, as compared with the national average of 1.8. Again, no source is provided for the data.
What we can verify, however, is that the country with the highest fertility rate in the world is Niger, where 7.75 children are born for every woman. This means that for the data in the video to be accurate, French Muslim women must be churning out babies at a faster rate than anywhere else on the planet. The two countries with which most Muslim immigrants to France have ties – Algeria and Morocco – have fertility rates of just 1.79 and 2.51.
A particularly revealing moment occurs when the speaker declares: "In just 39 years, France will be an Islamic Republic." What he means, of course, is that it will be a Muslim-dominated society. No attempt is made to clarify the difference between that and the political construct.
While talking about the rate of Muslim immigration to various European countries, the speaker states that there are now 23 million Muslims in Russia. But what he fails to note is that the former Soviet state includes republics such as Ingushetia and Chechnya, whose indigenous people converted to Islam as far back as the 15th century after warring with the Ottoman Empire.
Alongside the questionable statistics, the video also quotes a senior German politician, Walter Radermacher, former vice-president of the Federal Statistics Office, as saying that Germany in on-track to become a Muslim nation.
"The fall in the [German] population can no longer be stopped. Its downward spiral is no longer reversible," reads the uncontested part of Mr Radermacher's transcript. But the video controversially goes on to claim that the senior politician said Germany "will be a Muslim state by the year 2050".
Mr Radermacher denies ever making that claim. He told the BBC the quotation is "simply not true," adding: "There is no source which can be quoted that the German government has published such an expression or opinion."
Immigration and population decline are serious issues which affect the majority of European countries – a reality that was driven home this year by the rise of far-right, ultra-nationalist parties at EU elections.
The debate over these crucial topics must be conducted in an environment free from sensationalism and deliberate misinformation.