Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
“No, Islam Isn’t Inherently Violent, And The Math Proves It,” M. Steven Fish declared in the Daily Beast. _Vox_’s headline writers went one better, “This study obliterates the myth that Muslims are more violent”. Salon claimed that Richard Dawkins and Bill Mater were wrong about Islam. “Here’s how data proves it”.
The left is enamored with claiming that science proves something. It rarely however bothers looking at the actual data. That would spoil all the fun.
How did M. Steven Fish, a Berkeley political science professor, prove that Islam isn’t inherently violent? In the Washington Post’s fishwrap, Fish wrote, “Predominantly, Muslim countries average 2.4 murders per annum per 100,000 people, compared to 7.5 in non-Muslim countries.”
Fish concluded that, “More Muslims, less homicide.”
Is this really true? It’s as true as the data that Fish uses as the basis for his alternate version of reality. And this data claims that Sudan is much safer than Canada, that you’re as safe in Iraq as in America and that Egypt is one of the safest places on earth.
M. Steven Fish compares murder rates per 100,000 people between a select list of Muslim and Christian countries. The Christian countries include America, Canada, France and the UK. They also include the worst places on earth like South Africa and Colombia. The Muslim list includes Iraq, Iran, Syria, Pakistan and Indonesia. All of these countries have committed genocide and yet they’re somehow not violent.
If you believe Fish, then Sudan, whose Muslim Brotherhood leader is wanted for genocide, is one of the most peaceful places on earth with a murder rate of a mere 0.3. That would make Sudan safer than Japan with a 0.5 murder rate and even safer than Luxembourg with a murder rate of 0.4.
You should, according to Fish’s “More Muslims, less homicide” study, be safer walking around Sudan than Luxembourg. And that would be a great way to get horribly murdered.
The World Health Organization’s estimated murder rate for Sudan was 28.6 during one of the years of Fish’s estimate. That’s a lot more than 0.3. Fish uses a blend of numbers dating back to the 90s, but it’s still wildly unlikely that Sudan was ever safer than Luxembourg.
“Anyone who is skeptical of these numbers is invited to walk through minaret-dotted Dakar and steeple-studded Johannesburg at night,” M. Steven Fish writes. Johannesburg has one of the worst murder rates in the world, but despite Fish’s claim of a 0.3 murder rate for Senegal, the State Department lists Dakar as a “high-crime city”. The Interpol data for Senegal was 1.1, the WHO estimate was 14.2.
“The homicide rate in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, is 1 per 100,000—one-fifth the rate of the world’s largest Christian country,” Fish claims. But the WHO estimate for Indonesia was 8.9.
He writes that, “Turks, Egyptians, Iranians, and Malaysians live with rates in the 2-4 range.” The WHO estimate for Turkey was 6.9 and 8.9 for Malaysia. His data places Niger at 0.9. WHO estimates it’s 20.2. Fish lists Algeria as 1.4, the WHO estimate is 9.6, he pegs Mali at 0.7, while the WHO estimate is 18.
Why the huge difference? More developed countries have more accurate murder rates than less developed ones. Countries that are dysfunctional, fighting a civil war or have no organized national law enforcement system that produces transparent statistics have no viable data worth bothering with.
Many Muslim countries have no law enforcement worth discussing outside of urban areas. Tribal territories in Pakistan have tribal justice. M. Steven Fish repeatedly holds up South Africa as a contrast to a supposedly peaceful Muslim world, but Peshawar’s murder rate is close to that of Johannesburg.
If we had complete data for Pakistan, it might be as bad as South Africa. We don’t and we won’t.
Fish’s trick is to take incomplete data from dysfunctional countries and then use a per 100,000 number to compare it to more rigorous complete data from developed countries.
Data only matters when it’s valid. Statistical information about a society depends on transparency. How much transparency was there in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or Assad’s Syria? To accept M. Steven Fish’s premise about how safe Muslim societies are, you have to believe that the Muslim countries on his list will commit genocide and sponsor terrorism, but not misrepresent their murder rates.
And then we run into cultural differences about the definition of murder. There are an estimated 1,000 honor killings in Pakistan of women and girls every year, most of which go unreported and are not considered murders. M. Steven Fish praises the supposedly low murder rates in Ankara and Istanbul, but toward the end of his data cutoff point, the murder rate for women in Turkey increased 1,400%.
In some Muslim countries, the murder of wives and daughters is not considered homicide.
Sudan, no doubt, did not consider the murders of 400,000, many of them at the hands of Janjaweed Arab tribes, to be murder. Did Indonesia, another of Fish’s favorite “Safe Muslim country” examples, consider the assaults by violent Muslim mobs on the Chinese minority to be a crime?
To believe that M. Steven Fish’s conclusions are accurate, you also have to believe that Sudan and Egypt are the safest places on earth. Either that or the statistics he’s using are incomplete and worthless.
So is Fish’s claim of “More Muslims, less homicide” actually true?
The best way to examine it is to look at the impact of Muslim migration to Western countries. Hamtramck is America’s first majority Muslim city. It has the seventh worst crime rate in Michigan.
In the UK, 14.4% of prisoners are Muslims. That’s three times higher than their proportion in the population. Some high security prisons, such as Whitemoor, are moving to a Muslim majority. In France, up to 60% of prisoners may be Muslim. In Spain, it’s 70%. In the United States, it’s 9%. In all of these cases, Muslims are vastly overrepresented in the prison population.
These statistics would suggest that “More Muslims, less homicide” is not a safe bet.
If Muslims were naturally less violent than Christians, they wouldn’t be packing Western prisons. Malmo wouldn’t be experiencing multiple grenade attacks and Marseille wouldn’t be France’s murder capital.
Are individual Muslim murder rates related to Islam? Certainly Islam justifies collective violence which helps explain the genocides committed by some of Fish’s “safe” Muslim countries. But a society cannot easily escape the moral consequences of trivializing human life. By dehumanizing non-Muslims, Islam diminishes the value of human life. And this has consequences even for the Muslim population.
Apologists often point out that much of Muslim terrorism is directed at other Muslims. Similarly the license that Mohammed and the Koran provided for the robbery, rape and murder of non-Muslims has practical consequences within Muslim societies. Muslim violence finds the greatest justification when confronted with a non-Muslim population, as the horrifying events in Cologne remind us. But the lack of respect for human life embodied in Islam’s Jihadist ideal causes suffering even for millions of Muslims.
Islam provides a license for murder, robbery and rape in the eternal Jihad against non-Muslims. Is it surprising that some Muslims take this license and run with it?
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