It is true to say that we live in a politically and socially volatile world. But I refuse to say “these days.” To do so would suggest that historically the world was a peaceful, idealistic, and Utopian. Even the most basic lessons in history would contest that. And yet the negativity towards Islam, and the increased pressures to curtail Muslim Immigration is feeding a narrative that links Islam with danger and violence.
I have grown up with Islam in my life for as long as I can remember. Muslim children went to my primary schools and my secondary school; many fellow students at university were Muslim; colleagues in all my work places have been Muslims. And Sikhs, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Rastafarians…my life has been a cultural tapestry, and if I might afford myself a moment of personal opinion: I am all the better for it.
However, it seems as though the narrative being constantly hammered out is one that unequivocally links Islam with “terror.” This seems odd to me as I can think of more acts of terror on UK soil at the hands of the IRA than I can as a result of Muslims. So, why am I not so afraid of Muslims? Why am I not writing a blog about my fears of Irish Terrorism rather than Muslim Immigration?
Muslim Immigration Ban begins to snowball…
The latest major threat to social cohesion has indeed been Trump’s attempt to ban Muslim Immigration from seven mainly Muslim countries. Besides being morally questionable, it also turned out to be an illegal executive order, and has been overturned by the US courts. That isn’t to say that Trump has withdrawn his commitment to the point he was trying to make, and nor has it silenced his supporters. What it did was slow down his juggernaut of document signing that he’d clearly been itching to start as soon as he got into power. But it appears that Trump and his followers in the US are not alone in their serious stance against Muslim Immigration.
The London think tank, Chatham House recently undertook a survey of 10,000 Europeans on the question: “All further immigration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped.” The result was a 55% in favour. Must we assume that this is a clear sign that people fear imminent Muslim terror attacks? Moreover, do people assume that the only way to convincingly prevent all terrorism is to prevent Muslim Immigration from mainly Muslim populated countries? However, the media hyperbole being spun out of this is quite remarkable. Since when is 55% “most” of a sample group? Since one can assume that 45% are okay with Muslim Immigration, am I allowed to call that statistic “nearly half”?
How much more secure would a Muslim Immigration ban really make us?
However, it strikes me as very odd that the assumption that preventing millions of perfectly innocent Muslims from travelling is unlikely to make the slightest difference to terrorists carrying out acts of terrorism. International communication is literally at the fingertips of billions of people world-wide, so collaboration is not exactly very difficult to achieve. Emails and phone calls can be exchanged on untraceable accounts or phones, allowing plans and plots to be negotiated online. We no longer need international travel to make an international statement.
The London bombings of 2005 the attackers were UK born Muslims who did not need to travel into the UK – and that was in a time of heightened fear after the 9/11 attacks. And then there is the simple fact that the majority of attacks and deaths in America are committed by “home grown” attackers. More notably, the vast majority are not even committed by Muslims. Take a look at this link on American School Shootings since around the 1800s – how many of them happened because of Muslim Immigration?
One survey showing 55% in support doesn’t seem overly convincing to me. In fact, it seems to sit with all the other borderline politics recently – as referred to in our previous blog “Polar Politics”. Donald Trump won the presidency on 56% of the vote, which came out of only 55% turnout (which means only 30% of the population voted for him, much in the same way that only 25% of Brits voted the Tories into power). Brexit was a 52% vote, based on 72% of the voting population, which equates to about 38% of the population. Of course a result is a result, but we must surely be careful of making too grandiose a claim based on so many “decisions” being made on little more than the flip of a coin.
Obviously a lot of analysis would need to be made of the Chatham House survey, and although I would commend it for getting 10,000 samples, it’s worth noting that number is significantly lower than even the 25,000 rejected ballots in the Brexit referendum. So when newspapers like the Independent quote “most” Europeans…I wonder if they really understand what the word “most” means.
Fact or Irrational Fear?
The big question is: how much of the public opinion is really based on any semblance of fact? Perspectives are hung on flippant, polarised decisions over serious matters and it seems that few people have a good idea of how much Muslim Immigration there really is. French and British people massively over-estimate the number of Muslims already in their country. The French really believe that are 4x the actual Muslims than there really are, whereas the Brits overestimate by by 3 times.
It would also be interesting to more thoroughly investigate how many of the “most” who claim to want an end to “Muslim Immigration” are confusing it with refugee migration. That is then tied up with humanitarian needs. So is this new claim really a carefully collected piece of social demographics data informed by a sensible consideration for public safety, or just more irrational fear being stirred up by the anti-Islamic narrative?