Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A new perspective on Eurabia

The Vancouver Sun's columnist Douglas Todd produced an interesting column, "Do Muslims seek to dominate the West? And could they do it?", with an associated conversation at his blog. It mentions me by name, and perhaps unsurprisingly it also deals with Eurabia.

It is a frightening vision of future Europe, the logic of which Canadians would be wise to monitor.

It goes like this: The population of Europe will be 40-per-cent Muslim by 2020.

Due to high immigration and birthrates, the forewarning declares, Muslims from the Middle East and Africa will soon dominate much, if not all, of European politics, education and the courts.

Some prophets warn Muslims in Europe will impose shariah law on everyone -- banning homosexual relationships, forcing all women to wear headscarves and allowing men (not women) to be polygamous. The continent might as well become known as "Eurasia."

It's a disturbing vision.

Is there anything to it?

- Will hundreds of millions of Muslims soon take over Europe, demographically?

- If they do, would they impose conservative moral values on non-Muslims?

After pointing out the numerous studies demonstrating that Muslims are in fact not taking over Europe demographically, as Muslim immigrants tend to adopt the demographic patterns of their new countries sooner or later, whether through immigration or through completed fertility, Todd--a religion in culture writer--examines the qu

Moderate Muslims are increasingly becoming influential in Europe and North America. I have interviewed Muslim leaders in the Netherlands, such as Turkish immigrant Haci Kraceur, who was encouraging Muslim immigrants to fully embrace the Dutch approach to religious freedom and free speech.

Kraceur's organization, called Milli Gorus or National Vision, was calling on Dutch Muslims to avoid living in all-Muslim neighbourhoods and to open up the country's 400 mosques to everyone with cafes, bakeries and Turkish massage parlours.

I've also talked to the influential European Muslim intellectual, Tariq Ramadan. He's calling on Muslims everywhere to be more "self-critical," while urging Christians, Jews, secularists and others in Europe and North America to resist the temptation to make Muslims the new enemy.

Ramadan, a gracious man and subtle thinker, was recently asked a tough question by a Dutch interviewer: Would Muslim leaders want to ban homosexuality if they ever became a majority in parts of Europe?

Ramadan maintained Muslims don't want to "silently colonize" Europe. As beneficiaries of multiculturalism and human rights, most Muslims, he said, want to respect over-riding Western values, which include tolerating homosexual relationships.

Closer to Canada, Todd also has a long history of interviews with Canadian Muslims.

[T]he Canadian Muslims I have met are a mixed bag when it comes to how seriously they follow their religion. Many Canadian Muslims are basically "non-practising Muslims," like France's Zinedine Zidane.

However, I have talked to many devout Metro Vancouver Muslims, including young people. The teenagers I met are, like many Muslims, left-wing about economic issues, but morally conservative about sex outside marriage, homosexuality and drinking.

They both celebrate and criticize North America's libertarian culture. I was glad they attended public universities and public high schools (even though many others attend separate Muslim schools, which raises legitimate questions).

The Muslim teenagers I met interacted with Canadians from all ethnicities and walks of life. They did so especially through sports teams. Perhaps most important of all, the Muslim teens deeply appreciated the freedom they have in Canada. Most said either they or their parents come from countries in the Middle East and Asia where free speech and association is not at all a given. They were grateful to be in a democratic country.

Douglas Todd is quite right to observe that culture is as much of a factor in Eurabia fantasies as demographics, that Eurabia is the product of an ill-founded existential fear for the future of a culture that can't be explained away by, well, reality. (See the comments at Todd's blog if you don't believe me.) This sort of sloppiness hurts all of us interested in population trends, as I noted last year.

For people like ourselves, interested in researching population trends here at Demography Matters and elsewhere, this sort of rhetoric creates yet another set of myths that have to be debunked. It is interesting to trace out some of the likely population futures of different regions, countries and continents, as is determining the different factors operating in different communities within a given territory. Turning a field that could be filled by an ongoing stream of productive research into an endless cycle of disproved popular mythologies would be boring. More to the point, the constant repetition of myths like the ones enunciated by Romney -- that the European continent is declining, that Europe is threatened by foreigners -- poisons public discourse by legitimating ever more radical statements. If Europeans at large are concerned about the extent to which communities of recent immigrant origin are or are not acculturating to the norms of a wider society and want to influence public policy accordingly, how likely will the debate be calm and rational if many the people who participate seriously believe things scarcely more sophisticated than "OMG the Muslims are going to P3WN Europe"?

Culture certainly plays a role in the study of demographics, especially in multicultural societies like the ones that nearly all of our readers now live in. Understanding the peculiarities of the demographics of the different component groups--the degree and speed of fertility and mortality convergence to national averages, the rate and extent of cultural assimilation, the changing spatial distribution of population, and so on--is very important indeed. But again, we have to make sure that we're not studying their differences all the better to produce alarmist propaganda.


Nobody said...

This kind of argumentation is an example of another extreme. It's of a low quality because it tries to reduce the opponents arguments to nonsense. Compare it to this article by the Economist. Will Islam take over the world or Europe? I doubt so. Are Europe's misguided immigration policies setting up stage for more terror attacks, ethnic and sectarian tensions within Europe's biggest cities? You bet.

Many people take it too far by dehumanizing Muslims and mystifying Muslim demographics, but this does not change the fundamental fact that the problem is real. The only conclusion that a reasonable person can make after reading the Economist's article is that the integration of Muslim immigrants in Britain ended with integration of Britain into the cycles of tides and ebbs of Islamic fundamentalism in South Asia and it may take exactly one dirty bomb or a chemical attack on London's underground to send this lame multicultural utopia tumbling down.

Richard said...

Tariq Ramadan was fired today from Erasmus University in Holland:

Anyone who thinks he is moderate should read Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan by French journalist Caroline Fourest.

Also Randy your comments to that article contain some errors. There are not 500,000 Armenians in Iran. There are about 100,000 left, most having left since the Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War.

This is symptomatic of minority populations in Muslim countries. Almost invariably they are in terminal decline. Perhaps this could be the subject of a post here.

yogi said...

A pretty lame article.

Every immigration population is divided into those that have acculturated to various degrees and those that haven't.
The real question is what's the porportion of Muslims who have and haven't assimilated into Western culture?What are the prospwcts and trends?

You also cannot ignore that Islam s a universal religion that is still very enthusiastic about making the rest of the world Muslim - how many muslims in Europe actually subscribe to such an idea and support it, actively or passively is also an interesting question to answer.

Gathering quotes to prove your point is lame, not to mention that Tariq Ramadan is far from being a good example.

In short - this is bad journalism.

Nobody said...

I think such debates should consider more issues beyond such grotesque scenarios as Muslims taking Europe over demographically or plotting the world's Islamic domination.

For example: how much mismanaged immigration does it take to make a country dysfunctional? Having a 15%-20% struggling to integrate and concentrated in one's big cities minority is enough? Should we consider whole neighborhoods turned into no-go areas for police in some cities as an example of such a dysfunctional state or should we wait until the whole city becomes like this?

What effect Muslim immigration has on social cohesion and how much it contributes to the erosion of social capital and the general readiness of the native population to pay high taxes to sustain welfare states?

Among Muslims who are generally not very religious how many still identify themselves first by their Muslim background vs native population?

Given that the majority of Muslims don't support terrorism, how big the radical minority should be for security services to lose control over the situation out of the inability to monitor so many people? 1%? 5%? 10%? In case a mega attack happens, are the authorities sure that they can prevent snowballing effect of unrest and ethnic clashes spreading throughout the country?

Randy McDonald said...

Nobody (Part 1):

So far as I know, European immigration policies are quite restrictive and are becoming increasingly restrictive, with Spain an exception until the recent recession and Sweden ongoing. Are these past, present, future policies?


Thanks for correcting me re: Iranian-Armenian (Armenian-Iranian?) numbers.

As it happens, I've a post on laws of return and their effect on diaspora populations in the works. I may yet cite the Armenian experience in Iran, and thank you for raising that issue, of course.


"You also cannot ignore that Islam s a universal religion that is still very enthusiastic about making the rest of the world Muslim - how many muslims in Europe actually subscribe to such an idea and support it, actively or passively is also an interesting question to answer."

Christianity is a universal religion that is, among its adherently, still very enthusiastic about making the rest of the world Muslim.

I've no doubt that quite a lot of Muslims, in Europe and elsewhere, would like the entire world to become Muslim. Maybe they'd go so far as to try to evangelize non-Muslims.

Nobody (Part 2):

I remain to be convinced that whatever no-go areas may exist in poor European neighbourhoods are qualitatively different from, say, Harlem. Does this represent the sort of social exclusion that should see some sort of intervention from outside? Sure. An existential threat to the state? Only insofar as it indicates areas where policy is sadly lacking.

The effects of immigration on social cohesion would be interesting, I'm not quite sure how the question of religious/ethnic versus national primary identification would be relevant, and hypotheticals of very large numbers of people supporting violence in their homelands are beyond my ken. I would note, however, that after acts of hyperterrorism like 9/11 in the United States and the train bombings in Spain, ethnic clashes and/or pogroms didn't happen.

Unknown said...

All this article can't be taken seriously when Tariq Ramadan, one of the most dangerous muslim extremist in Europe is presented as a moderate.

Nobody said...


The problem with European immigration policies in general is that they are not based on any rational criteria besides "we are all just simple human beings". They don't take into account the integration record of different immigrations, they don't take into consideration cultural and religious factors. Never mind some countries that pack themselves with immigrants from the most problematic spots of the worlds - zones of ethnic conflicts and genocides. Europe cannot afford itself to be very restrictive in terms of immigration, it's now forced to do it precisely because the misguided immigration policies of the past have created tremendous troubles and generated a massive backlash in the form of anti immigration parties that in some countries are now predicted to grab up to 25% of the votes.

When you bring forward such arguments as this with Harlem, you should not be surprised that many people refuse to be convinced. Harlem of course is qualittatively different as you don't expect it to span suicide bombers and other radicals. But this is beyond the point since even if Harlem is no different, this is no reason to turn a whole place into one.

The same goes about the policy. For one I am not sure that the policy was lacking, rather that it has failed. But even if I assume that there was a political blunder here, why should I believe that a society, that for decades was failing to come up with an adequate policy, will be able to do it in the future? What is the reason I have to believe that this time it's going to be different?

Anonymous said...

zones of ethnic conflicts and genocides.

Irish and the Eastern European immigration is a bit hard to stop.

Harlem of course is qualittatively different as you don't expect it to span suicide bombers and other radicals.

you are right. The Black Panters were totally different. They weren't second generation immigrants turned terrorist, oh wait they were.

Nobody said...


How many people did the Black Panthers kill?

Anonymous said...

Not zero

Nobody said...

Ok, anon

I will help you. The Black Panthers have killed a dozen of police officers in a decade or something of their existence. They are not known to have slit people's throats or beheaded their prisoners. They did not try to launch mass terror attacks against civilian targets. They were not seeking to obtain chemical weapons or manufacture dirty bombs. You are right: They were totally different

Anonymous said...

They wanted to make the US communistic. Is that possible without violence?

Michael Blume said...

Thank you for this article! We are having lots of data about the fertility of Muslims in Europe and they are showing that "Eurabia" is a fiction. Although it is true that religious Muslims do have more kids than secular ones, the same is true for religious Christians, Jews and Hindus. Here is a set of German data:

I translated recent data from the Swiss census into English, too:

And, hey, welcome on my blogroll at scilogs.eu!

Best wishes from Germany!