Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Will Europe Eventually Become Muslim?

That thesis is one we have talked about here in discussing the George Wiegel and Mark Steyn books, and linking to Brussels Journal and Demography Matters. I thought you should have another side of that story. Richard John Neuhaus over at First Things discusses Phillip Jenkins series of books on the matter, which take a much less alarmist point-of-view.
But alarm about population change is an old story. Jenkins writes: “A century ago, European thinkers were deeply disturbed about the racial degeneration of their populations, as population decline among the best stock threatened to leave the future to outsiders and lesser breeds. Prophecies that Islam would overwhelm Christian Europe also have a long history, and the predictions carry heavy ideological agendas.” Throughout the book, on population and other worrying developments, Jenkins suggests that we’ve been here before and things did not turn out so badly as many had predicted.

Nations can handle large minorities, he notes. For instance, if we count African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians as minorities, 30 percent of the U.S. population today is minority, and it will probably be 50 percent by 2050. Eight to 10 percent of France today is Muslim, and the figure is about 5 percent if you take Europe as a whole. Moreover, more than a third of the Muslims are not immigrants but long-established populations in countries such as Bulgaria, Albania, and the former Yugoslavia. Then, too, many Muslim young people are as rapidly secularizing as their Christian counterparts.
Neuhaus does not fully agree with Jenkins on this, but the points are well-taken. Even though Brussels, Rotterdam, suburban Paris, and Malmo may have become largely immigrant Muslim, and correspondingly violent and unenculturated, the graph of how it proceeds from here may not be the hockey-stick we fear. It's good to get another side.

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