Demographic Trends, Terrorism Raise 'Eurabia' Fears

By Jordans, Frank | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), March 7, 2015 | Go to article overview

Demographic Trends, Terrorism Raise 'Eurabia' Fears


Jordans, Frank, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


BERLIN - The headlines would suggest Europe is under siege: Thousands of Germans march against the continent's "Islamization. French readers flock to read a novel about a Muslim president who imposes Sharia law on their country. Commentators warn darkly about an encroaching age of "Eurabia in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. But is Europe actually heading toward Islamization?

Research shows that Europe's Islamic population has indeed risen sharply over the last two decades, and continues to grow. But the numbers fall far short of any possibility of Europe becoming predominantly Muslim. And there are little signs that Islamic culture is spreading beyond the boundaries of Muslim communities - let alone becoming dominant in Europe.

The Pew Forum published research in 2011 predicting that Europe's Muslim population will almost double to nearly 57 million by 2030, from just under 30 million in 1990. That may seem like a lot, but it still means that Europe's Muslim population would only increase from 4.1 percent to 7.8 percent, according to the Pew paper. Moreover, the Pew report says that the period of greatest growth in Islamic populations is already past.

"As Muslims become more integrated, they tend to have fewer children, said Brian J. Grim, president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, who worked on the Pew report. "Based on the demographic data, Europe cannot be Islamized, if by that is meant demographic dominance.

If population trends don't point toward Islamization, could there be a cultural change with the same result? In London, Paris, Berlin and other major European cities, anti-Muslim sentiment is frequently directed against the growth of mosques, halal butchers and Islamic dress in the streets - with many seeing them as infringements on European norms.

Following major Islamist terror attacks in London and Paris, anxieties are soaring in Europe about the rapid growth of a culture that, its critics say, simply refuses to adopt the values of host countries. Ordinary people across Europe are increasingly wary of the insular-looking Islamic communities that have cropped up in major European cities, and feel that its members are hostile to the European mainstream.

A stream of news stories about homegrown Islamic youths traveling to Syria to wage jihad with Islamic State has tended to put the entire Muslim community under a pall of suspicion. Meanwhile, the attack in Paris on a Jewish supermarket following the murder spree against cartoonists at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo has caused many Jews to consider fleeing Europe and moving to Israel.

Kathrin Oertel, one of the founders of the group Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West, or PEGIDA, and one of the key figures behind the rallies in the German state of Saxony, says Muslims are eroding German cultural identity.

"In Europe, there are some countries where Islamization has gone so far that it affects the culture and life there, said Oertel, who has since left PEGIDA to form her own group.

Mainstream conservative politicians too have responded angrily to news reports of Muslims refusing to assimilate. Often they center on Muslim parents who refuse to let daughters take part in coed swimming lessons, or Muslim students insisting that a prayer room be available at a university that already has a chapel. …

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