MOHAMMED, or other variations of the name of Islam's founding prophet, has become the most popular name choice for baby boys in the four biggest cities of Holland.
The country's social security agency found that traditional Dutch names have been displaced in 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 table of most popular names for boys, replacing traditional favourites such as Jan, Luuk, Gijs or Daan. At a national level, Mohammed is now the 16th most popular name for boys.
The figures, obtained from the Dutch Social Insurance Bank, differ from 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, avoided controversy by keeping the name of Islam's founder outside the top 20.
Geert Wilders, leader of the far-right, anti-Islam Freedom Party, which leads the Dutch opinion polls, has demanded a government investigation after a report last week that more than a fifth of the EU's population is forecast to be Muslim by 2050. Cabinet ministers will discuss 79 parliamentary questions tabled by his 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 5 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.
Muhammad is also the most popular first name in the world.
It is quickly gaining popularity in the US and Britain. Muhammad is reported to be the second-most popular baby name in Britain. According to the US Social Security Administration, the first name Muhammad takes 639th spot in the list of baby names. Overall, the surname Muhammad is among the most common names borne by Muslim families throughout the world.
Source: The Age