With increasing number of Muslims now living in western countries, particularly Europe, I have to ask this rude and politically incorrect question.
Will Muslim Immigration destroy western democracy?
To answer this question, we have to look at whether Islam is compatible with democracy. Democracy means rule by the people. It is a form of government designed for the rule of a nation state. Rule of the people in practice means rule decided by the ballot box. Implicit is the acceptance that the majority of the people will decide what laws will be passed through their representatives in Parliaments or Congress. It also assumes that the loyalty of the people will reside in the nation state and each citizen is expected to contribute to the welfare of their nation state. It means that the people must agree that the majority has the right to rule. Unfortunately, Islam has teachings that go against these conditions that make democracy difficult at best, impossible at worst.
The problem with Islam is that it teaches loyalty to the Muslim Ummah (nation) first. For them, the world is divided people of many religions who happened to live in different countries. For the rest of us, the world is divided into different countries that happened to have people of many religions.
That is why Muslims have set up an Organization of Islamic States. But there are no Organization of Christian or Buddhist or Hindu states. This loyalty to the Muslim Ummah results in world wide Muslim protests whenever any Muslim country is attacked by any non-Muslim nation, no matter how justified. When the Taliban shielded Osama bin Laden and refused to give him up after September 11, the Americans attacked.
Predictably, Muslims went livid with rage that fellow Muslims were attacked by a non-Muslims. They chose to believe in any conspiracy theory no matter how ridiculous to justify their reflex action of opposing non-Muslims attacking Muslims. Of course, it goes without saying that they don't shed a tear in sadness or wag a finger in anger when Muslims kill Muslims, no matter how brutal. What matters for them is who does the killing and not the reasons for war. Muslims have killed more Muslims than did the Israelis. But there was not a speck of sadness or anger from the Muslim world. This biasness is hard-wired in their minds by Islam.
Thus accepting Muslim immigrants means accepting people whose loyalty will not lie with the host country. If the numbers of Muslims are small, the problem is not serious. But with their high birth rates, a tipping point will be reached in which the viability of the western nation states will be compromised.
The second problem with Islam is that it does not separate mosque and state. This is because the Founder of Islam, Prophet Mohammed, was both spiritual and political ruler. He was both King and Pope rolled into one. After he died, his successors, called Caliphs, carried on this tradition. Prophet Mohammed also gave detailed instructions on the laws that his polity was to be ruled by. These are laws that devout Muslims believe come from God and must be obeyed.
This puts the devout Muslim on a collision course with modern democracy. For the devout Muslim, he must live under laws made by God and revealed through his Prophet. It is God and not man who must decide what laws should govern them. A democracy can only work if it is agreed that the majority has the right to pass laws through their elected representatives. The problem is that devout Muslims will view such laws that contradict Islamic law (also known as Shariah Law) as invalid or illegitimate.
By itself, this view is still not fatal for democracy. What makes it fatal is the propensity for Islam to generate violence. Even a cursory look at the Koran will reveal that violence is never far from the surface.
Koran 8:39 And fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should be only for Allah; but if they desist, then surely Allah sees what they do.
The commands are still valid today. What is meant by persecution? For some Muslims, this can mean something as harmless as the Danish cartoons! Thus even if a minority of Muslims use violence to fight for the triumph of Islamic law, democracy will be undermined. Compare their reaction to the cartoons with the Christian reaction to the screening of the Da Vinci Code and you will see how religious beliefs affect human society.
Muslims behave in this way today because they are imitating their Prophet Mohammed. The Founder of Islam was not tolerant of criticisms – like all medieval rulers. He killed many of his critics like Ka'ab and Asmah bin Marwan. See Ali Sina's article for further elaboration. (1)No doubt, Mohammed Bouyeri felt justified to murder Theo Van Gogh and I am sure that many Muslims would agree.
When we talk of democracy, we don't mean just one man one vote. It also must include freedom of speech and freedom to choose one's religion. But according to shariah law, it is death for blasphemy and apostasy. Thus once again, Islam is in conflict with the basic tenets of democracy. That is why Bush's project to transplant democracy to the Middle East is so difficult if not impossible.
So far, we have only looked at how Islam works in theory. How does it work in practice? Let’s take a look at the empirical evidence. Of the 55 Muslim majority countries (not counting the Palestinian territory), only 5 are rated as Free by Freedom House. The rest are rated as Partly Free (24 countries) and Not Free (26 countries). That is a poor record. Islam has obviously produced a culture in which it is hard for democracy to take root.
The more Muslims seek to imitate Prophet Mohammed, the harder it is for democracy to function. He was after all a medieval ruler. (The British should be grateful that Henry VIII did not declare himself a Prophet and start a new religion, instead of simply breaking with Rome. Otherwise, they would have similar problems. Unfortunately for Muslims, Prophet Mohammed is seen as the perfect man and role model. Imagine the problems the British will have if they take Henry VIII as the role model.)
Yet western countries are admitting Muslim immigrants whose religious beliefs are not compatible with democracy and whose actual track record in adhering to the basic tenets of democracy is poor. Obviously, the more Muslims there are in a population that gives each person one vote, the more the country will be like what we have in an average Muslim majority country.
Western democracy is at the moment still viable but the Muslim minority is growing fast with its higher birth rate. Already, one quarter of French children are Muslim. By the end of this century, Europeans might be majority Muslim and speaking Arabic. Unless Muslims acquire new values and abandon old ones, democracy will not be viable at some point. But so far, Muslims are not assimilating or acquiring new values that make a liberal democracy possible. A survey taken in Britain for example shows that 40% of Muslims there want Shariah Law. (3) Another survey showed that only one quarter of British Muslims regard Britain as their country. As expected their primary loyalty is to the Muslim Ummah.
I predict that as the Muslim minority grows, social tensions will also grow. Ascerbating the tensions will be the economic disparity between Muslims and non-Muslims. This can be seen in a survey done by Essex University. (5) The survey states that Pakistanis and Bangla Deshis (who are mostly Muslims) are easily the poorest people in the UK with high levels of unemployment and large families.
It should be noted that Indians and Chinese have earnings on par with whites. Thus the under-achievement of Muslims in the UK cannot be due to racial discrimination. After all, the successful Indians (who are mostly Hindus) are racially very similar to Pakistanis and Bangla Deshis.
As I argued in my earlier articles, such as 'How Islam failed Muslims', Islam has impeded the progress of Muslims (8). I argued that Islam is a warrior's religion designed to facilitate Arab imperialism. While it can still produce brave warriors, it cannot produce the sort of people needed for a modern society.
Thus, the culture that Islam produces not only makes it difficult for democracy to work but also impedes economic development. As Muslim leaders like Dr Mahathir Mohammed and Pervez Musharaff have acknowledged, Muslims are amongst the most backwards people in the world (6). This would not be so bad if Muslims are prepared to assimilate and adopt new values. But from the surveys I cited, it appears that so far they are not willing to do that.
The problem is that Islam claims the Muslim Ummah to be the best nation. You can see this arrogant attitude in the Cairo Declaration of Islamic Human Rights. (7) If you see the preamble, you will see their self-image of themselves as 'the best nation':
Reaffirming the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah which God made the best nation that has given mankind a universal and well-balanced civilization in which harmony is established between this life and the hereafter and knowledge is combined with faith; and the role that this Ummah should play to guide a humanity confused by competing trends and ideologies and to provide solutions to the chronic problems of this materialistic civilization.
If Muslims form the best nation, then it follows that the rest of us are inferior to them. This is what Islam has taught them. That is why Muslims are unwilling to acquire new values or to assimilate when they move to the west. Thus we have a tragi-comic situation. Muslims migrate to the west to escape the dysfunctional societies that their Islamic culture created and still wish to replicate in the west the kind of societies they fled from. Yet the so-called best nation is amongst the most backwards on earth, as what Pervez Musharaff admitted.
In conclusion, let me say that I have written this essay not because I want to insult Muslims or make them angry but to make everybody think about the consequences of Muslim immigration to the west. Muslim immigration has created a serious long term problem and the west will have to face it. You can admit Hindus, Buddhists, Confuscianists and Christians without endangering western democracy and prosperity. But you face a serious risk with Muslims. The greater the percentage of Muslims in a country, the more that country will resemble Pakistan or the Middle East since they refuse to assimilate or acquire new values.
The politicians cannot be relied on to articulate much less solve this problem. This is the flaw in democracy. Since you have elections every four or five years, politicians do not have the luxury of thinking twenty to thirty years ahead. Yet some problems are of a long term nature and we have to think about them. Though my essay drew almost exclusively from the British experience, I believe that the experience is the same for most western countries.
Since I drew from the British experience, it is fitting that I end my essay with a quote from Sir Winston Churchill, a giant compared to the lilliputian politicians of today:
"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.
The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities - but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome." - The River War.
The great man was and is still right about Islam – unfortunately. What even he did not foresee is that the civilization of Europe might yet fall.
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