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Points of Contestation

Reader comment on item: Muslim Europe

Submitted by Randy McDonald (Canada), May 11, 2004 at 21:33

I'd like to contest Mr. Pipes' four points:

The hollowing out of Christianity. Europe is increasingly a post-Christian society, one with a diminishing connection to its tradition and its historic values. The numbers of believing, observant Christians has collapsed in the past two generations to the point that some observers call it the "new dark continent." Already, analysts estimate Britain's mosques host more worshippers each week than does the Church of England.

This doesn't mean all that much. It simply means that there are more practising Muslims than there are Anglicans; a change, to be sure. Given how people of Anglican identity in England outnumber people of Muslim identity twenty-to-one, it isn't much of a change.

An anemic birth rate. Indigenous Europeans are dying out. Sustaining a population requires each woman on average to bear 2.1 children; in the European Union, the overall rate is one-third short, at 1.5 a woman, and falling. One study finds that, should current population trends continue and immigration cease, today's population of 375 million could decline to 275 million by 2075.To keep its working population even, the E.U. needs 1.6 million immigrants a year; to sustain the present workers-to-retirees ratio requires an astonishing 13.5 million immigrants annually.

This means more, but given how Lutz has emphasized in that work how the birth rate is underestimated because of tempo effect, and how the IIASA has done more research predicting a radical demographic transition in the entire world including Muslim worlds elsewhere, I'm not sure what it means. Current worker-to-retiree ratios are unsustainable generally.

Muslim modernization. For reasons no one has quite figured out (education of women? abortion on demand? adults too self-absorbed to have children ?), modernity leads to a drastic reduction in the birth rate. Also, were the Muslim world to modernize, the attraction of moving to Europe would diminish.

The Muslim world is modernizing, and that in Turkey, Lebanon, and Tunisia--all countries sending immigrants to France--fertility rates have dropped below replacement levels. As well, Algeria and Morocco are also moving down that path quite quickly despite being poor and underdeveloped countries. In a generation's time, a birth dearth in the Muslim world as in the former Soviet bloc may be quite possible, with the exception being that unlike all but the worst parts of the former Soviet bloc no one will be trying to get in.

As for Muslim modernization, international migration seems to be conducted mainly by ambitious people who want to improve themselves and have the resources needed to launch themselves. If the Middle East modernized, it could increase a propensity to migration.

Immigration from other sources. Latin Americans, being Christian, would more or less permit Europe to keep its historic identity. Hindus and Chinese would increase the diversity of cultures, making it less likely that Islam would dominate.

As it happens, European countries do receive diverse immigration. In Spain, for instance, only one-third of migrants are from Muslim countries; the majority of the immigrants coming to Italy, Portugal, Greece, Germany, and central Europe are not Muslim. France is at the higher end, with 70% being Muslim, but this is from a broad swathe of territory stretching from Anatolia to the West African interior.

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