10 Myths the Western World Have About Muslims

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In his new book, The Myth of the Muslim Tide, Doug Saunders looks at the misunderstanding that surrounds the immigration of Muslims to the West and clears up some of these myths using the latest available facts and figures.

These are 10 of the most common myths and their far less interesting truths which Saunders covers in his book:

1.     The Birth Rate of Muslims is Higher Than Any Other Religion And They Will Take Over the World by Population

While this myth was started when it had more of a chance of being true – years ago Islamic countries had a fertility rate of more than 5 children per family – it has now become apparent that Islam and population growth are certainly not connected.

Saunders points out that Iran, the world’s only Islamic theocracy, is currently looking at the average family have 1.7 children, a rate which is lower than France or Britain, and this is just one example. He says the average Muslim family size has fallen by half in the past 15 years and is expected to keep dropping till it converges with Western family sizes by mid-century.

2.     Muslim Immigrants are Going to Overrun The West

Many Muslim immigrants arrive in the West with their entire families and so many people view this and expect them to multiply further. Saunders says however that Muslim immigrant groups are in fact converging with average Westerners at a faster rate than either the Jewish or Catholic immigrants did at the time of their mass immigration.

3.     Muslims Will Become The Majority In Europe

Figures indicate that according to population-growth trends and immigration rates, Muslim populations in Europe will probably peak just under 10%, a far cry from being the majority that people fear.

4.     Muslims Will Become the United States Most Dominant Group of “Cultural Outsiders”

Those who irrationally fear this can put their minds at rest. Saunders points out that Muslims are still a tiny group in the U.S. and are proving to be one of the most integrated groups in the country. By 2030, the number of Muslims is only expected to rise to approximately 6.2 million, or 1.7% of the population, a number still lower than the Jewish and Episcopalians.

5.     Muslim Immigrants in the West Share the Same “Backward” Views as Those in the Middle East and Pakistan

Data indicates that Muslims change their cultural views dramatically when they emigrate. Saunders says that for example, 62% of American Muslims believe that a way can be found for the state of Israel to exist compared to a figure of 20% to 40% amongst Middle Eastern Muslims. This shows that Muslim immigrants are embracing Western values at a rapid pace.

6.     American Muslims are More Loyal to their Faith than their Country

While this statement is in part true as 49% of American Muslims say they identify themselves as Muslim first and American second, Saunders points out that they could just be embracing the same rate of religious observance as the people around them due to the fact that 46% of American Christians view themselves as Christian first and American second as well.

7.     Poor Muslims Are Leaving Overpopulated Countries and Flooding the West

Muslims are currently far from being the largest immigrant group to the West and in fact, the poorest and most overpopulated Muslim countries are producing the least emigration.

8.     Muslim Immigrants are Angry at the Society Around Them

People assume that Muslims and American Muslims in particular are angry with the society they’ve become a part of however, as Saunders points out, these Muslim immigrants appear happier with the world around them. When asked whether they were satisfied with their lives, 84% of Muslim immigrants said yes, a massive figure compared to the 75% of average Americans.

9.     Western Muslims Cheer for Terrorist Violence

For some people this myth is just a ridiculous stereotype, but there are those who believe it to be true. Surveys indicate otherwise though.  When asked whether violence against civilian targets is “often or sometimes justified” if the cause is right, 8% of American Muslims agreed compared to 24% of non-Muslim Americans.

10.  There Are So Many Muslims That the Most Common Baby Name in Britain is Now Mohammed

Part of this myth is actually true. In 2010 Mohammed was more popular than any other baby name; however, it wasn’t due to the number of Muslims. Many Westerners have been using unorthodox baby names and among these unusual Western names, ‘Mohammed’ was the most popular in 2010, although even then it was only used for 1% of babies born.

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