Debunking Eurabia myths

Dispelling the Myth of Eurabia —

This is the lead article from the current edition of Newsweek, in which scare stories about Europe being taken over by Muslims by means of immigration and breeding are debunked:

A much-cited 2004 study from the U.S. National Intelligence Council outlines a number of possible scenarios. Its most aggressive is that the number of Muslims in Europe could increase from roughly 20 million today—about 5 percent of the population—to 38 million by 2025. But that projection turns out to be attributed to “diplomatic and media reporting as well as government, academic, and other sources.” In other words, it’s all speculation based on speculation—and even if it’s accurate, it would still mean the number of Muslims will represent just 8 percent of the European population, estimated by the EU to be 470 million in 2025. Indeed, if there is a surge ahead, its scale looks overstated. “There is a quite deliberate exaggeration, as has often been pointed out—but the figures are still being cited,” says Jytte Klausen, an authority on Islam in Europe at Boston’s Brandeis University.

Coming up with a reasonable estimate for the percentage of Muslims now living in Europe, let alone making projections for the future, is a virtually impossible task. The number of illegal immigrants is unknown and, in a sign of the sensitivity of the issue, many countries including France and Germany do not even tally census data on the religion of legal residents. It is true that the Muslim minority is destined to grow steadily in Europe, especially given the youthful profile of today’s immigrants. Fertility rates remain higher among Muslim immigrants than among other Europeans, and Muslims may continue to arrive in Europe in large numbers. But the alarmists assume that past patterns are sure to hold. “The worst of the scaremongering is based on the assumption that current behavior will continue,” says Grace Davie, an expert on Europe and Islam at the University of Exeter in Britain.

For the number of Muslims to outnumber non-Muslims by midcentury, it would require either breeding on a scale rarely seen in history or for immigration to continue at a pace that’s now politically unacceptable. More likely, new controls will slow Muslim immigration. The birthrate for Muslim immigrants is also likely to continue to decline, as it has tended to do, with greater affluence and better health care. There is no Europewide data available, but one study says fertility rates among Turkish-born women in the Netherlands fell from 3.2 in 1990 to 1.9 in 2005, barely above the figure for native-born Dutch. Over the same period, the equivalent figure for Moroccan-born women in the Netherlands dropped from 4.9 to 2.9. Also, fertility rates are edging upward in some Northern European countries, which would offset some of the Muslim growth.

They also cite the lack of unity among Muslims, who originate with different Muslim countries, speak different languages and follow different Islamic traditions, and that there is no continent-wide Islamic political movement; more than 10% of the “Muslims” in Germany are, in fact, Alevis. Attitudes to morality are often much closer to that of mainstream society than one might expect (much less in the UK than on the Continent), and many younger “Muslims” are somewhat divorced from their parents’ or grandparents’ religion.

This latter fact is the biggest blind spot of the Eurabia scaremongers: they confuse the riff-raff who live in some of France’s and the Netherlands’ ghettoes with real, active Muslims, such that events such as the riots in France in 2005 are treated as some sort of jihad when, in fact, it was in part a youth reaction to police brutality and in part just mindless thuggery. More of these people will not mean an Islamic republic; it will just mean more crime and social breakdown.

Finally, they tell us that most Muslims are actually loyal to their home countries (meaning those they live in, not those they come from) and surveys show that they have more confidence in their countries’ elections, justice systems and financial systems than the white population. This makes sense given the politics of many of their home countries, which are often chaotic (Pakistan), dictatorial (Tunisia) or infested with organised crime and communal religious bigotry (India); you don’t have the rule of law in many of them and you have to bribe to get anything done. The anti-democratic voices are often those raised most loudly, but most younger Muslims have no direct experience of living in other than a western democracy, the caliphate is hardly even living memory and the present world presents no viable alternative.

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