Source: National Post
Author: Chris Selley
Canadian journalist Doug Saunders’ new book, The Myth of the Muslim Tide (Knopf), promises and delivers an impartial examination of the notion that Muslim immigration urgently threatens Western civilization. Balanced as it is, though, it reads mostly as a thorough, fact-dense and convincing debunking of that notion. For those inclined to be reassured, it does so very efficiently.
The theory, which has sold millions of books and is appreciated by at least one admitted mass-murderer, holds that Muslims are fundamentally different than previous immigrants. Their religion is politically evangelical — it demands the installation of Islamic law — and is their primary source of loyalty. It is inexorably linked to extremism. And high Muslim birth rates, along with non-Muslims’ low ones, will soon effectively put them in charge. It is by no means a fringe philosophy, unless you consider people like Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Mark Steyn or Geert Wilders irrelevant, which you really shouldn’t.
Mr. Saunders’ most basic argument is, simply, that there is no Muslim Tide. Population projections from the Pew Research Center suggest the Muslim population of the European Union might expand from 4.5% in 2010 to 7.1% in 2030. In the United States, the figure might be 1.7%; in Canada, 6.6%. In France, Germany and elsewhere, studies show that the birth rate among Muslims plummets toward the national norm beginning in the second generation. Those numbers just aren’t big enough to worry about. Individual extremists can wreak plenty of havoc, of course, but aren’t an existential threat.
Are Muslims uncommonly devout? French government research shows only “8% to 15% regularly attend religious services”; 42% supported banning the hijab in public schools. Pew found that American Muslims are no more devout than Christians, and no more likely to identify themselves primarily by their religion.
Are Muslims bent on remaking their new countries? Pew found 63% of American Muslims see “no conflict being a devout Muslim and living in modern society”; the figure for Christians was identical. Mr. Saunders notes that British Muslims lag behind those in other nations in respecting homosexuality and other indicators of social tolerance. (An “alarming” if small minority would prefer to live under religious law.) But he suggests this is no evidence of disloyalty. London think tank Demos found a higher percentage of Muslims (83%) said they were “proud to be a British citizen” than the national average. Studies show French, British and American Muslims are no angrier and no less comfortable among fellow citizens of other religions than non-Muslims.
Do Muslims support terrorism? A famous Gallup poll found 8% of Muslim Americans believe violence against civilians is “sometimes” or “often” justified” — disturbing on its face. But the overall figure was 24%! “Across the Western world,” Mr. Saunders writes, “support for violence and terrorism among Muslims is no higher than that of the general population, and in some cases it is lower.” And in any case, a 2008 study of hundreds of extremists by MI5 found most were “religious novices,” untutored by clerics and motivated by perceived injustice rather than scripture. It concluded they are not unlike “other counter-cultural, subversive groups of young men” that have periodically sowed terror in the West.