Archive for August, 2009

Muslim Europe: The Scare Story du jour

August 8, 2009

The day after I read this excellent article on the BBC website debunking an Islamicphobic YouTube video, along comes this load of nonsense from the Daily Telegraph (and an Editor’s Choice on its website no less). Serendipity or what?

Here are some of the crazy predictions from the YouTube video, taken from the BBC report

Of the video’s claims that 90% of Europe’s population growth since 1990 is due Islamic immigration, only a fragment is true. Immigration is the main driver of population growth according to EU statistics and in some exceptional years, 90% of population growth has been down to net inward migration.
But that includes all immigrants coming into the EU, not just Muslims.

In the Netherlands, according to the video, half of all newborns are Muslim, and in 15 years half the population will be Muslim.
But the Dutch office of statistics estimates that Muslims make up only 5% of the population. For Dutch Muslim women to produce half the nation’s babies, they would have to be giving birth at at least 14 times the rate of their non-Muslim neighbours.

But the video doesn’t just rely on statistics, it also uses an official Government statement. It quotes it as saying: “The fall in German population can no longer be stopped. Its downward spiral is no longer reversible. It will be a Muslim state by the year 2050.”

The statement in question was made by then vice-president of the Federal Statistics Office, Walter Radermacher, who is now chief statistician of the European Union. He says that while it is true he said Germany’s population was in decline, the last part of the quote [in italics] is just an invention. He said nothing about Germany becoming a Muslim state.

“The quotation which reads as if the German government believed that Germany will become a Muslim state is simply not true,” he says. “There is no source which can be quoted that the German government has published such an expression or opinion.”
The video also claims the German government believes the number of Muslims in Europe will double to 104 million.
Mr Radermacher adds: “That is not true. The German government does not believe that the Muslim population will double in the next 40 or 50 years. There are no reliable sources that give a proof for that assumption.”

So as we can see, the video is a mish-mash of misused statistics and outright lies. Can we say the same of the Daily Telegraph article? Well firstly we should note this (the article is headlined Muslim Europe: the demographic timebomb transforming our continent)

Britain and the rest of the European Union are ignoring a demographic time bomb: a recent rush into the EU by migrants, including millions of Muslims, will change the continent beyond recognition over the next two decades, and almost no policy-makers are talking about it.

There is a very disingenuous elision of Europe with the EU here, especially from a newspaper which has a far from glorious track record of complaing about immigration into Britain from countries that are now part of the EU and that aren’t Muslim. The misuse of statistics follows shortly afterwards

The numbers are startling. Only 3.2 per cent of Spain’s population was foreign-born in 1998. In 2007 it was 13.4 per cent. Europe’s Muslim population has more than doubled in the past 30 years and will have doubled again by 2015.

Of course, no mention of what proportion of that foreign-born population is Muslim. And definitely no mention of what proportion of that population is made of ex-patriot British people. Quite a high proportion I suspect.

In Brussels, the top seven baby boys’ names recently were Mohamed, Adam, Rayan, Ayoub, Mehdi, Amine and Hamza.

But let’s put that in perspective from the BBC report

Is 25% of the Belgian population Muslim, as the video asserts? No. The Belgian office of statistics points to a 2008 study which suggests the real figure is just 6%.

And so on. The Telegraph article mentions the fact that the US Air Force commissioned a study to examine the possible implications of Muslim population growth within Europe. It estimated in 2006 that there were 15 million Muslims in Europe, maybe as many as 23 million. To put that in persepective, the EU population in 2005 was over 450 million. So Muslims are considerably less than 10% of the population, 5% at most. The fact that the US Air Force commissioned a study is presented as significant, as opposed to the standard type of analysis and planning that goes on by every military. It means nothing. As for the report commissioned by the US Air Force itself, the contradictory nature of the following sentence gives an indication of how seriously we should take it.

“Faced with rapidly growing, disenfranchised and increasingly politically empowered Muslim populations within the borders of some of its oldest and strongest allies, the US could be faced with ever stronger challenges to its Middle East foreign policies.”

I’m no fan of political Islam. Or mixing politics with any other type of religion. Any mixing of religion and politics is inherently reactionary, although the extreme forms of political Islam are among the most reactionary politics in the world today. However, as far as I am aware, there are no Islamists anywhere in Parliament in any European Union country. There is no Islamist bloc in the European Parliament. And there are certainly no Islamist parties acting as partners in government. We cannot, however, say the same of the extreme right who are seeking to exploit fears of Muslims with the type of video referred to in the BBC report. If there is a threat to European norms and values today, it comes from that source, not from political Islam, and certainly not from Muslims in general.

In other words then, a Muslim Europe is pure fantasy, the fear-cum-pornography of the extreme right. Nothing more and nothing less. We must expose it for what it is.

UPDATE: This thread from P.ie has a lot of useful links about the same issue.

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“I was chosen to defend, maintain and continue to perfect socialism, not to destroy it”

August 2, 2009

A bold message from Raul Castro in response to demands from the US that changes be made in Cuba before moves to ending the embargo can begin. Great to see that the determination of the Communist Party of Cuba to defend and improve upon the gains of the revolution remains as strong as ever.

Cedar Lounge Revolution Post on elections and the left

August 1, 2009

I’ve just put up a post on why the left in NI needs to contest elections despite the fact they result in a guaranteed kicking over at Cedar Lounge Revolution should anyone be interested.