Sunday, July 8, 2007

Spain is NOT about to be overrun by Muslims.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Take this article by Aaron Hanscom at PajamasMedia, claiming that Spain is just another European country that is "hollow at its core," about to be overrun by Muslims.

Why do I say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing? Well, the fact is that Hanscom is clearly not ignorant about Spain. His wife is Spanish, he has visited Spain, he has spoken to quite a few Spaniards, and he is aware of current trends in Spanish politics. However, he has mistakenly let anecdotal evidence (like a conversation with his wife's uncle) convince him that Spain is going to be overrun by Muslims. Now he is afraid to move to Europe:

Then there was the discussion I had with my other brother-in-law and his girlfriend in Madrid. They asked my wife and me if we ever considered moving to Spain. We told them that our fear about the future of Europe was a main reason we never gave it serious thought. They agreed that tensions with Muslim immigrants would only increase in the future. However, they both still clung to the idea that Spain would be safer if it continued to keep its distance from the United States.
Hanscom, please reconsider your decision! The numbers simply don't support the theory that Muslims are going to take over Spain any time soon. According to the latest municipal census by the Spanish National Institute of Statistics (Jan. 1, 2007), the largest, and fastest growing, group of immigrants in Spain are Europeans from other EU countries.* This is largely due to a surge of immigration from Eastern Europe following the recent entry of Romania and Bulgaria into the EU. These Europeans recently overtook the second largest group of immigrants, South Americans, in size. Together, EU nationals and South Americans account for about two-thirds of all the immigrants in Spain. Let's not forget that South Americans tend to be heavily Catholic, have a high fertility rate, and speak Spanish (except for the Brazilians).

Immigrants from countries outside the EU, like Moroccans, actually make up a shrinking percentage of the immigrant population. Even if all Africans were Muslims, which they aren't, they make up less than 20% of the Spanish immigrant population.

Spain is not being overrun by Muslims. Now, I don't mean to dispute that Islamic radicalism is a problem. Look at Britain. Nor do I think Spain does a particularly good job integrating immigrants (it doesn't.) And it's true that Europe's low birthrates are causing lots of problems. But Hanscom's overheated article shows how easy it is to let a compelling narrative-- Europe is collapsing! The Muslims are coming!-- convince us of something that simply isn't true.

*The reason I am so intimately acquainted with Spanish immigration statistics is that I am a summer research fellow at Ursinus College, writing a paper on immigration in Spain and its effects on the Spanish economy.

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