Bruno Waterfield, London Telegraph (London), August 13, 2009
Information collected by the country’s social security agency has found that traditional Dutch names have been displaced in the urban centres of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht as the country’s Muslim population grows.
In The Hague variations of the name Mohammed have taken first, second and fifth place in the Dutch capital’s league table of most popular names for boys, replacing traditional favourites such as Jan, Luuk, Gijs or Daan.
At a national level the name Mohammed is now the 16th most popular name for boys.
The figures, obtained by the Dutch Elsevier magazine, from the Dutch Social Insurance Bank, or Sociale Verzekeringsbank (SVB), are different from the official statistics which have in the past counted various spellings of Mohammed, Muhamed, or Muhammad as different names.
Previous government name counts, separating the different versions, have avoided controversy by keeping the name of Islam’s founder outside the Dutch top 20 of favourite names for baby boys.
Geert Wilders, leader of the far-Right, anti-Islam Freedom Party, which is currently leading the Dutch opinion polls, has demanded a government investigation following the Daily Telegraph’s Aug 8 report that over a fifth of the European Union’s population has been forecast to be Muslim by 2050.
Dutch cabinet ministers will on Friday discuss 79 parliamentary questions tabled by his Freedom Party concerning levels of “non-Western immigration” and its impact on Dutch society.
Official statistics show that European societies are being transformed by immigration and demographic trends. In 2008 just five per cent of the EU’s total population was Muslim. But low birth rates among Europe’s indigenous population and rising immigration are having rapid and widespread effects on the population mix.
Recent studies have indicated that fears over the radicalisation of young Muslims have been exaggerated however. Nonetheless the changing population poses policy questions in a range of areas from education and housing to the arts and foreign affairs.