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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09HELSINKI239
2009-06-24 10:42:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Helsinki
Cable title:  

FINLAND: MUSLIM POPULATION AND DEMOGRAPHICS

Tags:   PINR  KISL  KPLS  FI  PHUM  PGOV 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO7680
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSL RUEHSR RUEHVK
RUEHYG
DE RUEHHE #0239/01 1751042
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241042Z JUN 09
FM AMEMBASSY HELSINKI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5030
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HELSINKI 000239 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

EUR/NB FOR MIGUEL RODRIGUES AND EUR/FO/FARAH PANDITH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PINR KISL KPLS FI PHUM PGOV
SUBJECT: FINLAND: MUSLIM POPULATION AND DEMOGRAPHICS

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HELSINKI 000239

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

EUR/NB FOR MIGUEL RODRIGUES AND EUR/FO/FARAH PANDITH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PINR KISL KPLS FI PHUM PGOV
SUBJECT: FINLAND: MUSLIM POPULATION AND DEMOGRAPHICS


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Over the last two decades, Finland has
experienced significant growth in its Muslim population,
albeit based on smaller numbers than other European
countries. In the last decade, the growth occurred mainly
due to refugee acceptance programs. Analyzing that growth
proves challenging as the Government of Finland (GoF)
collects limited official data on origin and ethnicity per se
- especially once a resident obtains Finnish citizenship.
From an estimated population historically quoted around 1,000
in 1990, Post estimates a population at year-end 2007 of
around 40,000 based on statistics available for both mother
tongue and resident country of origin and birth, with
adjustments. That population reportedly has risen rapidly
since 2008, at the same time national polls now show a drop
in support for immigration. One of the GoF's goals for the
second half of its term is to focus more on immigration
policy - integration, education and employment. END SUMMARY.

ESTIMATING POPULATION
--------------


2. (SBU) Estimating the Muslim population proves difficult,
as the GoF collects limited ethnic data before a resident
gains Finnish citizenship and ceases tracking ethnicity after
citizenship. It collects religious-affiliation data, but it
appears few Muslims participate in the voluntary registration
system. Fewer than 6000 Muslims have registered; GoF
officials have told EmbOffs that most of the largest Muslim
immigrant group, Somalis, practice but do not register, so
that figure is clearly far too low. Examining estimates from
various sources indicates a growth in population from a low
of 1,000 in 1990 to approximately 40,000 in 2008:

--1990 (Academy of Finland
www.helsinki.fi/teol/uskt/musref/into.html) 1,000
--1999 (Academy of Finland
www.helsinki.fi/teol/uskt/musref/intro.html) 15,000 to 20,000
--2005 September 12, (Helsingin Sanomat newspaper
www.helsinginsanomat.fi/english) cited 30,000 Muslims in
Finland, the largest group comprised of Somalis.
--2007 December 4-5 (OSCE Report) cited 40,000 Muslims living

in Finland with most holding citizenship, but did not
footnote the citation.


3. (SBU) Published population estimates vary and appear
mostly drawn from the range contained in the CIA World
Factbook, 20,000 to 40,000 (as of July 2005). The cited
Factbook estimate broadly tracks with GoF figures based on
residents' country of origin by birth and nationality (see
paragraph 10), estimating approximately 20,000 by Country of
Citizenship and 46,000 by Country of Birth. (NOTE: Such
figures are subject to additional uncertainties, e.g.,
estimates would be subject to adjustment based on percentage
of Muslims in countries of birth/origin, and GoF estimates
did not include figures from countries with a Muslim
population under 2 per cent. Also, the dissolution of
Yugoslavia and the U.S.S.R. creates differences between birth
and nationality countries. END NOTE.)


4. (SBU) Aside from country of birth and nationality, the
GoF also collects information regarding the mother tongue for
those residents who have not yet changed their "official
tongue" to Finnish (see paragraph 9). Totaling the
(self-selected) languages with a high Islamic bias, spoken in
areas with an estimated 70 to 100 percent Muslim population
results in 37,475 for 2006 and 39,586 for 2007.

APPROXIMATELY 40,000 MUSLIMS IN FINLAND
--------------


5. (SBU) One might accept the broad range of 20,000 to
46,000, or one might seek a single figure. In arriving at a
single figure, post believes that a reasonable source is
mother tongue data, taking into account factors supporting
adjustments up and down. Additions would include the number
of Tatars, the native Finnish Muslim minority, which the GoF
estimates to be 800. The higher birth rate among immigrant
populations might suggest further addition. Counted against
that would be an unknown number of non-Muslims fleeing from
Islamic states. A reasonable estimate for the Muslim
population in Finland is 40,000. Media reported in October
and November 2008, that at least 40,000 Muslims reside in
Finland; of these, one report said, 27,000 are immigrants,
9,000 to 13,000 are next generation and 1,000 are converts.
(NOTE: These two reports did not reflect a source for their
figures. END NOTE.)

MUSLIM POPULATION DEMOGRAPHICS
--------------


HELSINKI 00000239 002 OF 003



6. (U) Based on additional Statistics Finland data on
"Citizenship of the population by age and sex 31.12.2006,"
immigrants to Finland - virtually all of the Muslim
population - typically bring a different population age
structure than exists among the Finnish populace in general:
Most immigrants are working age and the proportion of
children and young people with them is larger, explained by
families accompanying refugees and family reunification.
Finnish officials commented to PolOff that birthrates are
initially higher among immigrant families, but the higher
birthrate cannot be corroborated by the data, as live births
in Finland are not necessarily reported by mother's or
father's mother tongue or origin.

MUSLIM POPULATION BOOMLET?
--------------


7. (U) Finland may be experiencing a boomlet in its Muslim
population due to asylum and refugee activity. Somali and
Iraqi refugees comprise a large majority of asylum
applicants. In 2008 and likely in 2009 a large number of
UNHCR refugees will be Kurdish Iraqis and Palestinians.
Media reported that in 2008 a total of 4,000 people applied
for asylum in Finland with most of them arriving from Somalia
and Iraq; media also reported that the number of applications
is expected to climb to 6,000 in 2009. Statistics from the
Finnish Migration Service support the reported trend; Iraqi
asylum applications grew 284 per cent for 2008 over 2007; and
Somali applications grew 165 per cent; Iranian applications
grew 82 per cent. In a meeting with PolOff, a Helsinki city
official estimated that each of four ferries coming daily
from Sweden brings six asylum applicants.


8. (SBU) COMMENT. The fast rise of a youthful, largely male
immigrant population during an economic downturn will present
a challenge to the government. An additional concern is the
drop in public support for immigration, revealed in latest
national polls. One of the GoF's goals for the second half
of its term is to focus more on immigration policy -
integration, education and employment. END COMMENT.


MOTHER TONGUE STATISTICS
--------------


9. (U) The GoF agency Statistics Finland issued a report,
"Population Structure and Vital Statistics by Municipality
2006," which presents the most detailed published population
data (October 2007) available for mother tongue statistics.

PASHTO: 317 nationwide with 150 in Southern Finland and 159
in Western Finland
ALBANIAN: 5,415 nationwide with 4,376 of those in Southern
Finland.
AMHARIC: 549 nationwide with 433 of those in Southern
Finland.
ARABIC: 7,564 nationwide with 5,568 of those in Southern
Finland, 1,240 in Western Finland, 474 in Eastern Finland,
265 in Northern Finland and 17 in the Aland Islands.
AZERBAIJANI: 261 nationwide with 165 of those in Southern
Finland and 93 in Western Finland.
INDONESIAN: 211 nationwide with 150 of those in Southern
Finland.
KURDISH: 5,469 nationwide with 4,237 of those in Southern
Finland and 872 in Western Finland, 113 in Eastern Finland,
199 in Northern Finland, and 49 in the Aland Islands.
MALAYALAM: 114 nationwide with 89 in Southern Finland.
PERSIAN: 3,529 nationwide with 1,944 in Southern Finland,
1,096 in Western Finland, 246 in Eastern Finland, 207 in
Northern Finland and 36 in Aland Islands.
SOMALI: 8,990 nationwide with 8,505 in Southern Finland, 336
in Western Finland, 73 in Eastern Finland, and 76 in Northern
Finland.
TATAR: 138 nationwide with 125 in Southern Finland.
TURKISH: 3,929 nationwide with 2,855 in Southern Finland,
692 in Western Finland, 191 in Eastern Finland and 187 in
Northern Finland.
TURKMEN: 164 nationwide with 90 in Southern Finland and 72
in Western Finland.
URDU: 679 nationwide with 546 in Southern Finland and 107 in
Western Finland.
CHECHEN: 146 nationwide with 98 in Southern Finland and 36
in Western Finland.

Total of these languages nationwide (2006): 37,475.

Statistics Finland "Statistical Yearbook of Finland 2008"
presents the most recent data nationwide (October 2008)
regarding year end 2007. Many of the less widely spoken
second languages are relegated to "other" in the newer report.

HELSINKI 00000239 003 OF 003




ALBANIAN: 5791
AMHARIC: 637
ARABIC: 8119
KURDISH: 5893
PASHTO: 364
PERSIAN: 3896
SOMALI: 9810
TURKISH: 4276
URDU: 800

Total of these languages nationwide (2007): 39,586


COUNTRY OF ORIGIN STATISTICS
--------------


10. (U) Statistics Finland reports (non-Finnish) citizenship
or (non-Finnish) country of birth for 2006, as follows
included:

Country/Citizenship/Birth
Afghanistan/2011/1738
Albania/104/124
Algeria/252/536
Azerbaijan/121/64
Bangladesh/606/736
Bosnia & Herzegovina/1599/70
Burma (Myamar )/403/287
Cameroon/201/193
Congo/40/--
Congo (DCR)/676/556
Cote d'Ivoire/--/74
Egypt/279/611
Eritrea/73/--
Ethiopia/383/1001
Former Yugosalvia/529/5214
Gambia/177/546
Georgia/51/--
Ghana/447/546
India/1990/2479
Indonesia/181/246
Iran/2602/3442
Iraq/3045/4436
Israel/328/624
Jordan/137/197
Kazakhstan/307/307
Kenya/459/578
Kuwait/--/83
Lebanon/100/440
Liberia/77/80
Libya/107/130
Malaysia/188/296
Morocco/702/1366
Nepal/269/309
Nigeria/572/657
Pakistan/540/770
Philippines/671/1129
Rwanda/74/76
Saudi Arabia/--/223
Senegal/58/78
Serbia/45/--
Serbia & Montenegro/3340/813
Sierra Leone/53/72
Singapore/48/99
Somalia/4623/5261
Sri Lanka/298/470
Sudan/976/764
Syria/140/304
Tanzania/207/303
Thailand/2994/4074
Tunisia/255/411
Turkey/2886/3708
Uganda/58/68
Uzbekistan/99/--
Zambia/76/105


11. Contact at Post for further information on the data:
Lisa Conesa,email,ConesaLB@state.gov

BUTLER