Scaremongering over Muslim demographics

Recently, a video has been popping up on various Muslim blogs ([1], [2], [3]), attempting to raise fears among Westerners that Muslim birth rates are vastly outstripping non-Muslim ones, to the point that some western European countries will have Muslim majorities by the middle of this century. Another example of this kind of scaremongering appeared on the Telegraph’s blog site (which, regardless of the impression the site might give, is not restricted to Telegraph columnists; it appears that anyone can get a blog there) by some guy called Ed West, “a journalist and social commentator who specialises in politics, religion and low culture”. West compares those on the left who “kept silent” about the issue of declining European birth rates coupled with rising Muslim ones to those on the right who “kept silent” about man-made climate change, until Hurricane Katrina forced the issue out into the open.

Here’s the video:

The video, made by very obviously ignorant people (their maps show the whole of Ireland as part of the UK and a backwards Turkish red-and-white flag is used to represent Islam), alleges that current general birth rates in several European countries are at levels which have always brought about the death of civilisations, and that only the United States is bucking the trend and, even then, only Latino immigration has made up the figure (so, presumably he counts Latinos as “his” people). Even so, as I pointed out at Muhajideen Ryder, it compares the number of nominal Muslims (and not all countries measure religious adherence, so the number could easily be based on countries of origin and other factors which do not always translate into religious adherence) with numbers of practising Christians, rather than those who merely identify as such. As we all know, there are a lot of Muslims who are not practising, including some of the most troublesome, as with the Muslims, or descendants of Muslims, who rioted in France in 2005 and in Australia in 2006. More is to be feared from them in terms of crime than of religious radicalism. So the claim that “in 39 years, France will be an Islamic Republic” is absurd.

Ed West writes of gays in some European countries abandoning their traditional left-wing party allegiances and turning to the anti-immigrant right in response to a wave of attacks by “Muslim youths”. However, I’ve yet to hear of a Muslim religious leader telling Muslims to go out and attack gays, and I’ve not heard of a significant problem with this in the UK, so we should consider the differences in make-up of the Muslim communities in the UK and Europe and how the political classes relate to them if we want to know why this mixture of bigotry and juvenile delinquency found in Europe is not found, to anything like the same extent, in the UK where the left still maintains the loyalty of both the gay community and the Muslims. A vocal minority of lunatics aside, religious Muslims in the UK are quite placid, in my experience.

The persistent claims that the changes in the ratio of Muslims to others will rapidly bring an Islamic state in which women cannot go out without hijab and a long coat, gays get stoned to death and people can only join Islam but not leave it are laughable. How many Muslim-majority countries are even like this today? A handful. In many, it is practising Muslims who are at a disadvantage or even face persecution. In most Muslim countries where there is some form of democracy, religious parties actually get only a small share of the vote, as has always been the case in Pakistan, outside the less densely-populated western provinces, and was seen recently in Indonesia. Issues of religion and politics do matter to Muslims, but so do the things which matter to everyone else, such as crime, education, the economy and so forth. The idea that as soon as the Muslims make up 51% of a country’s population, it is only a matter of one more election before there is an Islamic state is ill-founded. If the Islamic party promises “hijab enforcement squads” or anything similar, it can expect to lose an election in more or less any Muslim country, let alone France.

It’s highly likely, in fact, that the political establishment will remain in the hands of non-Muslims long after this happens, as, crucially, will the armed forces. What is more likely to happen is that “dirty politics” of the sort found in the countries of origin of many Muslims will rise: vote-buying and electoral corruption (this is already prevalent in the UK, and a number of cases of postal-vote fraud have been recorded, as well as postal votes being used to deprive individuals of their votes, mostly for the benefit of Labour and against new movements appealing to younger and more religious Muslims), clan politics and wasta-ism (meaning claiming, or needing to claim, connections as means to get things done). This is not to say that we do not have enough dirty politics of our own, of course (Asians certainly did not invent postal vote fraud in the UK; google “granny farming”). However, Europe is still part of the developed world and the problems of much of the Muslim world are Third World ones, which do not stem from religion but from poverty and corruption. The intellectual backwardness of much of the Muslim world is often blamed on Muslim hostility to what the critics call “free inquiry”, which is a joke as inquiry does not qualify as free unless the outcome is against religion; however, speak to those who have studied in many Muslim countries and you will hear tales of students not getting much work out of their professors because they are too busy giving private tuition. There is also stifling bureaucracy, a result of governments insisting on providing more jobs than there is actual work, and bribery. How Islam contributes to this I have no idea, as it explicitly prohibits bribery.

A final consideration is that those who tell non-Muslims “have more babies” point to the potential effect of a “Muslim takeover” on women; however, the decline in the birth rate has much to do with the increased freedom of women to choose to have fewer, or no, children, often later than they would otherwise done, and to have careers instead. The idea of going back to the 1950s and being a housewife and mother of six would be scarcely more appealing than any realistic vision of a “Muslim takeover” (particularly when the Muslims they know don’t much look like Taliban and ghostly figures in burqas, the women often having careers and, indeed, fewer children than they used to). It is a paradox that this form of “muscular liberalism” posits a problem which can only be solved with measures which would be off-putting in the extreme to all but the most conservative people in the west today.

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