Are Muslims inheriting Europe?

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As we discussed Halberstam’s notion of “time of reproduction” she explains that the “time of inheritance” connects the family to the historical past of the nation and “and glances ahead to connect the family to the future of both familial and national stability.” This concept led me to think about the “dilemma” of Europe and its Muslims today. This time of reproduction is not taking into account the massive changes the world population is going through. I am focusing on just one example: growing Muslim populations in Europe.

Unfortunately many politicians, thinkers, and citizens across Europe don’t believe that immigrants give a country dynamism, drive, new ideas as well as new blood. The topic of Europe and its Muslims is highly emotional. Europe has been particularly attractive for Muslim immigrants for several reasons. 1) Europe is modern, and has a rich and highly developed economy. Moreover, Europe’s infrastructure requires steady influx of manual labor to maintain itself physically and care for an ageing population. 2) Europe is geographically centrally located, and easily reached particularly from North Africa, Turkey, and the Arab States. 3) Many sending states are former colonies of European nations, and English, Spanish, and French are still spoken in these countries as first and second languages. As a continent, Europe is being changed from within by its immigrant population.

The number of Muslims in European Union countries today is estimated at 13-25 million out of 480 million, that is, 3-5% of the total population.  Also, there are more female than male immigrants.

There are some factors I thought of that challenge this notion of reproductive time in order to also have a time of inheritance. Globally speaking, by 2015 for the first time in human history a majority of the world’s population will live in the cities, and urbanization has generally contributed to the shrinking of populations. There is less space available in the cities than in the countryside, the result of which are smaller houses and less room for children. Furthermore, urban women are more likely to help in the support of their families, developing their careers, and working outside the home. The resulting tendency of this lifestyle is to give birth to a smaller number of children at a later age. Moreover, global careers opportunities are more attractive and potential parents prefer them to having children. Also, the influence of religion has also decreased; hence family planning and contraceptives are more common and easily accessible, as are abortions. The main incentive propelling millions of immigrants is the search for a better life, beginning with a better job.

It is worth remembering that 2.1-2.2 children per woman is the ratio needed to preserve the numbers of a given population.  It is the young foreigners in growing numbers who are filling the gap and replacing the aging Europeans in the workforce. It is their labor that sustains the growing numbers of retirees and aging people. These immigrants are also replacing the Europeans who will accept only “clean” jobs. In certain countries, whole sectors of the economy and many public services have become highly dependent on migrant labor and would collapse if those workers were no longer available. European governments have an obligation to explain to their citizens why they allow and even encourage this flow of foreigners.

PS, in class I said that in 50 years there would be no more Italian and that is totally wrong.
It was estimated that by 2010, Italy would be the “first culture in history” in which the number of people of 60 years and more will be higher than the 0-18 age group. So by the year 2050, the younger generations would only be 15.4% of the country’s population. Italy’s population today is 61.2 million but it is expected to go down to 43 million by 2050. So, the quote goes: “900 years from now and there will be no more Italians.” (aka I was off by 850 years)

This is a little outdated but I still think it’s pretty neat: http://www.poodwaddle.com/clocks/worldclock/

>> I took my facts from the book called Europe and its Muslim Minorities by Amikam Nachmani.

Maria Florencia Serra

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