21 June, 2018

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Politics Getting Nuttier: Muslim Fertility Myths And Misplaced Polygamy Advocacy

By Rajan Philips

Rajan Philips

Rajan Philips

Apparently the paranoia about Muslim population growth began with a 2009 YouTube video on Muslim Demographics. The seven and a half minute video was produced in Europe to frighten the Europeans about an impending takeover of their continent in a matter of decades by hordes of immigrant Muslims. The chimera of Eurabia was born and the myth of Islamic fecundity was implanted in racially receptive minds. Of the latter, there are millions around the world. The YouTube skit received 10 million hits in a matter of months and seems to have finally plateaued at about 15 million hits. 10-15 millions, even if a huge majority of them are racists and not the curious, are a small drop in the world population of seven billions. Yet they can make a splash and create a sensation. And they have. A Vatican Cardinal got into trouble after showing the scurrilous video to a synod of Catholic Bishops in Rome.

The ripples eventually reached Sri Lanka’s shores and have poisoned the already muddied inland political waters. The irrational fear of Muslim expansion is what is said to have been feeding the frenzy of Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and others of its ilk. A crude and half-clever manifestation of the same stupid sentiment recently surfaced in Jaffna, in a popular talk at the Jaffna University by an outside medical professional. It had to be an outside person because whatever the University of Jaffna might be lacking in, it has never been short of good geography professors all of whom are knowledgeable and responsible in dealing with demographics. The presentation displayed population growth numbers to demonstrate the supposedly high Muslim fertility in Sri Lanka in comparison to the fertility of others. The Tamils apparently are the least fertile and are on the verge of becoming endangered species even in the peninsula of their birth. But, here comes the clever part, the Tamils should not be critical of their Muslim brothers; rather, they should emulate their methods. The Tamils, and now the crudeness, must go back to the old practices of polygamy to fulfill the natural needs of their war widows and compensate for the loss of population during the war. God, whatever your religion is, help all of us!

The reader will bear with me for starting off on a polemical hype. I must also make it clear that it is not my purpose to castigate the good doctor who made the bad presentation. Apart from my faithfulness to the Augustinian principle: love the man, hate the error, I am conscious of the fact that those in public service in Jaffna (bar, of course, the reappointed Governor and the irremovable Chief Secretary, who are not in public service but in the service of the Rajapaksa government) are struggling under the most trying circumstances and with the least support from the government. They deserve one’s understanding even when they stray out of their professional guiderails to make public policy pronouncements that are not only indefensible but are also offensive. No such slack though to the BBSes of Sri Lanka for they go beyond making presentations; they go on to provoke, agitate and terrorize. They owe their being to, and provide a smokescreen for, the government. That said, let me deal with the two matters that are the substantive purpose of this article: ethnic populations and their implications for women.

Ethnic Populations

In 2009, it did not take long for others to realize and refute the YouTube video on Muslim Demographics as a pack of half-truths and lies. But the video has done its damage. It was three years later, in 2012, that the Vatican Cardinal apparently saw some educational merit in it before being put right by fellow Cardinals and Bishops. The ripple effects are still doing the rounds in Sri Lanka. The spectre that the video was trying to unleash was that the Muslims would be a majority in much of Europe in a matter of decades. The premise for this fear was the claim that 90% of the population growth in all of Europe in the last two decades was accounted for by immigrant Muslims. This was a half-truth. Immigration did account for 90% of European growth, but all immigration and not just of the Muslims. The video’s claims for individual countries were blatant lies. To wit, the video proclaimed that France would be an Islamic Republic in 39 years (nice enough number to feign a rigorous methodology), but the fact is the proportion of Muslims will rise gradually from 7.2% to 10.2% over 20 years (2010 to 2030, an annual rate of 0.15%). And without any basis and flouting all available evidence, the video claimed that the average non-Muslim French family has 1.8 children, whereas the average Muslim French family has 8.1 (again, a nice digital transposition). Of Netherlands where Muslims account for 5% of the population, the video said that one half of all newborns are Muslims, which would leave Muslim women producing 14 times more babies than everyone else. Belgium was claimed to have 25% Muslims, but the actual figure is 6%. The video baselessly attributed to the Vice President of the German Federal Statistics Office, a quote that Germany “will be a Muslim state in 2050.”  Walter Radermacher, the then VP and now Chief Statistics Officer for the EU, called the quote attributed to him, “an invention”!

Within two years of the Muslim-spectre video making waves, in January 2011, the Washington based Pew Research Centre (a non-profit organization whose origins go back to the philanthropic foundation established by the Anglo-American Pew family in Philadelphia) produced a methodologically rigorous report, entitled “The Future of the Global Muslim Population.” Two years later (December 2012), Pew produced what should be read as a companion report, “Global Religious Landscape.” These documents are available on the internet, of course without the sensationalizing music and images of the YouTube video on Muslim Demographics, and anyone intelligently browsing through them would realize that the whole Muslim expansion scare is a load of horse-dung hype. Not surprisingly, the believers of the YouTube video (and still there are, including those in Sri Lanka), have called the Pew report an exercise in “whitewashing” – of the Muslim spectre.

The truth of the matter is that the Muslim population has been growing at a faster rate (not a hugely faster rate) in recent decades than others (2.3% vs 1.4%), but that rate has already begun to slow down (1.2% vs 0.6%) and will continue to slow down. Further, the current religious distribution of the world population is not going to change significantly, nor will the religious (or ethnic) distribution of populations in individual countries. The current (2010) world population of 6.9 billion includes 2.2 billion (32%) Christians (half of them Catholics), 1.6 billion (23%) Muslims, 1.1 billion (16%) “unaffiliated” to any religion, 1 billion (15%) Hindus, 500 million (7%) Buddhists, and so on in that decreasing order.  The 2030 projections show that the Muslim component could grow from 1.6 billion to 2.2 billion, from a share of 23.4% to 26.4% of the total world population. Not the stuff for anyone to lose their sleep over, let alone to think of stemming Muslim growth or producing polygamous non-Muslim babies.

It would be nutty for anyone to think of projecting beyond 2030 or 2040, to a hypothetical long term when the Muslims may overtake the Christians in the world population. Worse still would be to search for a mythical millennial horizon when the Muslims may just top the 50% mark! If you want to play with numbers, go somewhere else. Leave demographics alone and don’t stretch it beyond its methodological limits. Remember also the old wisdom of Keynes: “in the long run we are all dead”! And when we are all dead, the world might become a better place with a majority of “unaffiliates”!

What could rationally be done is to look at the reasons for the current differential growth rates between the Muslim and non-Muslim populations. Separating Muslims and non-Muslims is itself problematic, as it smacks of neo-colonialism and a new version of Orientalism. Be that as it may. The main reasons for the growth differences are that the Muslims now have a higher proportion of young age-cohorts (the so called “youth bulge” in the age-sex population-pyramid, of 15-29 year olds), and that the main contributions to Muslim population increases are occurring in a few large Muslim countries and among sections of the population who are at relatively lower levels of income and educations. All of these factors have been previously experienced by other religious or ethnic groups, which the Muslims are going through now. The difference is that the Muslims are being made to go through this growth phase in the glare of globalization and against a backdrop of anti-Muslim jingoism.

The unmistakable trend among the Muslims, as it has been among others, is that the youth bulge is starting to shrink, the median age is starting to rise (19 years in 1990, 24 in 2010, and projected to 30 in 2030; by comparison the median age – that divides the population equally into younger and older age groups, is 40 among the Europeans and in Japan), and the birth rate is slowing down in Muslim countries and among sections of Muslim societies with rising levels of living standards and education. The prime example is Indonesia, at present the largest Muslim country in the world with a population of 204M, is experiencing a slower growth rate (1.87% annually) and is projected to grow by 35M to a population of 239M in 2030.  In contrast, Pakistan with a higher growth rate (2.25%) will grow from 176M in 2010 to 256M in 2030, adding 80M in between, and surpassing Indonesia as the largest Muslim country. Nigeria, with even lower levels of living standards and education, has the highest birth rate (2.7%) among its Muslims. The trend, to repeat, is for Pakistan and Nigeria to follow Indonesia and not the other way around.

Overall, there are 70 countries in the world now, with more than one million Muslims. This number will increase to 76 countries in 2030. Big deal! Again, just 10 ten countries account for 63% of the world’s total Muslim population. The four largest are in Asia: Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. That three of them are in South Asia should not irrationally concern the Hindus in India and the Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka. The Muslims have a lower growth rate in India (1.66%), and lower still in Bangladesh (1.32%).  In fact, Bangladesh, like Turkey, officially promotes family planning and birth control among its population. That should put to rest the myth that the higher Muslim birth rate has something to do with Islam. The Pew Research study has shown, as I have summarized here, that the factors affecting birth rates are mostly material and hardly spiritual. Sri Lanka is one of the seven countries in the world with a majority of Buddhists, and it will remain so without requiring any special reinforcement by the State or by its BBS proxy. As for the Tamils in Sri Lanka, their problems are different but they do not require resorting to so called polygamous practices to be politically relevant.

*To be continued next week

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Latest comments

  • 5
    0

    .
    There are 1.6 billion Muslims and 16 million Jews around the world.
    But Jews call the shots. Population size doesn’t matter.

    :-)

    • 2
      2

      aratai

      “There are 1.6 billion Muslims and 16 million Jews around the world.

      The Jews Get lost of Nobel prizes as Well.

      The curse of the Mullahs, Ulemas and Wahhabis..

      The Erosion of Progress by Religions -Naming Rights

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oxTMUTOz0w

      Uploaded on Sep 3, 2010
      Neil deGrasse Tyson, an American astrophysicist and Director of the Hayden Planetarium, discusses how Islamic fundamentalist destroyed the enlightenment era of the Middle East and why we should be concerned today.

  • 1
    3

    Dear Rajan Philips,

    Thank you. The truth Prevails. We know what the truth was at Aluthgama as well. Yes, the Church could NOT make the Sun go around the Earth.

    1, “The truth of the matter is that the Muslim population has been growing at a faster rate (not a hugely faster rate) in recent decades than others (2.3% vs 1.4%), but that rate has already begun to slow down (1.2% vs 0.6%) and will continue to slow down.”

    ” the factors affecting birth rates are mostly material and hardly spiritual.”

    2. Yes: The Lies, Lies and Lies Given Below

    “In 2009, it did not take long for others to realize and refute the YouTube video on Muslim Demographics as a pack of half-truths and lies. But the video has done its damage. It was three years later, in 2012, that the Vatican Cardinal apparently saw some educational merit in it before being put right by fellow Cardinals and Bishops. The ripple effects are still doing the rounds in Sri Lanka. The spectre that the video was trying to unleash was that the Muslims would be a majority in much of Europe in a matter of decades. The premise for this fear was the claim that 90% of the population growth in all of Europe in the last two decades was accounted for by immigrant Muslims. This was a half-truth. Immigration did account for 90% of European growth, but all immigration and not just of the Muslims. The video’s claims for individual countries were blatant lies. To wit, the video proclaimed that France would be an Islamic Republic in 39 years (nice enough number to feign a rigorous methodology), but the fact is the proportion of Muslims will rise gradually from 7.2% to 10.2% over 20 years (2010 to 2030, an annual rate of 0.15%).”

    3. Yes, The Truth, The Truth and Truth, given Below.

    Within two years of the Muslim-spectre video making waves, in January 2011, the Washington based Pew Research Centre (a non-profit organization whose origins go back to the philanthropic foundation established by the Anglo-American Pew family in Philadelphia) produced a methodologically rigorous report, entitled “The Future of the Global Muslim Population.” Two years later (December 2012), Pew produced what should be read as a companion report, “Global Religious Landscape.” These documents are available on the internet, of course without the sensationalizing music and images of the YouTube video on Muslim Demographics, and anyone intelligently browsing through them would realize that the whole Muslim expansion scare is a load of horse-dung hype. Not surprisingly, the believers of the YouTube video (and still there are, including those in Sri Lanka), have called the Pew report an exercise in “whitewashing” – of the Muslim spectre.

    4. “The Pew Research study has shown, as I have summarized here, that the factors affecting birth rates are mostly material and hardly spiritual. Sri Lanka is one of the seven countries in the world with a majority of Buddhists, and it will remain so without requiring any special reinforcement by the State or by its BBS proxy. As for the Tamils in Sri Lanka, their problems are different but they do not require resorting to so called polygamous practices to be politically relevant.”

  • 3
    2

    An excellent article dispelling the myths! Polygamy, an ecstasy resorted to by males in the feudal society is certainly not the way to correct the gender imbalance in the Tamil society of the North East of Sri Lanka. The present proportion of 89 females to 100 males there is low but not too low! This imbalance will automatically get corrected over the next few decades. What is really needed is a decent and dignified way of rehabilitating the 80,000 war widows in the North East, reducing infantile mortality, improving nutrition and general health of the children there and so on and not reverting to feudalist polygamy!

    The Tamils, especially the diaspora can contribute a lot to achieve these noble goals in double quick time!

    Sengodan. M

    • 0
      0

      reducing infantile mortality

      —-

      This is has already come down remarkably. Unfortunately I cannot quote the news item where I read about it. You can thank MR for that but that’s too much to expect no eh?

  • 6
    2

    This is indeed an objective analysis of some fact about Muslim population growth. I would like add some more points to this. It is a firm Muslim faith that God alone gives food provision in life. Human life is in a sense already predestined by God. This does not mean man sits idle doing nothing to make a living and yet, Man can not play around with nature. Birth control for fear of want and poverty is not allowed in Islam because It is God who provides food and livelihood.
    A family planning in an unnatural way, killing fetus in wombs are Haram in Islam: Millions of abortions are carried out in India and China. The ratio gap between male and female is increasing in India and China. Males in China find it hard to find partners. Same thing would happen to our country as well if we play around with nature or try to meddle with nature.
    I agree with this writer that it is religious faith that contribute to this population increase.
    yet, the same religious faith of other religions contribute to the population decrease in other community. take for instance, Buddhism it prohibits Buddhist monks to marry. you may say it is only less 1% of Buddhists are monks and yet, this contributes slightly for the decrease of population in a long run. if you assume that there+ are 400.000 thousands monks today and they are not allowed to marry. This monk population in each generation will not be able to contribute for population growth of Sinhalese. Hence, naturally Buddhist population bound to decrease slowly for this reason.This could be minimal and yet, this could contribute in a long run.

    For this reason, Buddhist people should rethink about their religious teaching on this matter. perhaps to give permission for monks to marry. This applies to some Christian denominations as well.
    secondly. today, most of Sinhalese couples are working: Husband and wife go to work. whatever these racists BBS say. those working class people can not produce lots of children: it would be burden on ladies to work and lead family life. Most women want to have one or two children. That is why they can not have big families. This applies to western communities more than Sri Lankan communities. People in churches are too much worried about Christian population decline in western countries and yet, they can not help.
    Moreover, when women are working they delay marriage age. some girls who go to higher education and employment delay marriage. This is very much common in Tamil and Sinhalese communities: Tamil community is little bit complex in this regard.
    It is pathetic. please go through some of matrimonial in News papers: due to cast system girls beyond 30 or 35 years old girls do not get married in Tamil community. Hence naturally fertility in Tamil community would go down and it is pointless to blame others for your own faults. get rid of this barbaric caste system and this Tamil girls will have good life: In India if a Husband dies wife has to burn herself. In Sri Lanka too divorcee Tamil ladies will have to go though hard times to remarry second time. It is said Tamil should follow polygamy in marriage to increase population. what a stupid idea is this. you can not copy one cultural life style of other community to do this. first of all, No Muslim in Sri Lankan follow polygamy in marriage: it is only apply in some African and gulf countries. There are some condition attached to this polygamy: you should be financially better off, you should get first wife permission to do and you should be able treat all equally and there some other conditions. I do not think Tamil ladies would be ready for these? yet, polygamy would not increase population rather it would increase: you Tamils people are good maths and you should try to figure it out. I would not tell you how and why?
    moreover, Buddhist population is decreasing for another reason: that is to say that a large numbers of Buddhist have been converted into Christianity and still are being converted here in Sri Lanka and Abroad. There some fascinating researches on this subject please read them all before you talk about it.

    It is said that Sinhalese constitutes 74% of Sri Lankan population and it is over exaggerated figure. If you minus Sinhalese Christians Sinhalese Buddhists would be around 65% in Sri Lanka. even if you minus some of those who migrated to western countries I do not think that their next generations would come pure Buddhists as these monks think. Consider for instance, Sinhalese who migrated to Europe most of them today eat Meat. within next two or three generations they would not be Buddhists rather they would be someone else : it could be atheists or agnostics or humanists or Muslims as it happen all over the world. such social changes are taking place around the globe and yet, some of these Buddhists live within four walls of a deep well.

    Furthermore, family life in Muslim community is little bit different from other community: most of Non-Muslim people drink alcohol: No doubt alcohol destroys a peaceful family life: how could a lady live peacefully with a husband who is alcoholic and Peace will be shattered in those families: Thousands of alcoholic husbands beat their wives when they are drunken. How can these families have lots of children. How could these family bring up good children: how many families are destroyed by this and yet, you can tell comparatively alcoholism is less among Muslims here in Sri Lanka and abroad. this contribute growth of population in Muslim communities. It is argued that one of best institute in Islam is the institution family in Islam: a lots of rules and regulations are stipulated in Islam about family life: hundreds of laws about maintenance, marriage allowance, inheritance and divorces. The institution of family is divinely inspired in Islam. That is why Muslims care about it and this contribute in increase of population as well.
    One more point. yet, to say that Sinhalese population is decreasing is a really myth. statistics show that it is increasing. but slower than Muslim population: one reason it may be because, farmers in Sinhalese villages are not doing birth control and they have big families and they are very much close to nature and they do not play around with nature. Thanks to them but it is not so called Sinhalese monk or high profile Sinhalese in Colombo and cities who protect Sinhalese race rather poor farmers. it is with great difficulties and hardship that they contribute to the growth and yet, politicians in Colombo do play with their life, cut their subsidiaries and do not help them at all. rather during election time the political parties go to them and beg for their votes and after election they are forgotten. This is Lankan story in politics. Those monks who speak out today they speak for politics not for Sinhalese race. They use race, religion for their own gain.

  • 4
    2

    This is indeed an objective analysis of some facts about Muslim population growth. I would like to add some more points to this. It is a firm Muslim faith that God alone gives food provision in life. Human life is in a sense already predestined by God. This does not mean man sits idle doing nothing to make a living and yet, Man can not play around with nature. Birth control for fear of want and poverty is not allowed in Islam because It is God who provides food and livelihood.
    A family planning in an unnatural way, killing fetus in wombs are Haram in Islam: Millions of abortions are carried out in India and China. The ratio gap between male and female is increasing in India and China. Males in China find it hard to find partners. Same thing would happen to our country as well if we play around with nature or try to meddle with nature.
    I agree with this writer that it is religious faith that contribute to this population increase.
    yet, the same religious faith of other religions contribute to the population decrease in other community. take for instance, Buddhism it prohibits Buddhist monks to marry. you may say it is only less 1% of Buddhists are monks and yet, this contributes slightly for the decrease of population in a long run. if you assume that there+ are 400.000 thousands monks today and they are not allowed to marry. This monk population in each generation will not be able to contribute for population growth of Sinhalese. Hence, naturally Buddhist population bound to decrease slowly for this reason.This could be minimal and yet, this could contribute in a long run.

    For this reason, Buddhist people should rethink about their religious teaching on this matter. perhaps to give permission for monks to marry. This applies to some Christian denominations as well.
    secondly. today, most of Sinhalese couples are working: Husband and wife go to work. whatever these racists BBS say. those working class people can not produce lots of children: it would be burden on ladies to work and lead family life. Most women want to have one or two children. That is why they can not have big families. This applies to western communities more than Sri Lankan communities. People in churches are too much worried about Christian population decline in western countries and yet, they can not help.
    Moreover, when women are working they delay marriage age. some girls who go to higher education and employment delay marriage. This is very much common in Tamil and Sinhalese communities: Tamil community is little bit complex in this regard.
    It is pathetic. please go through some of matrimonial in News papers: due to cast system girls beyond 30 or 35 years old girls do not get married in Tamil community. Hence naturally fertility in Tamil community would go down and it is pointless to blame others for your own faults. get rid of this barbaric caste system and this Tamil girls will have good life: In India if a Husband dies wife has to burn herself. In Sri Lanka too divorcee Tamil ladies will have to go though hard times to remarry second time. It is said Tamil should follow polygamy in marriage to increase population. what a stupid idea is this. you can not copy one cultural life style of other community to do this. first of all, No Muslim in Sri Lankan follow polygamy in marriage: it is only apply in some African and gulf countries. There are some condition attached to this polygamy: you should be financially better off, you should get first wife permission to do and you should be able treat all equally and there some other conditions. I do not think Tamil ladies would be ready for these? yet, polygamy would not increase population rather it would increase: you Tamils people are good maths and you should try to figure it out. I would not tell you how and why?
    moreover, Buddhist population is decreasing for another reason: that is to say that a large numbers of Buddhist have been converted into Christianity and still are being converted here in Sri Lanka and Abroad. There some fascinating researches on this subject please read them all before you talk about it.

    It is said that Sinhalese constitutes 74% of Sri Lankan population and it is over exaggerated figure. If you minus Sinhalese Christians Sinhalese Buddhists would be around 65% in Sri Lanka. even if you minus some of those who migrated to western countries I do not think that their next generations would come pure Buddhists as these monks think. Consider for instance, Sinhalese who migrated to Europe most of them today eat Meat. within next two or three generations they would not be Buddhists rather they would be someone else : it could be atheists or agnostics or humanists or Muslims as it happen all over the world. such social changes are taking place around the globe and yet, some of these Buddhists live within four walls of a deep well.

    Furthermore, family life in Muslim community is little bit different from other community: most of Non-Muslim people drink alcohol: No doubt alcohol destroys a peaceful family life: how could a lady live peacefully with a husband who is alcoholic and Peace will be shattered in those families: Thousands of alcoholic husbands beat their wives when they are drunken. How can these families have lots of children. How could these family bring up good children: how many families are destroyed by this and yet, you can tell comparatively alcoholism is less among Muslims here in Sri Lanka and abroad. this contribute growth of population in Muslim communities. It is argued that one of best institute in Islam is the institution family in Islam: a lots of rules and regulations are stipulated in Islam about family life: hundreds of laws about maintenance, marriage allowance, inheritance and divorces. The institution of family is divinely inspired in Islam. That is why Muslims care about it and this contribute in increase of population as well.
    One more point. yet, to say that Sinhalese population is decreasing is a really myth. statistics show that it is increasing. but slower than Muslim population: one reason it may be because, farmers in Sinhalese villages are not doing birth control and they have big families and they are very much close to nature and they do not play around with nature. Thanks to them but it is not so called Sinhalese monk or high profile Sinhalese in Colombo and cities who protect Sinhalese race rather poor farmers. it is with great difficulties and hardship that they contribute to the growth and yet, politicians in Colombo do play with their life, cut their subsidiaries and do not help them at all. rather during election time the political parties go to them and beg for their votes and after election they are forgotten. This is Lankan story in politics. Those monks who speak out today they speak for politics not for Sinhalese race. They use race, religion for their own gain.

  • 3
    1

    Number of children is directly related to education level and lifestyle. Educated professionals where both husband and wife work have less children. Also we are concerned about quality of life and education of our children not numbers.

    However this will not satisfy the pyschopaths like Ranawaka and Gandasara who are bent on wreaking havoc in society with their twisted mentality and racist approach.

  • 2
    1

    But in Srilanka Muslim population growth rate is higher (healthier) at 1.90% which is higher than both India and Bangladesh!

    The north and the east of SL are traditional Muslim homelands which is now a proven fact. The north and east of Sri Lanka overlooks large Islamic countries which proves it.

    • 0
      3

      Forget the mind boggling arguments and the poll figures!

      If you cannot see it from your own eyes, just walk to any Grama Sewaka of any wasama and ask him as to how many children an average Muslim family has and then compare it with the number of children of Sinhala and Tamil families have. Muslims have twice as many children as Sinhalas and Tamils. No wonder Muslims run out of space every few years.

  • 0
    0

    Good write up. But Rajan Philips misses these points in his article.

    1. Family planning started by muslims are in muslim countries like pakistan, indonesia and bangladesh which are like 100% muslim. That is different to muslims elsewhere and even ones living in Non Muslim countries.

    2. Yes muslim growth rate has reduced. But that is useless without looking at the growth rate of non muslims.

  • 0
    0

    Read a full article on this subject in Srilankan guardian today.

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