Dutch government statistics agency cuts estimate of Muslim population

Amsterdam, Netherlands - There are significantly fewer Muslims in the Netherlands than previously believed, the country's Central Bureau for Statistics said Wednesday, after a review of its census techniques.

The CBS said it was cutting estimates to 850,000, or 5.2 percent of the country's 16.3 million population, from 1 million, or 6.1 percent.

The agency has switched to a survey-based technique in calculating how many Dutch Muslims there are, rather than counting them on the basis of their country of origin.

The main reason for the change is that the old technique underreported the number of non-Muslims immigrating from Muslim-majority countries. It also failed to take account of people who have converted to another religion or live secular lives and no longer identify themselves as Muslim.

There remain around 1 million first-generation non-Western immigrants in the country and 700,000 second-generation immigrants with one or more non-Western immigrant parent, according to CBS data.

The largest immigrant groups in the Netherlands are Turkish, Moroccan, and Surinamese — though immigration has been curtailed sharply since 2001 amid a crackdown. Poles are currently the largest source of new immigrants.

People who claim some Indonesian ancestry make up 2.4 percent of the Dutch population, but the bulk arrived during or shortly after the colonial period that ended after World War II and are no longer seen as immigrants.