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July 03, 2005

A Question on France's Future

I'm on the record as stating that France's Muslim community is no more likely to create an Islamic Republic of France than the United States' Catholic community was likely to create a Papal States of America. If anything, it may well be less likely, given European-style rates of religious observance and levels of intermarriage comparable to that of American Jews in the 1950s.

One thing that this community, younger and in the middle of a minor baby boom, will do is boost the numbers of those French of Muslim background, at least until intermarriage and immigration from other sources--eastern Europe? Latin America? China?--alters the makeup of the French melting pot again. This has already had some cultural repercussions, in the popularity of couscous and North African popular musics. It's open to question what further effect it will have, apart from continued interest in the countries of origin.

What's particularly interesting about France is that this country, at least as much as any other European country, is a particularly dynamic one. It is in the middle of a baby boom that, some suggest, will be responsible for three-quarters of the population growth that will bring the French population up to a respectable 75 million by 2050, ahead of Germany's projected 72 million. If this baby boom is overstated overall numbers will drop; if the amount of immigration is understated, overall numbers may well rise. (And yes, the baby boom appears to be equally distributed across France, not concentrated in a few immigrant-heavy areas.)

I'd like to pose a question to the readers of GNXP. Let's say that France's Muslim-origin population continues to evolve on the lines I've already stated, that the general baby boom will take place, and that there will be another wave of immigration to France. What will France's Muslim community look like? What will the French population in general look like? Or am I wrong on one point or all of them, and how?

Addendum from Razib: I've advised in the comments that people do some research before they offer opinions on the "Islam" topic. Since 9-11 there has been a lot bloviation about this with a tendency toward letting politics and values do the guiding, rather than facts and models. You see this whenever the "right-wing blogosphere" gets frothing over some bizarro anecdote (which are numerous) which pops up about an unassimilated Muslim. You saw it when some "left liberal bloggers" seemed to cream their pants as Randy posted some hard numbers on the Muslims of France which leaned toward a more optimistic view than the "inevitable Islamic Europe" you hear about from Mark Steyn & co. I'm really tired of all that crap...I wish people would get past the latest Bernard Lewis book (which are entertaining enough) and grapple with some of the reams of historical material out there.

To do my part, check out this on the expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain ~1600 (if the link doesn't work, it is page 144 of Infidels : A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam, use the search query "Moriscos castration").

Posted by randymac at 05:46 PM