Number Of Muslims In Italy Rockets From 2,000 To 2 Million Within Five Decades
Academics say the number is expected to continue to rise as migrants from Africa and the Middle East continue to arrive.
Sociologist Massimo Introvigne, director of the Centre for New Religions Studies (Cesnur), branded the number “shocking”.
He said: "This number is shocking also because in 1970 there were only between 2,000 and 3,000."
Mr Introvigne said the number of Muslims in Italy is growing rapidly.
Islam is the second biggest religion in Italy behind Catholicism.
There are only four official mosques registered with around 2,000 unregistered mosques across the country.
In a bid to ease relations between the Italian authorities and Muslims, Italy set up a Council of Italian Islam to improve integration.
But despite being home to Europe’s largest mosque - the Great Mosque of Rome - Islam is not formally recognised by the state leading to a surge in underground places of worship.
In September, the Great Mosque of Rome shunned a scheme to open its doors to the public during Eid.
It is not the first time the mosque has distanced itself from events to promote solidarity with the church.
The mosque did not take part in a mass after the killing of Father Jacques Hamel by two Islamic terrorists in the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray in Normandy, despite an Islamic delegation taking part in the service.
Based in Turin, Cesnur was established in 1988 by religious scholars from European and American universities.
The centre found 245,621 Italian citizens class themselves as Muslims compared to 1,613,500 immigrants in Italy who identify as Muslims.
In a study, Cesnur said: “The estimate of 245,621 Italian Muslim citizens is subject to rapid future changes in the case of more rapid access to citizenship for immigrant Muslims. In their great majority, the Italian citizens are not Muslim converts, but "new citizens" who were already Muslims at the time of acquiring citizenship.”
Italy has taken in more than 400,000 migrants including Muslims and Christians in the last three years with many saved from rickety wooden boats pushed out to sea by North African people smugglers.
A total of 124,500 migrants have arrived in Italy alone between January and September 2016, the country’s home office has said.
But it is unclear exactly how many Muslims there are in the country as Italy’s National Institute for Statistics does not collect religious data.