By Mark Memmott

"I think that the United States and the West generally; we have to educate ourselves more effectively on Islam," President Barack Obama told France's Canal Plus TV this week. "And one of the points I want to make is; is that if you actually took the number of Muslims (sic) Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world. And so there's got to be a better dialogue and a better understanding between the two peoples."

(We added the bold.)

What do the stats tell us?

NationMaster.com, which uses data from the CIA World Factbook to generate all kinds of charts, offers up three different measures -- none of which make the U.S. look like "one of the largest Muslim countries":

-- By one estimate, there are about 6 million Muslims in America. That would put the U.S. at No. 34 in the world.

-- By another measure, the Muslim population may be closer to 4.1 million -- No. 41 globally.

-- And if you rank nations in terms of the percentages of their populations that are Muslims, NationMaster says the U.S. comes in at No. 115.

The Census Bureau, not surprisingly, adds some perspective of its own: It says just 0.6% of the nation's adult population is Muslim.

The picture doesn't really change if you take the largest estimate we've found today. The non-profit Islamic Information Center puts the U.S. Muslim population at 8 million.

The nation with the largest Muslim population: Indonesia, at more than 213 million.

Update at 2:05 p.m. ET. Thanks to help from All Things Considered producer Gabe O'Connor, here's a quick clip of the president's comment (with a French translator for added authenticity).


The French network's video is here.

Contributing: William Hameline

categories: Religion

12:12 - June 3, 2009