May 2, 2009

Muslim Demographics

Warning: The above video is Islamophobic; also, it may be rather slow in streaming in.

What follows is derived from a comment I wrote on another person's diary at Daily Kos that tackles the issues raised in the above video. The purpose of the video is to show how Muslim demographics, as represented by a total fertility rate statistic (see the definition below), is changing how Europe and North America will look in the next 50 years. Of course, the producers of this video see Islam as a threat and are using the video to encourage fellow Christians to proselytize to Muslims.

The "Muslim Demographics" video presents a number of demographic statistics, primarily focusing on countries in Europe and North America, purporting to show how these countries will eventually turn Muslim. The problem with the video is that a number of the statistics presented are of a dubious quality, and the producers neglect to mention some other statistics that are relevant - and damaging - to their argument.

I have checked the total fertility rates in the CIA's World Factbook against what is claimed in the video. Most of the fertility rate statistics presented in the video are off, mostly being understated (to make matters look worse, no doubt). Below are the statistics presented in the video (first column) and per the CIA (second column):

France 1.8 - 1.98
United Kingdom 1.6 - 1.66
Greece 1.3 - 1.37
Germany 1.3 - 1.41
Italy 1.2 - 1.31
Spain 1.1 - 1.31
European Union 1.38 - 1.51

Now here's where I have problems (in part because I don't know where the producers were getting their numbers from). They give the example of France, saying that French families have a fertility rate of 1.8 children per family, but that Muslim families in France have a fertility rate of 8.1 children. However, if the Muslim population in France is so big (it isn't), then the non-Muslim fertility rate should be lower than the 1.8 presented. What that number is, off-hand, I don't know (and I'm not sure that the French national statistics bureau knows either*).

But let's ignore that and look at the real problem. According to the CIA the percentage of Muslims in France is 5-10% of the total population. OK, let's use the higher number, 10%. The US Census Bureau, which does year-by-year estimates for each country's population through the year 2050, says that France has a population in 2009 of 64,420,073; 10% of that would be (roughly) 6,442,000 Muslims in France. In 2050 (slightly more than the 39 years estimated by the producers for Muslims to become a majority in France), the French population is estimated to be 69,768,223. Half of that number is (roughly) 34,884,000.** So, Muslims need to both breed and immigrate to the tune of 28 million** new people (give or take a half-million) while non-Muslim French society shrinks correspondingly. Do you see where I'm going? Do you see how preposterous the argument is?

The other countries (and we'll only focus on Europe for now) are not too different (all numbers from the CIA World Factbook):

United Kingdom 2.7% Muslim
Greece 1.3%
Germany 3.7%
Italy, Spain and the European Union, all NA

The base figures upon which the Muslim population growth rates are applied are so small that it will take much longer than 40 years for Muslims to become the majority religion in much of Europe, if ever, insha'allah.

Now for the Canadian fertility rate, the producers actually overstated the statistic, claiming 1.6 vs. the CIA's number of 1.58. For the US, the claim is also 1.6 (although they also claim 2.11 with "Latino immigration"). The CIA comes up with a fertility rate of 2.05. And the claim of 9 million American Muslims seems excessively high, especially when most American Muslims claim 2-6 million at the most.

Overall, as a Muslim, I find the video typical of Christian proselytizing: Islam as the boogey man. The myth that "Islam is going to take over the world" has been a rallying cry among Christians for a long time now, but that doesn't mean it will become true nor even that Muslims seek such an agenda. I give the data in the video little credence, and even if Muslims do come to dominate the demographic landscape in European countries, so what? It's not like Europeans can't have babies like everyone else.

The secondary threat in the video is very clear: immigration is allowing hordes of dark people to settle in white Europe and America. "The horror!" And yet the anti-immigration crowd doesn't stop to think about certain implications their agenda would create if it became public policy. As the video shows (at the 1:34 mark), a shrinking population creates a smaller and smaller workforce. Who is going to shoulder the financial burden of dependents, both children and elderly, if the native working population (normally defined as those between the ages of 15 and 64) keeps shrinking? Who will help keep tax revenues and social security benefits topped up if the native working population keeps shrinking? Yes, thank God for those immigrants who do the work native citizens don't want to do yet pay into the system for the benefit of all.

The Christians realize, of course, that there's little they can do to either stop the number of Muslims being born or immigrating into Western countries. That's why the "call to action" at the end of the movie is to proselytize. Convert the Muslims into becoming Christians instead. Heh; fat chance of that. Better for them to join the winning team.


* How would they know when even the CIA gives such a wide base figure of 5-10% for the entire Muslim population in France?

** Thanks to anonymous for the correction.

CIA World Factbook Definition for "Total Fertility Rate":

This entry gives a figure for the average number of children that would be born per woman if all women lived to the end of their childbearing years and bore children according to a given fertility rate at each age. The total fertility rate (TFR) is a more direct measure of the level of fertility than the crude birth rate, since it refers to births per woman. This indicator shows the potential for population change in the country. A rate of two children per woman is considered the replacement rate for a population, resulting in relative stability in terms of total numbers. Rates above two children indicate populations growing in size and whose median age is declining. Higher rates may also indicate difficulties for families, in some situations, to feed and educate their children and for women to enter the labor force. Rates below two children indicate populations decreasing in size and growing older. Global fertility rates are in general decline and this trend is most pronounced in industrialized countries, especially Western Europe, where populations are projected to decline dramatically over the next 50 years. (CIA World Factbook)

Update: Martijn at Closer has a post about the Muslim Demographics video that's helpful in several respects: it has a transcript of the video, an excerpt of a good review by Tiny Frog, along with some general comments about the video as it relates to The Netherlands, where Martijn is located. There are also links to several other reviews (including my diary over at Street Prophets, which was a slightly edited version of this post), and a significant excerpt from another article on the topic. Overall, if you're interested in the topic, it's well worth your time to read Martijn's post and peruse some of his links.


holo said...

Someone emailed me a link to the "Muslim Demographics" video. I immediately wanted to check the source of stats, so I appreciate your response. I a Mormon, so Christian, but not always accepted as such among other Christians. In any event, these bad statistics and fear based propaganda are unfortunate.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. In addition to the extremely faulty statistics, projections like these ignore a lot of things:

Immigrant fertility rates fall quickly for second generation immigrants and are at native levels by the third generation.

As the labour costs begin to rise in nations which industrialized countries traditionally outsourced to like China and India, other nations in the Middle East, North Africa and even sub-Saharan states begin to see employment rise. They are also seeing fertility fall, all of which results in less insentive to migrate. Most of the Muslim immigration to Europe occured in the nineties and increases since have been mostly from the high but falling fertility rates.

While they are certainly not all becoming Christian, there is a large discrepency between the people who are considered "statistically Muslim" and those who self identify as Muslim on anonymous surveys.

The whole "irreversible" fertility decline is bunk. European rates are already rising and there are ways to make them rise further without pro-natalist palaver.

North Africa has more chance of becoming black Christian than Europe has of becoming Muslim.

Anonymous said...

And while it might feel good to dismiss your competitors as racists, the evangelists are not scared of living with "dark" people. They just worry about a world of honour killings and where women get raped for not wearing veils - like Turkey, Egypt or Sweden.

Naeem: said...


Very nice deconstruction of the false propaganda vid.

However, I'm not sure your last argument is completely true:

"Convert the Muslims into becoming Christians instead. Heh; fat chance of that. Better for them to join the winning team."

While I agree with your sentiment, the facts on the ground may not be the same. Many second generation immigrant Muslims are not as strong in their Muslim identity as their immigrant parents. I'm very intrigued to see what becomes of the third/fourth generations.

My feeling is that while very few will convert to Christianity, many will opt for the secular outlook on life (as many Xians and Jewish Americans), where Islam becomes a weekly or yearly expression.

bambam said...

funny i just saw that video this morning, well whatever comes out of the new america foundation needs to be taken with a big bucket of salt.
I find it funny since on the ground the statistic aren't as such and it normalizes like what the commentator before me mentioned, by the third generation they usually end up being assimilated, a good case study would be the turkish population in germany and it's intriguing reading about what changed and what remained the same. Either way i have wide objections about religious demographic studies, especially about the reporting method (parent's religion) and age brackets since i see those two things are primal in cutting back the numbers of any religious group

JDsg said...

@ holo: Your comment is appreciated. My sisters are also Mormon, so I know about the non-acceptance of the LDS church by other Christians.

@ Anonymous #1: Although I didn't bring it up in the post, I was already familiar with the issue of fertility rates falling for 2nd/3rd generation immigrants falling.

I did a post about a year ago that discussed one possible reason why fertility rates may fall in general, that being that increasing life expectancy lowers fertility rates. There were exceptions to this relationship, though, in particular with Muslim countries that had both higher life expectancies and higher fertility rates, so it would be interesting to see if the higher fertility rates continue with the later generations of Muslim immigrants or if the falling fertility rates found for other groups of immigrants holds.

The other thing to keep in mind is that, until not too recently, big families were very commonplace, even in the US. Both of my parents' families have been in the US for many decades (if not centuries, some branches of the family had come over in the colonial era). And both of my parents came from large families, six kids on my dad's side, and about a dozen on my mom's. Neither family's size was considered abnormal then, although I'm sure people would think so now.

I'm curious as to what you mean by "statistically Muslim."

I also agree that there are methods governments can use to increase declining fertility rates, some of which are used here in Singapore, which has a similar problem.

@ Anonymous #2: While certainly not all evangelists are racist or "scared of living with 'dark' people," if the generalization wasn't true a video like this wouldn't be made in the first place. "The proof of the pudding," if you know what I mean. That and the fact that the American right has a long track record (especially in the past few years) of showing just how scared they are, indeed, of living with dark people (vis a vis the immigration issue).

I'm not familiar with your examples of women being raped for not wearing hijab, but the issue of honor killings is much broader than just in the Muslim world. A month ago, an Italian friend of mine mentioned that a Christian man (presumably Catholic) in Italy who killed his wife for having talked to another man, which sounds all too much like the typical honor killing story I've read. Not surprisingly, the story didn't make the English-language press (I searched for the story); after all, when it happens among us white people it isn't worthy of reporting, but when Muslims do it... hold the presses!@ Naeem & BamBam: I'll get to your comments later, insha'allah. I've run out of time and need to go help the wife. :)

loolt said...

I agree the stats and conclusions of a muslim dominated europe by 2050 are extremely exaggerated... also a fertility avergare rate of 8.1 for muslims in france seems extremeley high and made up!

kinzi said...

I saw this first at Haitham's blog. Seeing the number of American Muslims at 9,000,000 was a tip-off that something may not be right. So was an 8.1 birthrate for Muslims.

Christian friends in the US usually send us such emails and videos to ask about accuracy, this one hasn't arrived in our in-box yet.

I spent some time reading on this topic, and the concerns of growing Muslim influence in France and Europe are not the worries of fanatic evangelicals alone.

Hysteria doesn't seem to be in order, but neither does your dismissal that it is not an issue. I found this article helpful:

As one of those evangelicals myself, who is not afraid of 'dark-skinned people', I am concerned not as much about the numerical growth of Muslims but the growth or radical influence on impoverished Muslim youth.

Although we cannot know the number of Muslims in France, the percentage of youth that are Muslim is substantial.

The concept of 2nd and 3rd generation assimilation (is it ok to use that word?) was not what I found when living in Austria with Turkish immigrants. Quite the opposite.

Haitham described this video as 'hate' something or other, which I don't agree with. Islamophobic, perhaps. Being concerned about the loss of freedoms that would come with a Muslim majority is legitimate.

If large numbers of evangelical Christians were moving to Jordan and tripling the local birth rate, it would be worrying for Muslims.

I think I have become an IslamIST-phobe, as a result of living in Jordan. I love living here, but knowing I have the US to go to where I can say, do, and wear what I want is part of what makes it good. If Islamists in America tried to change that, it would be very distressing.

As far as proslytizing, Christians are too afraid to do that much. Most of the Muslims I now who converted did so as a result of a dream, vision, or disgust with the violent actions of other Muslims.

JDsg said...

@ Naeem: Wa 'alaikum salaam.

Consider that "last argument" a throw-away line, written late at night just before I went to bed and was very tired. If I were to cross-post this essay over at, say, Street Prophets, I'd delete the sentence, no question. But here I can be as "hizbi" as I wanna be. ;)

I too would be curious to see what happens with the later generations. I believe we talked about this a few months ago on your blog, when you wrote about the need for community infrastructure/reinforcers. In the US and Switzerland, I saw a lot of first-generation immigrants who were strong in their iman. The situation here in S'pore and up in Malaysia gives me hope that your fears for future generations (the more secular outlook on life) will be for naught. Singapore's Muslim community only makes up about 15% of the population, and it's certainly not an immigrant community, having been here for a couple centuries, at least. Which is why, even after six years here, it still surprises me sometimes to see several hundred high school boys show up for any given jumu'ah. And I think it's because the community has those reinforcements, in the form of the educational infrastructure and the daily lifestyle cues that tell the young that being Muslim and living a Muslim lifestyle is acceptable for teenage living. Insha'allah, this is what the Muslims living in Western countries will ultimately develop.

@ BamBam: I agree that a case study on the Turks living in Germany would be an excellent idea.

BTW, just to muddy the waters a little more... :) As Anonymous 1 pointed out, 2nd and 3rd generation immigrant families tend to have lower fertility rates than those of the first generation. However, one of the interesting things about the Singapore Malay community is that it has the highest fertility rate of all the ethnic groups in S'pore, despite the fact, as I just mentioned, that the community isn't immigrant and has been around for several hundred years. For the country as a whole, the total fertility rate was 1.29 in 2007; for the Chinese, 1.14 (the lowest rate, despite being the majority ethnic group, at about 74% of the population); for the Malays, 1.94; for the Indians, 1.25; and for "others," 1.89. (Here's the source document [pdf] in case anyone's interested.)

I'll respond to the new comments later, insha'allah.

Anonymous said...


I honestly don't think there's much threat in the U.S. of radicalized muslim youth. I live in an area of Brooklyn, NY with a lot of Middle Eastern immigrants, and, in my experience, I never see any signs of radicalization. They're not protesting outside synogues in Borough Park, they're not putting signs up in their stores that say "death to Israel," it's "Help donate to the humanitarian crisis in Palestine." Even when they are subject to warrantless persecution, like after 9/11, the reaction typically revolves around the violation of human or constitutional rights, not Islam.

JDsg said...

@ Kinzi:

Christian friends in the US usually send us such emails and videos to ask about accuracy, this one hasn't arrived in our in-box yet.I think it's relatively new; I first came across it three days ago.

Hysteria doesn't seem to be in order, but neither does your dismissal that it is not an issue. I found this article helpful:Thanks for the link to the book review. I found I agreed more with the author than the reviewer. :)

As one of those evangelicals myself, who is not afraid of 'dark-skinned people', I am concerned not as much about the numerical growth of Muslims but the growth or radical influence on impoverished Muslim youth.The irony is that the research shows that so-called "radicals" are more likely to be better educated and have higher incomes than the moderates. But it's not like you can stop Muslim youth from going to universities or keep them "down on the farm," either. Perhaps the "problem" is that, by going on for higher education, they're better exposed to the injustices being done to them and others.

I think I have become an IslamIST-phobe, as a result of living in Jordan.To which I would ask, what's your definition of an Islamist?As far as proselytizing, Christians are too afraid to do that much.Heh; that's not been the case in my experience. Granted, certain denominations are much more active in proselytizing than others. But of all the world's religions, I'd give Christianity the top mark when it comes to proselytization; no other religion works as hard in this area.

kinzi said...

Anon, I agree completely as far as 'radicalized' youth, that is more a European than American issue.

To be honest, I believe that Western converts and US resident Muslims (immigrant or not)will provide the alternatives to the radicalization of others in their Eastward ummah.

I'd like to send Dunner and Tariq Nelson as evangelist missionaries to Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi. :)

My concern is movement towards constricting freedom of speech. I am watching the UN's resolutions on 'hate' speech directed toward religion.

I have found on my own blog that the historical foundations of Christianity are offensive and insulting to some Muslims. If the very pillars of my faith are 'hate speech' to a Muslim, my freedom to speak and practice are hindered.

@ J, my surprise with the video is that it didn't include an address where to send money to 'help solve the problem'.

I'm not surprised you agreed more with the author. :) I am interested in his book to learn more.

Valid point about education level and radicalization. It seems youth violence in France is more from the impoverished areas, where an attack in England I am remembering it was engineers and doctors (although the Jordanian dr. was acquitted)

After upsetting my blog readers using "Muslim", Ahmad Humeid used "Islamist" so thought I was safe. I'll come back to read your definition after I pick up kids.

As far as evangelizing, I shall take that as a compliment. I meant in the Muslim world, as most of us (Arab and foreign Christians) try to abide by the rules. It is hard as it is a very religious society (which I like), and people are very curious. Mostly asking if we are moral, drink alcohol and eat pork.

kinzi said...

I just got an email about the video. That didn't take long!

Thanks for doing the leg-work for me. :)

JDsg said...

If the very pillars of my faith are 'hate speech' to a Muslim, my freedom to speak and practice are hindered.I think the issue before the UN is less about what Christian beliefs are vis a vis Islam and more about provocative incidents such as the Danish cartoons and Islamophobic speech that one frequently encounters on right-wing websites such as "Jihad Watch," "Little Green Footballs," and the like. I'm not going to get into this here because I've written a number of posts on these topics before; you might look up tags like "Free Speech" and "Danish Cartoons" in the "Labels" section down below if you're interested in reading those posts. surprise with the video is that it didn't include an address where to send money to 'help solve the problem'.I hadn't considered that; you're right, of course!

It seems youth violence in France is more from the impoverished areas...The violence in the banlieues around Paris stemmed from both impoverishment and a disassociation from mainstream French society in that the youth aren't recognized by the French as being French, but were and continue to be treated solely as Arab (the "other"), despite being born and raised there.

Thanks for doing the leg-work for me. :)

Not a problem. A lot of my blog posts tend to be educational in nature, or at least provide information people are looking for. In that regard, I get a TON of hits from universities, businesses and government agencies. Last night (my time) someone at a forum frequented by a lot of college students linked this post at that site; as a result, I picked up around 90 hits on this post just from them alone so far. The guy who put up the link said he wanted to write a long, involved post about the video himself, but decided that mine was good enough. ;)

kinzi said...

JD, I am finding that what constitutes Islamophobic hate-speech is pretty broad, and that is what scares me. It seems that any form of dissent from the status quo can be defined as 'hate speech' in these days in religious, political and social realms.

I might blog about this myself.

Thanks again! said...

I, too was sent this video by a friend and I wanted to research the facts as the video had no supporting citations. I am neither a Muslim nor a Christian. I am a truth-seeker distressed by distortions like this.
1. Fertility rate is number of children per WOMAN.

Where are the man-to-woman ratios in this equation?
2. The higher the "life expectancy" for a country, the lower the fertility rate (plot the data from the CIA website). That is, countries that have a higher fertility rate are expected to die younger.

Think about the implications of that FACT of preservation.
3. Countries with higher life expectancy have a lower infant mortality (again, plot the CIA data).
That video was just too simplistic to be true.
Now, is there a statistician out there who can synthesize the correct data?

sent from:

JDsg said...


1. Fertility rate is number of children per WOMAN.

Where are the man-to-woman ratios in this equation?
I don't know exactly how the total fertility rate statistic is calculated, off hand, but considering that it's applied (or should be applied) in the same manner for each country, ethnic group, etc., I would think the male-female ratio should be irrelevant.

2. The higher the "life expectancy" for a country, the lower the fertility rate (plot the data from the CIA website). That is, countries that have a higher fertility rate are expected to die younger.I actually addressed this in an earlier comment; see this post of mine where I did indeed graph out these two variables. Yes, the relationship mostly holds in the way you described, although not perfectly. Some Muslim countries in particular have both longer life expectancies and higher fertility rates.

3. Countries with higher life expectancy have a lower infant mortality (again, plot the CIA data).An interesting idea; I might look at that in the future.

Anonymous said...

Check your math - half of 69.8 is not 38.1

but your logic is good.....

"new math" would give you points for that, but traditionalists would mark the entire answer wrong.

JDsg said...

@ Anonymous: Thanks for the correction; I'll blame that one also on the late hour of the writing. ;) The way my accounting classes used to be graded, they'd give me one mark out of two. ;)

Text Messages said...

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Daniel said...

hahaha, good ending...
I'd rather embrace the winning team too ;-)

George Carty said...

Sorry to post so late on this thread, but there's something bothering me:

Why use a reversed Turkish flag to represent Islam, rather than the black shahada flag used by contemporary jihadists (which would be much more intimidating to most Westerners, as its color scheme is the same as that of the Jolly Roger)?