Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Middle-Eastern Civilians More Murderous than American Ones?

Stuart K. Hayashi

I have often been told that Middle-Eastern Muslims should not be allowed to immigrate into the United States, because they are "culturally stuck in the Stone Age and murder is inherent to their culture."

When I ask people making such accusations to actually bother backing themselves up with statistics, they tell me that I'm just plain "ignorant of Muslim culture. If you weren't ignorant, you would understand that the Middle-Eastern culture enshrines murder and that Middle-Eastern immigrants carry that cultural baggage with them when they settle in the U.S. and Europe."

But if one is going to accuse an entire demographic of people of being murderous, one should actually look at the hard data collected on the number of murders. And it won't help to simply create a long list of all the murders ever committed by Muslims, because that doesn't put anything into perspective. That has no context. If one wants to prove that an immigrant from a Muslim-dominated country is likelier to commit murder than someone born in a Western country like America, then one should compare the murder rates of Muslim-dominated countries to Western ones.

When it comes to murder committed by the State itself, it is difficult to compete with an Islamic fundamentalist state like that of Iran or Saudi Arabia. For information on mass murder committed by national governments, one can check out information provided by Rudolph J. Rummel.

However, the story is different when it comes to the civilian populations of various countries, according to a chart provided by the United Nations Survey on Crime, which takes into account murders in general, as opposed to just "honor" killings.

The people who keep telling me about how Middle-Eastern immigrants are so likely to commit "honor" killings didn't provide me with statistics on this when I asked them for it last week, so I had to find this information myself. According to Human Rights Watch, one third of all the homicides in Jordan -- the Islamic country that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is from -- are "honor" killings.

Additionally, there were 400 "honor" killings in Yemen in 1997, and, out of the 812 homicides performed in Egypt in 1995, 52 were "honor" killings.

Expect some people to cite those statistics as proof that all Muslims are evil, without bothering to measures these figures against murders committed by non-Muslims or the number of Muslims who have not been charged with murder or domestic violence.

Inthe United States, where Muslims comprise only 1 percent of the population, there are 4 civilian-committed murders for every 100,000 people per year. That's a higher annual murder rate than in places like India, whose 144 Muslims comprise 13.4 percent of the population, the Muslim-dominated constitutional monarchy of Yemen, and Azerbaijan, which is 93.4 percent Moslem. The murder rates for India, Yemen, and Azerbaijan are all 3 civilian-committted murders per 100,000 people.

And Qatar,a Middle-Eastern nation that is 95 percent Muslim, the notorious Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia, which is 88 percent and which has seen attacks from particularly vicious Islamic terrorists, have the respective annual rates of civilian-committed murder: 1 per million per year (since the country has fewer than 1 million residents, this suggests that , occasionally a year may go by without any civilian-committed murders) 4 per million, and 1 per 100,000.

If these figures are corect, then that means that Qatar and Saudi Arabia have fewer civilian-committed murders than many of the more civilized countries that Middle-Easterners often migrate to: Norway (1 per 100,000), Denmark (1 per 100,000), Holland (the place where an Islamic fanatic murdered Theo Van Gogh, 1 per 100,000), the United Kingdom (1 per 100,000), and Canada (1 per 100,000).

It also means that Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia have fewer civilian-committed murders per population than even more countries that Middle-Eastern immigrants flock to: Australia (2 per 100,000), France (2 per 100,000 [my rightwing critics would have you believe that the riots in France prove the evil of Middle-Eastern immigrants, of course, but we have yet to see how this will affect the overall trend in France]), and Finland (3 per 100,000). And all these countries have fewer murders per person per year than the USA.

And let's return to the subject of Jordan, where one third of all homicides are "honor" killings. That comes down to an estimated average of 33.4 "honor" killings out of 100 civilian-committed murders per year in a country with a population of 5.759 million people. That's an annual murder rate of approximately 2 people per 100,000 per year.

And we can also revisit Egypt, in which there were a total 812 recorded civilian-created murders in 1995. If that were the number of people civilians murdered per year, in a population of 77.5 million, then that also comes to an annual murder rate of 2 per 100,000.

That would mean that even Jordan and Egypt have fewer civilian-committed murders than Finland, India, Romania, and the United States.

None of this is to say that you are less likely to be violently killed in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or Jordan than in the United States. The opposite is true! It's just that the party doing the vast majority of killing in illiberal, Islamic fundamentalist countries is the authoritarian government.

It it the autocratic states of Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, Sudan, and Iran that prop up the terrorists who have waged war against the West. Middle-Eastern immigrants flee to America, Finland, Holland, and Australia to escape from being executed by the State over something harmless like being homosexual, charging usury, or saying something blasphemous.

The point is not that Muslim countries are safer than America. They clearly aren't. The point is that, when somebody asserts -- without citing any statistics, mind you -- that allowing Middle-Easterners from Mohammedan countries to immigrate into Western countries will necessarily increase the Western coutries' murder rates, he doesn't make a rational case.

When my critics say that a Middle-Eastern Muslim immigrant is likelier to murder me than a native-born American, because that immigrant will "refuse to assimilate into American culture, and will isntead behave in America the same way he did in his home country," that rightwing critic refutes himself.

If an immigrant from Islamic Yemen is just as likely to murders someone when he's in America as he would be in Yemen, then there is a 33-percent greater chance of an American murdering that Yemenese alien than for that Yemenese alien to murder an American.

If my critics choose to dismiss the U.N. statistics I have cited, then I challenge them to come up with better, more reliable statistics. My critics can call me "ignorant of Middle-Eastern culture" all they want. The truth remains that, as long as my critics go along prattling about how letting Middle-Eastern peoples freely immigrate into the United States will necessarily increase the likelihood of my being murdered, their case will be based upon nothing but presumptions if they do not present any statistical data to support their inflammatory claims.