05 November 2009

Petits français

For many years jihadists have dreamed, and defenders of Western values have feared, that the Muslim minorities in western Europe would someday overwhelm the indigenous peoples and Islamize the region. Even though Muslim minorities in Europe are not very large (by far the biggest is in France, amounting to 8% of the total population), their higher birth rates and resistance to cultural assimilation led to panicked predictions of future Muslim majorities in some countries, often within absurdly-short time spans.

Paris-based writer Simon Kuper recently took an updated look at this problem, and found a very different picture. First, Muslim minorities in Eruope have not proven immune to the demographic transition which has swept the Third World and more recently arrived even in the Islamic lands:

In Belleville you see women of Arab ­origin pushing prams. But you also see the white French artistic couples who have recently colonised the neighbourhood pushing Bugaboo ­strollers. That Muslims are grinding out babies ready to take over Europe is an outdated canard. The Eurabia authors worry about declining ­European fertility, but in fact the Muslim decline is much sharper. In 1970, women in Algeria and Tunisia averaged about seven children each. Now, according to the CIA World Factbook, they average fewer than 1.8. The French rate is almost exactly two.....At last count Algerian women living in France averaged an estimated 2.57 children, or only slightly above the French rate. Moreover, the fertility rate of north African women in France has been falling since 1981. Eurabia is not a demographic prospect.

(Yes, you read that right -- the fertility rate in Algeria and Tunisia is now lower than the French rate, which mostly reflects the rate of the non-Muslim 92% of France's population.) I have noted this phenomenon before in connection with Denmark (see also here and here). In western Europe as a whole, the indigenous birth rates have crept upward a bit (following a similar pattern to the US a decade or two earlier, where birth rates fell and then rose again, apparently due to career women postponing childbearing), while Muslim birth rates have plummeted. The indigenous and Muslim rates are converging; soon the differences between them will be negligible. Even then, Muslims will produce a disproportionate percentage of the children in each country for a while, because a larger proportion of the Muslim population is in its young-adult child-producing years while the indigenous population is older, but eventually this effect too will disappear.

Even more important and more hopeful is Kuper's second major observation: the Muslim population in western Europe is proving much more susceptible to assimilation than previously thought. Obviously this phenomenon is much more difficult to quantify than birth rates, but the pattern seems clear:

Probably less than 5 per cent of French Muslims attend mosque every Friday.....Farhad Khosrokhavar, director of research at France’s Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, estimates that 15 to 20 per cent of French Muslims do not practise Islam at all......Poverty, not religion, is the main preoccupation of French nominal Muslims, polls consistently show. In a survey by the Pew Research Center in 2006, for instance, 52 per cent of French Muslims said they were “very worried” about unemployment. Only about a fifth said the same about the decline of religion or the influence of pop culture. Few French Muslims profess to care much about foreign political issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.....

Laouati told me her parental home was like a “little Algeria”. But Dreux Arabs younger than her had become “petits français”, she said. “They are much better integrated. They know very little of Maghrebian languages. They all watch French TV. Arab TV would bore them to death.”....Muslims in France consistently report strong identification with France. In a poll in 2005 by the US state department, for instance, 95 per cent expressed a favourable overall opinion of France. In a Gallup poll two years later, 46 per cent of Parisian Muslims said they identified “very strongly” or “extremely strongly” with France – exactly the same percentage as those in the national population.

You need to read Kuper's entire article to get a full sense of what he's talking about. It's clear that religion is still far stronger among European Muslims than among the post-Christian mainstream societies; but it is much weaker than it was among those Muslims' ancestors when they arrived in Europe, and much weaker than the Eurabia alarmists thought it could become. There is a great deal of muddled talk about building an identity "both Muslim and French", but this is a typical transitional phase, comforting to people who are on the way to full assimilation but prefer to believe otherwise. And as Kuper notes, Sarkozy's administration is taking a far more active role in enforcing assimilation than its predecessors did.

The logical end-point of the assimilation process, of course, is de-Islamization -- giving up Islam entirely. This is even harder to quantify, since writers tend to reflexively classify anyone whose parents or grandparents were Muslim as being a Muslim, regard- less of what he actually believes or doesn't believe. Nevertheless, de-Islamization is happening and is even becoming visible, at least in Britain, despite the obvious danger from hard-liners (Islamic law mandates the death penalty for anyone who leaves Islam).

None of this is to deny the fact that Islam in Europe presents a real danger. It has brought terrorist attacks, riots, and an upsurge in violent crime in nations where such crime used to be rare (though all these problems seem to have subsided somewhat over the last few years, partly due to crackdowns by exasperated Europeans). Civilized legal systems are being confronted with sick medieval barbarities like honor killings and clitorectomy, and in many cases have been shamefully timid in opposing such things. Militant Muslims are evolving into a social force similar to our Christian Right, demanding official recognition of barbaric religious law and threatening the rights of homosexuals and women, and opposing secularism in general; on this phenomenon, see here and here.

But the demographic tide is turning. Militant Muslims in Europe are shrinking to a hard core of the most assimilation-resistant. Like some militant Christian fundamentalists in the US, they may actually become even more deranged and violent and dangerous as they realize that their dream of becoming the dominant force in society has been irrevocably dashed. European governments must, and probably will, take a far tougher line with them. But they are, and will remain, a manageable problem, not the bringers of the apocalypse.

The point is that Muslims in Europe are reacting pretty much like people from a backward society normally react when they are plunged into a far more advanced and attractive culture; over time they absorb that culture, and are absorbed by it. The process has been slower than with immigrants in the US, partly because Islam makes Muslims resistant to assimilation and partly because European countries lack our experience with large waves of very culturally-different immigrants and are less geared to assimilating them. But in the end the result will be the same.


Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

What I found interesting here is the stat's on birth rate's, which I dont know much about, as well as what you pointed out at the end about assimilation ... and especially another point I havent thought of much about OUR experience over some other nation when it come's to blending culture's/people's ...I mean...I must admit...we have certainly, had a hell of a variety here! And been doing this for quite awhile.

I know a arabic muslim fella here in Dallas from Morocco. I noticed he fast's with his other friend's that do during Ramadan, yet I dont hear him talk much religion...and I would be shocked to see this guy worshipping in a mosque frankly. Maybe he does..I dont know...but I know he is a party animal,spend's most of his free time and money in club's getting smashed(drunk)and chasing any gal that even walk's by! But when I'm around Dale and them during Ramadan sunrise to sundown period... I wont eat in front of them (we all ate free and worked together and I was the only non muslim, or even American out of about 10 of us)out of just common respect from one man to another.I have been told a couple time's..."eat ... we dont mind" But I dont because to me...it just is pushing the food in their faces...so I just leave for a few and grab a bite alone...or with the mexican's who are the other's I worked with. But it seem's the fasting is more like a cultural thing almost, even though I know it is meant to be religious, if that make's any sense. But Dale...this one I started talking about, lived in Paris before Dallas... and one night he was BMB-ing(bitch,moan, bellyache) that he's sick of Dallas and is going to leave, he was a valet park guy who had to fetch car's all night for folk's having a night on the town.I asked what the problem was? He said "Dallas dont give out nothing man ... I'm sick of this shit, I even have to pay to ride the subway/train here...pay for college and everything, in Paris .. all that was free!". Yes ... he is not the only arab muslim here who told me that. They say that in Paris ... all that is free .. and yes..even their college education and more..and even a couple told me they recieved free car's from the government.Nope ...Dallas dont give much of nothing for free actually.

Thanx ...........

05 November, 2009 07:52  
Anonymous Nick M said...

"Even then, Muslims will produce a disproportionate percentage of the children in each country for a while, because a larger proportion of the Muslim population is in its young-adult child-producing years while the indigenous population is older, but eventually this effect too will disappear."

Bingo. What people fail to realise is the time scales. And also that economic immigrants tend to be younger than natives on average by probably quite a margin.

As far as assimilation is concerned... Well, that's a really big and complicated question. Which I won't go into now because I think it bad ettiquette to write a comment longer than the original post!

But... I have long-suspected that the likes of the 7/7 London bombers were reacting against their brother's and sisters in Islam adopting more Western mores and standards. It's a rearguard action.

I mean to the average person of whatever background Europe looks a lot more fun than Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. Much Islamic terrorism is the desperate gasp of people who have lost but can't accept it.

Ever noticed the more histrionic anyone gets in an argument the more they have lost it?

Look at the US Christian Right's "Hell Houses" for example. I posted on that at Cats.

And moreover, your tag-line chimes with all but nutters, "If it isn't fun, what's the point?"

05 November, 2009 08:49  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

RC -- I mean...I must admit...we have certainly, had a hell of a variety here!

We in the US have been doubly lucky in that not only do we have more experience assimilating large waves of immigrants, but most of our immigrants from the Arab world have come from the Christian minority groups, which are easier to absorb. The Muslims we do get don't have huge urban zones of Islamic turf to help them avoid the surrounding culture the way Muslims in Paris do.

Nick M -- Europe looks a lot more fun than Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

Well, power-diving into a vat of pigshit while suffering from a migraine would be more fun than Saudi Arabia or Pakistan -- but yes, I agree with your point.

The details of assimilation will probably run somewhat differently in each European country -- the countries are different, and the ethnicity and culture of the Islamic community in each country is also different. I think in 20 years the end results will look pretty similar everywhere, though.

05 November, 2009 09:22  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Mr.Infidel ...question: On the part of you last comment in response to me where you pointed out about we not having the huge urban zones of islamic turf .. I reckon we dont, I mean for instance from what I may have seen in New York compared to London.What I am concerned about though ... doesnt it seem like over the last 5 year's or so...it has been building more in our country toward's that direction...and even getting more American support? Not like France or anything...but it seem's to be getting more ... how can I say ...turf or territorial? I only say this as well...because these guy's for instance that I speak of...I went to their home's which were in large apartment complexes in Richardson(an independent city in North Dallas)and I hardly seen anyone that didnt look like they were from these region's abroad, and never met any that were actaully from USA,even when I went to the local supermarket that was a large chain store...almost all the women shopping...and it was fairly busy all had head covering's.It seemes like the whole area for a few block's were all middle easterner's or something, and the complexes had several hundred's of unit's too. But of coarse...they wouldnt get support from gvmy here like some of the stuff I read in Euro countries which was unbelievable.

05 November, 2009 12:38  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

RC -- I don't think it's anything to worry about. Not even London would have given you any sense of how bad this ethno-religious enclave problem was in Paris for a while. We don't have anything like that here. They may try, but any such enclaves will quickly be broken up by the influence of the dominant culture.

05 November, 2009 13:12  
Blogger 50 said...

This is all based on the assumption that Muslim immigrants to the West want to assimilate. Islam is at war with the West and it's a demographic war being carried out through immigration and, yes, higher birth rates. Muslim immigrants are unlike any other wave of migrants that we have seen: they are not here to build a better life for themselves, they are here to colonize.

05 November, 2009 15:29  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

No, it's not based on assumptions, it's based on actual data about what is actually happening -- read the posting. Yes, Islam is at war with the West (and with all non-Islamic societies), but Islam is not the only determining factor in what individual Muslims want or do, and with most Muslims in the West its influence is growing weaker with time.

None of this should really be unexpected. Given the superiority of secular Western culture, we shouldn't be surprised at its attractive power.

05 November, 2009 17:17  

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