In fact, terrorists tend to be non-faithful individuals (many using drugs, alcohol and prostitutes), who are drawn to radical peer groups for political or personal but not religious reasons, according to the British intelligence agency M15. Very few have been raised in religious households.
There is indeed evidence that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalization.
The Star: Toronto:It started “in the far reaches of the Internet and the mutterings of the political right, then in increasingly mainstream and mass-market venues” and has since entered “the central corridors of European and American politics.”
So writes Doug Saunders in The Myth of the Muslim Tide (Alfred Knopf Canada), to be released next week. He is the European bureau chief of the Globe and Mail, and author of the much-acclaimed Arrival City (about the sprawling slums of Mumbai, Rio, London, Paris, Chongqing, Los Angeles, etc. — the first stop in the mass migration of millions from rural to urban areas).
Saunders was living in the U.S. during the Sept. 11 attacks and in London during the July 7, 2005, subway bombing. He has reported extensively on the war on terror and on Islamophobia in Europe.
There, conspiracy theories about an Arab/Muslim takeover of the continent — “Eurabia” — helped propel far-right political parties to prominence.
In the U.S., anti-Muslim bigotry has reached such alarming levels that four of the leading Republican presidential candidates went mostly unchallenged as they spread patently false notions about Muslims and Islam, often at the behest of their rich Islamophobic funders.
Saunders tackles and counters several myths:
- Muslims are breeding like rats.
In 2010, the Muslim population of the European Union plus non-members Switzerland and Norway was 18.2 million, or 4.5 per cent. By 2030, it would be 29.8 million — 7.1 per cent. By 2050, it would reach 10 per cent. That’s according to three authoritative studies.
In 2010, the American Muslim population was estimated at 2.6 million. By 2030, it would be 6.2 million, or 1.7 per cent — as numerous as Jews and Episcopalians.
But facts don’t seem to matter. A YouTube video “Muslim Demographics” has been watched by 13 million people, even though “every one of its claims is untrue.”
- Islamic belief equals high birth rates.
“There is no tie between Islamic beliefs and fertility rates,” even if five of the 10 most fertile countries are Muslim-majority nations.
“Muslim countries are undergoing one of the fastest rates of fertility decline in history . . . and are converging with those of Europe.”
Iranian average family size has fallen to 1.7 children, a lower rate than in Britain or France. Indonesia’s is down to 2.19, Turkey’s to 2.15, Tunisia’s to 2.04, the UAE’s to 1.9, Lebanon’s to 1.86, and Bosnian Muslims’ to 1.23.