By Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Since the massacre at the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January, the U.S. media has understandably devoted attention to the problem of radical Islam in Europe. The fact has been widely reported that thousands of European Union citizens have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the self-styled Islamic State. Almost as much coverage has been given to stories of French Jews emigrating to Israel. And there have been numerous articles about Michel Houellebecq’s diabolically timed novel Soumission, which imagines France in 2022 with a Muslim president introducing sharia law and being fawned over by the Parisian establishment.
Avoid These 5 Interview Mistakes At All Costs
6 Books Bill Gates Recommended for TED 2015
‘Outraged’: Indicted U.S. Senator Vows to Beat Corruption Charge NBC News
Texas Trooper Rapped for Posing With Snoop Dogg NBC News
‘Why Is Dad So Mad?’ Veteran Writes PTSD Book for Daughter NBC News
The implication of many of these articles is: “How utterly terrifying. Thank heavens it couldn’t happen here.”
POPULAR AMONG SUBSCRIBERS
Star Track: Amy Schumer’s movie Trainwreck
Amy Schumer: Class Clown of 2015
Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us
True, there are no American equivalents of the alarmist books about Europe with titles like Eurabia or Londonistan. Apparently it is not quite time to warn about the “United States of Sharia” or “Michiganistan.” But are we underestimating the speed with which this country could develop substantial and influential populations of Islamic extremists? A growing, if still small number of cases like that of Abdi Nur – the 20-year-old student who left south Minneapolis to join IS last year – suggests we may be.
Mainly as a result of postwar migrations, there are now more than 20 million Muslims living in the European Union. In France – where accurate census data on religious affiliation are not collected – the Muslim share of the population is now estimated at between 7 and 8 percent. That is an order of magnitude larger than the current Muslim share of the U.S. population.
Yet, as the European experience shows, demographic change can happen rapidly, as a consequence of migration patterns, differentials in birth rates and – in the case of religious affiliation – rates of conversion and apostasy. In 1990 Europe (the whole continent minus Russia) had a Muslim population of 16 million. It had nearly doubled by 2010. It will be 40 million by 2030.
According to estimates by the Pew Research Center, the Muslim population of the United States is set to increase from around 2.6 million today to 6.2 million in 2030, mainly as a result of immigration, as well as above-average birth rates. Although in relative terms this will still represent less than 2 percent of the total U.S. population (1.7 percent, to be precise, compared with around 0.8 percent today), in absolute terms that will be a larger population than in any West European country except France. Between now and 2030, the Muslim population of the United States will be growing faster than that of any EU member state (with two exceptions where the absolute numbers are tiny: Ireland and Finland). The annual growth rate will be more than double that of France.
As an immigrant of Somali origin, I have no objection to other people coming to America to seek a better life for themselves and their families. My concern is with the attitudes many of these new Muslim Americans will bring with them – and with our capacity for changing those attitudes.
Approximately two fifths of Muslim immigrants between now and 2030 will be from just three countries: Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Iraq. Another Pew study – of opinion in the Muslim world – shows just how many people in these countries hold views that most Americans would regard as extreme. (Data on opinion are unavailable for the other two big “sender” countries, Somalia and Iran.)
Read more at Times Magazine.