Today there are almost 1.7 billion Muslims in the world, making up a fifth of the world’s population. Are Muslims a violent people by nature and a threat to world peace? The best way to answer the question is to calculate the numbers from credible sources – experts, Pew, Gallup, and academic studies.
1. Fact: There are only about a total estimated 100,000 militant extremist Muslims in the world. That is less than 0.01% of the global Muslim population of 1.7 billion people.
“The vast majority of the estimated 85,000 to 106,000 militants fighting with militant jihadist groups around the world are fighting for purely local reasons, for instance, trying to install Sharia law in northern Nigeria or trying to impose Taliban rule on Pakistan and Afghanistan, while only a small number of these militants are focused on attacking the West.”
Source: P. Bergen, National Security Analyst and E. Schneider, Research Associate: http://us.cnn.com/2014/09/26/opinion/bergen-schneider-how-many-jihadists/index.html
2. Fact: According to terrorism experts and studies, religion in general and Islam in particular is NOT the main motivator of terrorism; in reality, political conflicts, warfare, and social and economic instability are the main cause.
“What 95 percent of all suicide attacks have in common, since 1980, is not religion, but a specific strategic motivation to respond to a military intervention, often specifically a military occupation, of territory that the terrorists view as their homeland or prize greatly. From Lebanon and the West Bank in the 80s and 90s, to Iraq and Afghanistan, and up through the Paris suicide attacks we’ve just experienced in the last days, military intervention—and specifically when the military intervention is occupying territory—that’s what prompts suicide terrorism more than anything else.”
– Robert Pape, who has Studied Every Suicide Attack in the World
“Far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly. Many lack religious literacy and could actually be regarded as religious novices. Very few have been brought up in strongly religious households, and there is a higher than average proportion of converts. Some are involved in drug-taking, drinking alcohol and visiting prostitutes. MI5 says there is evidence that a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation.” (Source: MI5 Study: http://spiritualperception.org/the-tactics-of-bigotry/)
A new Study by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point revealed that the vast majority of almost 1,200 militants surveyed had no formal religious education and had not adhered to Islam for their entire lives:
“Religion is not the strongest driving force behind thousands of foreign fighters joining Isis and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, a report by US military researchers has found. A new study by the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point revealed that the vast majority of almost 1,200 militants surveyed had no formal religious education and had not adhered to Islam for their entire lives.”
“A French journalist’s ISIS captors cared little about religion, Didier Francois — who spent over 10 months as the group’s prisoner in Syria — told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview on Tuesday. “There was never really discussion about texts or — it was not a religious discussion. It was a political discussion.” “It was more hammering what they were believing than teaching us about the Quran. Because it has nothing to do with the Quran.” “We didn’t even have the Quran; they didn’t want even to give us a Quran.”
3. Fact: Most terror attacks in the Western world (Europe, USA) are committed by non-Muslims, yet terrorist attacks by Muslims receive 449% MORE MEDIA COVERAGE than other attacks from 2011-2015. This is per the findings of an academic study from Georgia State University quoted below:
“We examined news coverage from LexisNexis Academic and CNN.com for all terrorist attacks in the United States between 2011 and 2015. Controlling for target type, fatalities, and being arrested, attacks by Muslim perpetrators received, on average, 449% more coverage than other attacks. Given the disproportionate quantity of news coverage for these attacks, it is no wonder that people are afraid of the Muslim terrorist. More representative media coverage could help to bring public perception of terrorism in line with reality.”
Source: Kearns, Erin M. and Betus, Allison and Lemieux, Anthony, Why Do Some Terrorist Attacks Receive More Media Attention Than Others? (March 5, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2928138
DataGraver has documented the number and location of terrorist attacks from 1970-2015 and the results clearly show that most terrorism was not committed by Muslims and occurred in Western Europe, Central America and South America for much of the past until recently increasing in the Middle East – this being due to increased war, military intervention, and instability in the region beginning with the Gulf War and increasing since then:
4. Fact: The biggest victims of ISIS and Al-Qaeda ARE Muslims; and not surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of Muslims hate ISIS and al-Qaeda. To say otherwise – to claim that substantial numbers of Muslims support ISIS and other terror groups is like saying that most murder victims support their murderers, or that most rape victims support their rapists and in fact want to emulate them. According to a UN Report, ISIS “carried out attacks deliberately and systematically targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, with the intention of killing and wounding civilians.” The UN concluded that in the first eight months of 2014, at least 9,347 civilians had been killed and at least 17,386 wounded. While all these deaths are not attributable to ISIS alone, ISIS is identified as the primary actor.”
Source – UN Report: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/07/isis-s-gruesome-muslim-death-toll.html
5. Fact: The overwhelming majority of U.S. Muslims (78%) stated that it is never morally justifiable to target and kill civilians;
Meanwhile, only 38% of Protestants, 39% of Catholics, 43% of Jews, 33% of Mormons, and 56% of people with no religion/atheists/agnostics stated that it is never morally justifiable to target and kill civilians.
Source: Gallup Poll – https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/08/a-fascinating-look-at-the-political-views-of-muslim-americans/242975/
6. Fact: Muslims out of many other religious groups are MOST LIKELY to be against attacks on civilians and LEAST LIKELY to support violence against innocent people.
Source: Pew, Gallup and Populus Polls aggregated here: http://www.loonwatch.com/2011/08/surveys-show-muslims-in-every-country-less-likely-to-justify-killing-civilians-than-americans-and-israelis/
“Muslims hold no monopoly on extremist views and are, in fact, on average more likely than American public to unequivocally condemn attacks on civilians.”
– John Esposito, (Who Speaks for Islam, 94)
7. Fact: Bill Maher et. al. Are Selectively Misrepresenting Poll Data:
A Pew Poll found that 86% of Muslims in Egypt and 76% of Muslims in Pakistan believe in the death penalty for apostasy and cite this as evidence of violent attitudes among Muslims. At the same time, it is hardly acknowledged that 82% of Muslims in Indonesia (the most populous Muslim country), 66% of Muslims in Bangladesh (the fourth most population Muslim country), and 83% of Muslims in Turkey are opposed to the death penalty for apostates.
What is Apostasy? Some people claim that all Muslims and the Qur’an believe that anyone who changes his religion from Islam to another religion are guilty of apostasy and should be killed. Let it be very clear that the Qur’an contains no such law. The Qur’an repeatedly mentions: “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256), and “Let him who will believe and let him who will disbelieve” (18:29). The definition of “apostasy” in Islamic legal discourse is not about changing one’s personal faith or religion; apostasy is a political construct of pre-modern Muslim empires and meant treason against the imperial state and supporting another empire (like the Byzantines). More on this here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kashif-n-chaudhry/does-the-koran-endorse-ap_b_5539236.html and here: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/05/islam-saudi-apostasy-201458142128717473.html