10 Myths About Muslims in the West

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URL – http://worldmuslimcongress.blogspot.com/2013/10/10-myths-about-muslims-in-west.html

Doug Sanders

In my new book The Myth of the Muslim Tide, I chronicle the widespread
misunderstanding of Muslim immigration to the West. As with Jews and
Catholics before, I discuss that Muslims are being seen as an
impossible-to-integrate, fast-reproducing invasion force who follow a
religion that's more an ideology of conquest than a faith. Using the
latest facts and figures, I illustrate the far less alarming truth
about these new arrivals.

Here are 10 common myths about Muslims in the West:

1. Muslims have a higher birth rate than other religions, and will
take over the world by population

Two generations ago, it seemed as if Islamic countries were destined
for out-of-control population growth. People spoke of an “Islamic
fertility rate” - - more than 5 children per family, on average - -
and predicted minaret spires foresting the Earth. Today, it is readily
apparent that Islam is not connected with population growth. Just look
at Iran, the world’s only Islamic theocracy, where the average family
had around 7 children in the 1980s - - and has 1.7 today, a lower rate
than France or Britain. Or look at the United Arab Emirates, with 1.9
children per family. Or Turkey, ruled by an elected party of devout
Muslims for a decade, which now has 2.15 children per family. Or
Lebanon, where, despite Hezbollah’s rise, has only 1.86 children per
family (so that its population will be shrinking). Around the world,
the average Muslim family size has fallen from 4.3 children per family
in 1995 to 2.9 in 2010, and is expected to fall below the
population-growth rate, and converge with Western family sizes, by
mid-century. This is a crucial sign that Muslim societies are
undergoing a major modernizing, secularizing wave - - even if they
elect Islamist parties while doing so.

2. Immigrants from Muslim countries are going to swamp us
People look at the huge families of many new Muslim immigrants and
imagine them multiplying at exponential rates.

But this is a bit of an illusion - -as are many of the figures suggesting that Muslim
immigrants have fertility rates higher than in their homelands. This
is because most new immigrants have most of their children in the
years immediately after their arrival. The way we calculate Total
Fertility Rate - - the measure of average family size - - is by taking
the total number of births a woman has had and extrapolating it across
her fertile life. As a result, immigrants appear to have more children
than they really do. In reality, the family sizes of Muslim immigrant
groups are converging fast with those of average Westerners - -
faster, it seems, than either Jewish or Catholic immigrants did in
their time. Muslims in France and Germany are now having only 2.2
children per family, barely above the national average. And while
Pakistani immigrants in Britain have 3.5 children each, their
British-born daughers have only 2.5. Across Europe, the difference
between the Muslim and non-Muslim fertility rate has fallen from 0.7
to 0.4, and is headed toward a continent-wide convergence.

3. Muslims will become a majority in European countries

In fact, we now have several large-scale projections based on
population-growth trends and immigration rates which show that the
Muslim populations of Europe are growing increasingly slowly and that
by the middle of this century - - even if immigration rates are not
reduced - - the proportion of Muslims in Europe will probably peak
somewhere short of 10% (it is currently around 7%). By that point,
Muslims will have family sizes and age profiles not that different
from Europe in general.

4. Muslims will become a dominant group of cultural outsiders in the
United States

Despite the hysterical rhetoric coming from Newt Gingrich, Michelle
Bachmann and their ilk, Muslims there are not only a very tiny group,
but they are also one of the most integrated groups in the country - -
especially if you consider that 69% of American Muslims are
first-generation immigrants, and 71% of those immigrants arrived after
1990. There are only 2.6 million Muslims in the United States today.
By 2030, that number is likely to rise to 6.2 million (because Muslims
are young and fertile) - - at which point Muslim will be 1.7% of the
population, almost as numerous as Jews and Episcopalians. Even though
they’re new, American Muslims tend to be economically successful and
highly educated. With 40% of them holding a college degree, they’re
the second most educated group after Jews - - and far more educated
than Americans in general, only 29% of whom have a degree.

5. Muslim immigrants in the West hold the same backward views that
Muslims do in the Middle East and Pakistan

Actually, Muslims change their cultural views dramatically when they
emigrate. For example, 62% of American Muslims say that “a way can be
found for the state of Israel to exist so that the rights of
Palestinians are addressed” - - a rate barely lower than that of
average Americans (67%), and vastly ahead of the miniscule response
among Middle Eastern Muslims - - for whom between 20% and 40% agreed
with that statement. Similarly, 39% of American Muslims and 47% of
German Muslims say they tolerate homosexuality, compared to
single-figure responses in most Islamic countries – and those rates
are rising with each immigrant generation. On these important
questions, Muslim immigrants are converging with Western values fast.

6. Muslims in America are more loyal to their faith than their country

True, 49% of Americans from Muslim backgrounds say they consider
themselves “Muslim first and American second” and 47% claim to attend
a mosque on Friday. But you have to compare that to American
Christians, 46% of whom say they identify themselves as “Christian
first and American second” (that number rises to 70% among
Evangelicals). And 45% of American Chistians attend a church service
every Sunday. In other words, Muslims have adopted exactly the same
rate of religious observance as the people around them in their host
country. We see this just as strongly in France, where a fifth of
Muslims are atheist and only 5% attend a mosque regularly – almost the
same rate as French Christians.

7. Poor Muslims are flooding out of overpopulated countries into the West
In fact, the poorest most overpopulated Muslim countries are producing
the least emigration - - and very little of it is to the West.

Immigration tends to come from the countries with the lowest
population-growth rates, and it’s rarely to the closest countries.
Muslims are far from the largest immigrant group - - even in countries
that immediately adjoin the Islamic world. In Spain, which lies across
a narrow state from poor Arab countries, only 13% of immigrants are
Muslim: Most have come from Spanish-speaking countries across the
Atlantic. In Britain, only 28% of immigrants are Muslim. And those
numbers do not seem poised to increase.

8. Muslim immigrants are angry at the society around them

In fact, Muslim immigrants appear to be MORE satisfied with the world
around them, and its secular institutions, than the general
population. Muslim immigrants in the United States are more likely to
say they are “satisfied with their lives” (84%) than average Americans
are (75%) - - and that number rises to 90% for American-born Muslims.
Even among Muslims in neighourhoods where the community mosque has
been vandalized - - an increasingly frequent occurrence - - fully 76%
say that their community is an “excellent” or “good” place to live.
This usually extends into pride in national institutions. For example,
83% of British Muslims say they are “proud to be a British citizen,”
versus only 79% of Britons in general - - and only 31% of Muslims
agree that “Britain’s best days are behind her,” versus 45% of Britons
in general.

9. Muslims in the West cheer for terrorist violence

While it might seem chilling to learn that 8% of American Muslims feel
that violence against civilian targets is “often or sometimes
justified” if the cause is right, you have to compare that to the
response given by non-Muslim Americans, 24% of whom said that such
attacks are “often or sometimes justified.” This is reflected in most
major surveys. When a large-scale survey asked if “attacks on
civilians are morally justified,” 1% of the French public, 1% of the
German public and 3% of the British public answered yes; among
Muslims, the responses were 2%, 0.5%, and 2%. Asked if it is
“justifiable to use violence for a noble cause,” 7% of the French
public agreed, along with 8% of French Muslims; 10% of the German
public and fewer than 2% of German Muslims; 10% of the British public
and 8% of British Muslims. This may well be because 85% of the victims
of Islamic terrorism are Muslims.

10. Muslims have become so populous that the most common baby name in
Britain is now Mohammed.

This is true - - but it means far less than you’d think. In 2010, if
you combined all 12 spelling variants of the Islamic prophet’s name,
“Mohammed” was more popular than any other name given to new babies.
But that’s more a consequence of naming trends than anything else. In
a great many Muslim cultures, ALL male babies are given “Mohammed” as
an official first name. But among many Westerners – especially white
Anglo-Saxons and black Christians - - there has been an explosion in
unorthodox baby names - - as of 2011, these groups are 50% more likely
than they were a generation ago to give their children uncommon baby
names. As a result, Mohammed manages to reach the Number 1 spot
without being all that common - - when combined, babies named after
the Islamic prophet made up only 1% of British newborns in 2010.

Follow Doug Saunders on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DougSaunders
Author & European Bureau Chief, The Globe and Mail

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