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The unprecedented resurgence of radical Islam during the last five decades has been facilitated by certain major geo-political developments, of which demography is the foremost. Changes in the population profiles of a number of countries, reflecting a sharp growth in the population of Muslims across the globe during the twentieth century, has given a big boost to the ideology of radical Islam. Three important factors have contributed to the increase in Muslim population.
First, the Muslim societies have higher fertility rates due to non-acceptance of contraceptives because of the religious diktats of clerics who often use the scriptures to thwart the propagation of the small family norm. As a rule, most Islamic societies have remained steeped in orthodoxy. Therefore traditionally the Mullahs and Maulvis have always exercised strong influence on the Muslim masses. Their 'fatwas' against the small family norm and endorsements thereof by the community leaders have always carried considerable weight with the faithful.
Secondly, the absence of female emancipation in Muslim societies and their non-empowerment leads to a higher fertility rate resulting in rapid growth in numbers.
Lastly, extensive proselytizing activities of a number of Islamic missionary groups, especially the Tablighi Jamaat, a well-known rabid radical outfit, which has its main focus on the Indian sub-continent, south-east Asia and North Africa, brings substantial accretions to the numbers of Muslims by conversions every year, particularly in Africa and south Asia. Tablighi Jamaat has been winning new converts even in many countries of Europe, e.g., France, Germany and Spain.
The sharp increase in Muslim population has led to a sharp growth in the number of mosques and religious seminaries not only in Asia and Africa but even in the Europe which was till recently the heartland of secular Christian ethos. For instance, in Spain more than 100 new mosques have come up within the last few years, while there are 2000 mosques and prayer centres in Germany and a new one opening almost every day.(1)
The galloping growth of radical Islam owes a great deal to the extensive propagation of pan-Islamic movement for restoring the long lost glory of Islam, undertaken by the theocratic state of Pakistan during the last fifty years. As highlighted by Sir Pendrel Moon in his narrative, Divide and Quit, the two nation theory was first put forth by Syed Ahmed Khan in 1888 when he visualised a situation in which two separate countries for the Hindus and the Muslims will have to be formed after the departure of the British from the sub-continent.(2) But nothing much happened on the Indian sub continent during the next thirty years.
After World War I, the freedom movement launched by the Indian National Congress gathered momentum in the 1920s and early 1930s and the possibility of independence from the British rule or getting dominion status under the British suzerainty rose somewhat sharply. At that stage Allama Iqbal envisioned the creation of an Islamic state for Indian Muslims by partitioning India. Like Syed Ahmed he, too, argued that Islam was a separate nation, different from all other faiths, due to which reason Muslims could not live in peace and amity the with Hindus in India. He reasoned that it was time for the Muslims to demand a separate homeland by partitioning India. Basically the views expressed by Syed Ahmed in 1888, by Iqbal in 1930, by Chaudhary Rehmat Ali in 1942 and Alija Izetbegovich of Bosnia in 1970 have the same refrain - that the Muslims are a separate nation and due to cultural differences they cannot live with other religious groups in the same country. So they must secede and carve out their own homeland by forcing partition of the parent country. It is remarkable that for almost eight decades, from 1888 to 1970, from Syed Ahmed to Iqbal to Alija Izetbegovich, there has been no change in the thinking of Islamic leadership. If anything, during the last eighty years their attitude has hardened.
In the course of the twentieth century, Christianity swept through the continent of Africa where the proportion of Christians in the population rose to nearly 45 per cent from less than 10 per cent in 1900. Christians have also made significant gains in several countries of Asia, especially South Korea and Indonesia.(3) During the same period, Muslims have considerably increased their share in the world, going up from 12 per cent in 1900 to about 19 per cent in 1990. Their proportion in the population has improved dramatically in almost every part of the world; the gains have been especially significant in parts of Africa and in Indonesia in Asia.(4)
In fact, the galloping growth in Muslim population was the most defining event of the later half of twentieth century. Both in terms of absolute numbers and percentage increase the gains of Muslim community have been very sizeable, almost spectacular. No other religious group has registered such rapid growth in numbers. The phenomenal rise in the population of Muslims took place both in the Muslim majority countries as well as in other nation states where Muslims happened to be in minority Today Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world - even way ahead of Christianity. This major demographic change is likely to have far reaching consequences on the future of mankind, especially for those nations which are part of the universal civilization.
Next to the sharp increase in the Muslim numbers, the second most important development during the last five decades was the explosive expansion of militant Islam and global growth of Jihadi ideology in Muslim societies. An important aspect of this explosive growth of Muslim population is that radical Islamic groups are now fully alive to the fact that their numbers are growing very fast and that Muslims will soon constitute almost one-third of the world population by the year 2025 A.D., or even earlier. This has given a big boost to the morale and ego of Islamists whose leadership and ranks now hope to rule over the entire world, say after a few decades.
We are aware how inter-civilizational conflicts in the former Yugoslav republics have played havoc with the political stability of Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegovina. The single most important factor leading to these conflicts, however, was the demographic change that took place in Kosovo and Bosnia.(5) Kosovo was an autonomous province within the Serbian republic having the de facto powers of six Yugoslav republics excepting the right to secede. In 1961 its population was 67 per cent Albanian Muslims and 24 per cent Orthodox Serbs. As the Albanian birth rate was the highest in Europe, Kosovo became easily the most densely populated area of Yugoslavia. By 1980s almost 50 per cent of the Albanians were less than 20 years old. In view of the growing Muslim numbers Serbs emigrated from Kosovo in search of better economic opportunities in Belgrade and elsewhere. As a result, in 1991 Kosovo was 90 per cent Muslim and 10 per cent Serb.(6) Serbs tend to view Kosovo sort of their holy land or "Jerusalem", it being the site among other things, of the great historic battle on June 28, 1389, when they went down bravely fighting the Turks and as a result, suffered Ottoman rule for almost five centuries.(7) Ultimately due to sheer decline in numbers Kosovo was lost to the Serbs.
Something similar happened in Bosnia. In 1961 the Serbs constituted 43 per cent and the Muslims 26 per cent of the population of Bosnia-Herzegovina. By 1991 the population ratios were reversed. Serbs had dropped to 31 per cent and the Muslims had risen to 44 per cent. During those thirty years the numbers of Croats went down from 22 per cent to 17 per cent. Unfortunately, ethnic growth of one group resulted in ethnic cleansing by the other.(8)
The population changes in the Balkans have destabilized the geo-political equation between various countries of the region. Actually few other regions in the world, over the centuries, have been equally affected by population displacements. In modern times very few other regions bled out such a large proportion of its inhabitants. Jonas Widgren, a population migration expert, stated at the Europe's Council of Parliamentary Assembly Conference in September 2000, that the issue of population displacements and migration flows in the Balkans has to be considered in a wider European security perspective. Movements from the states in the region affect the security situation in the Balkans as well as in the entire Western Europe. Its security paradigm needs immediate attention of both the European Union and the NATO.(9) According to the estimates of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development nearabout 15 per cent of the population of the Balkan peninsula with its 75 million inhabitants have involuntarily been on the move since the political changes by the end of the 1980's, a very high percentage by international standards."
Population displacements are an effect of political instability and they create in themselves further instability."(10) It is believed that bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, with help from Iran, had recruited and trained quite a few brigades of blond, blue-eyed Bosnians and indoctrinated them for martyrdom in Islamist cause. Iran and Al Qaida terrorist network began recruiting and training Bosnian Muslims more than 10 years ago for war against Orthodox Christian Serbs and Catholic Croats in an effort to expand the Muslim base in Eastern Europe.(11) According to the former Congressional terrorism expert, Yossef Bodansky, there are many blond, blue-eyed Slavs among these Bosnian Islamists. Thousands of them were trained by the mujahideen and ultimately a number of them joined the international brigades.(12) Apparently dismantling the jihadists' training camps in the Balkans, after imposing peace plans that included power-sharing by the Muslims, was not considered a priority by the U.S. government. Therefore the sponsors of Islamic campaigns there have not decommissioned the jihadist forces in Bosnia, Albania and elsewhere in the region.
According to a 1992 report, Islam experienced an exceptional renaissance in Communist Yugoslavia in the mid-1970s. The revival increased the number of mosques throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina and led to a growing number of local youths being sent for higher Islamic studies in the Middle East, especially Iran, where in the Islamist classes of seminaries radical mullahs used to include some 250 Bosnians every year. A former government terrorism expert, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Iran was at the core of recruiting and mobilizing training of terrorists with Iraq, Pakistan and Syria playing key support roles. A report drawn up by the task force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the U.S. House of Representatives (TFTUW), found that the then Yugoslav government in Belgrade was quite concerned when it saw that within its 40 percent Muslim population there were groups of Islamic terrorists operating against the West and that Yugoslav Muslim youths were being drawn to emulating and cooperating with Arab terrorists.(13)
The Ayatollahs and Mullahs of Iran always looked at the Balkans as a prize to be won for the glory of Allah. The Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Welfare report revealed that Iran had declared the battleground of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a "microcosm" for resisting the West's war on Islam and had called for reinforcements from Islamic nations which included highly trained and combat-proven volunteers from Iran, Afghanistan, Lebanon and other countries. Bodansky, who was the director of the TFTUW, disclosed that bin Laden and al-Zawahiri also played a pivotal role in deploying and concealing the elite Islamist terror groups brought from around the Middle East and inducting them into the Bosnian army by setting up humanitarian front organizations to explain their presence.(14)
Although the U.S.-led Dayton Accords of 1995 called for foreign Muslim fighters to leave Bosnia, the majority of mujahideen scheduled to have left Bosnia still continue to serve in the army ranks of the Bosnia-Herzegovina. The mujahideen are divided into three clusters of operational units, while a fourth cluster is directly engaged in terror acts and other covert special operations. The TFTUW report revealed that special military units were built around a hard core of foreign mujahideen, while the rest of the troops were Bosnian Islamists. Presently training is being provided by the mujahideen who should have left Bosnia under the Dayton Accords and who, according to Bodansky, were activating Bosnian Islamists by reminding them that without jihadist support, "there would not have been a Muslim Bosnia ... We helped you, you come and fight for us."(15) A Washington Post report said that the Bosnian village of Bocinja Donja, which has 60 to 100 former mujahideen Islamic guerrilas from the Middle East, came under scrutiny when U.S. law-enforcement authorities discovered that a handful of these men who have visited or lived in the area were associated with a suspected terrorist plot to bomb targets in the United States on New Year's Day of 2000.
Bodansky, whose topical book, The High Cost of Peace, is a strong criticism of what he describes as the failed U.S. policy in the Middle East, feels that the U.S. policy lacks the forcefulness in dealing with the mujahideen problem in Bosnia by not forcing them out of that country, as envisaged by Dayton Accords. The failure to act allowed the Islamist military brigades to maintain bases in Bosnia and they continue to recruit and train Muslim forces for terrorist acts.(16) The continued presence of a large number of hard core foreign holy warriors adds a new dimension to the demographic turmoil spread all over the Balkans which can explode again.
The countries located in the region have lived through a series of faultline conflicts caused by civilizational frictions between Muslims and Orthodox Christians. There is hardly any possibility of the religious conflicts in this region dying down in the near future. Another notable example of the far reaching consequences of the religion-based civilizational faultline conflicts, caused by demographic shifts, is that of Lebanon, where the Maronite Christians have become a helpless minority in their own homeland, the land of their ancestors, within a short spell of sixty years - something similar to what has been progressively taking place in India's north-eastern state of Assam. The collapse in the early 1970s of the thirty year old constitutional order in Lebanon, under the National Pact of 1943, was in large part a result of the dramatic increase in the Muslim population compared to that of Maronite Christians. In the not-too-distant past Lebanon was a Christian majority nation. But within seven decades the Muslim numbers rapidly outgrew the Christian population thereby converting it into a Muslim majority state. In the year 1900 Christians constituted approximately 77 per cent of Lebanon's population while Muslims were barely 21 per cent.(17) By the year 1932 the Christians were reduced to near about 55 per cent. According to a 1943 agreement between Maronite Christians and the Muslims it was decided that the political authority will be shared by the two religious groups in proportion to their respective national populations. Posts of top ministers were to be shared in the ratio of six to five between Christians and Muslims corresponding to their population recorded in Lebanon's 1932 census. During the next twenty-five years Lebanon's demographic profile underwent a sea change in favour of Muslims. The result was that by 1975 Lebanon became a Muslim majority country. At present, the Christian population is approximately 30-35 per cent - their percentage could be even less. That is how an erstwhile Christian majority country, surrounded on all sides by Islamic nations, was completely swamped by the fast growing numbers of Muslims.
Buoyed by the growth in their numbers, the Lebanese Muslims managed to successfully curb the political rights and ambitions of the Maronite Christians for a share in the power by waging a devastating civil war from 1975 to 1990 in which the Muslims emerged victorious. Due to the huge squeeze caused by the growing numbers of Muslims and their increased aggression, since 1975, thousands of Lebanese Christians have been moving out every year to the U.S.A. and other countries, mostly in Europe. The squeeze on the Christian community in the Middle East is for real. Even in the Christ-nativity town of Bethlehem, the Islamization of which is actively backed by Yasser Arafat, Christians have lost their majority as never before in the history. In Jerusalem, now Christians constitute barely two per cent and face near extinction.(18)
As a rule, all demographic changes resulting in major alterations in the percentage of populations of different religious or cultural groups have the potential to increase social tensions and consequential friction between the interacting religious communities within that country or region and sometime even far beyond the region. Historically this broad principle tends to apply with greater validity where the demographically gaining community happens to be the Muslims. Whenever there was a noticeable increase in the percentage of Muslims in a region or state, socio-religious conflicts have invariably led to bloody confrontations, as is evident from the events which took place in Kosovo, Bosnia, Serbia, Chechenya, Cyprus and Indonesia, etc.
It has been experienced that even a sizeable increase in the proportion of Muslims in any country or region leads to a loud clamour, often culminating in a violent struggle, for a separate homeland by dividing that nation, even before Muslims attain the near majority status. Examples of Pakistan and similar secessionist movements launched in Cyprus, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechenya, Jammu & Kashmir and the Philippines support the above conclusion. As stated by Huntington, Islam is a more absolutist faith-even more than the Christianity. (19) It combines religion with politics and draws a sharp line between those living in the Dar-ul-Islam and those in the Dar-ul-Harb. The result is that Confucians, Buddhists, Hindus and Christians have less difficulty in adapting to and living with each other than any one of these has in adapting to and living with Muslims. For instance, ethnic Chinese have been an economically dominant minority in most Southeast Asian countries. Yet they have been successfully assimilated into the societies of Buddhist Thailand and the Catholic Philippines. There are practically no instances of anti-Chinese violence by the majority groups in those countries. In sharp contrast, anti-Chinese riots and violence have been frequently occurring in Muslim Indonesia and Muslim Malaysia, and the role of Chinese in those societies remains a potentially explosive issue in the manner in which it is not in Thailand and the Philippines.(20)
The global advance of radical Islam backed by international Islamist terror groups and the rapid growth of Muslim population during the last century are likely to hasten the pace of faultline conflicts in certain regions of the world which have been plagued by religious strifes for centuries. One such important region is the Middle East, or the West Asia, which has witnessed a series of multiple wars during the latter half of twentieth century. The tiny Jewish nation of Israel, occupying a 470 kms long and 135 kms wide stretch, which constitutes a meagre 0.2 per cent of the total area of Arab lands, is surrounded on three sides by hostile Muslim countries which have been trying to destroy it. According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, at the end of the year 1996 the country's population was 5,764,000 showing an increase of 2.6 per cent over the end of the year 1995. Israel's demographic profile in 1995 was 80.8 per cent Jews, 14.6 percent Muslims, 2.9 per cent Christians and 1.7 per cent Druze. The growth rate had dropped to .01 percent, i.e., 1/10th of 1 per cent in 1996 due to reduced immigration, with only 69,000 new residents coming during the year.(21) During the last eight years there has been a nominal change in the demographic profile. The present population of Israel is estimated at 6.4 millions of which 79.2 per cent are Jews and 20.08 per cent being Muslims, Christians and Druze. For decades the state of Israel has been facing gross acts of terrorism unleashed by the Palestinian groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Martyrs of Al Aqsa.
The conflict between the Jews and the Palestinian Muslims is a modern phenomenon but it has a hoary historical past stretching right up to the times of Prophet Muhammad who had thrown out a number of Jewish tribes, including Banu Nazir, Banu Kunaika, Banu Khaibar and some others from Medina and the adjoining Arab lands. The Jewish claim to this land is based on the Biblical promise to Abraham and his descendants on the ground that it was the historical site of the Jewish kingdom of Israel to which they will ultimately return. The ancient kingdom of Israel was destroyed by the Romans. They received another blow subsequently in the seventh century when most Jewish tribes were pushed out from their ancestral lands by the warriors of Islam. With the growth of national consciousness in the nineteenth century the Jews started coming together in search of a nation state of their own. The area comprising the cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Safad and Tiberias and nearabout where most Jews were concentrated was the most logical and optimal choice. At that time it was part of Palestine, which was ruled by the Ottomans. The Zionist movement began in 1882 with the first wave of European Jews migrating to Palestine.
Before their arrival, most Jews living in Jerusalem and the cities around it observed traditional, orthodox religious practices and spent their time studying religious texts and depended on the charity of the prosperous world Jewry for their survival. Their attachment to the holy land and to the seat of their faith, Jerusalem, was very deep and religious. But they were not involved in the Zionist movement which began in Europe and soon gathered momentum, after Theodor Herzl brought up the idea in his seminal pamphlet of 1896 title 'Der Judenstaat'. During his stay in Paris as a correspondent of Vienna's Neue Freie Prese, Herzl had heard a French Crowd shout "Death to Jews" at the trial of a Jewish army officer on trumped up charges of selling some military secrets to an enemy agent. Herzl thought over the reasons for such intense hostility against Jews in Europe, and came to the conclusion that the establishment of a sovereign Jewish state was the only solution to the problem of wide spread anti-Semitism in Europe. His writings on the need for a Jewish homeland led to the organization of the first Zionist Congress in Basle in 1897 where it was resolved to seek the creation of a homestead for the Jews "in Palestine secured by public law." Herzl could visit Palestine only once, just one year after the Basle declaration, when after a private audience at Constantinople with the German king, Kaiser Wilhelm II, he proceeded to Jaffa (a city of Israel, located close to Jerusalem) and led an official Zionist delegation to Kaiser Wilhelm II in Jerusalem.
By the time World War I broke out in 1914, the population of Jews in Palestine, mostly around Jerusalem, had risen to sixty thousands. Although in terms of the Balfour Declaration of 1919, the British agreed to the creation of the Jewish state of Israel, the promise materialized only in 1948 and that too when the Zionists took up arms to carve out their homeland. The modern state of Israel was born on May 14, 1948, with war raging all round, almost fifty-one years after the first Zionist Congress. The declaration of the creation of the Jewish homeland was read out by David ben Gurion, while standing beneath an impressive portrait of Theodor Herzl.
Since its birth in 1948 Israel has been caught in the throes of violent clashes and there is hardly any sign of resolution or abatement of the Israel-Arab faultline conflict. In addition, this region with practically little tradition of democracy, except Israel, has been breeding ground of Islamist terrorism. It continues to play home to a number of notorious terror groups like Al-Gama'a Islamiyya, Jihad Group, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Martyrs of Al Aqsa, PLO, Islamic Change Movement (Jihadi wing of Arabian Peninsula), International Muslim Brotherhood and many more similar outfits hostile to Israel. Many of these terrorist organizations have openly vowed to destroy Israel and stamp out Jewry from the land of its birth. Surrounded as the state of Israel is on all side by hostile Muslim neighbours, it is set to face a major demographic problem in the decades ahead. Since 1990 more than 600,000 immigrants have arrived in Israel, the majority from the former Soviet Union.(22) Thus in 1996 Israel had 4,657,312 Jewish residents, 841,544 Muslims, 167,156 Christians and 07,988 Druze. Since the Palestinian population in the former occupied territories in 1996 was estimated at between 2.2 million and 2.4 million, it meant that in the former mandate of Palestine (both Israel and the future Palestine state) there were close 3.5 million Muslims and Christians. Since the Palestinians in the occupied territories have one of the highest birth rates in the world, while the Israelis have one of the lowest, it is only a matter of time before the Palestinians inside Israel's borders and in territories under its control outnumber the Jews.
Once the state of Palestine is born, tens of thousands Palestinians living in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan as refugees will return. Whenever a final settlement takes place between Israel and Palestinians at least half of the Palestinian diaspora will seek to return, making Jews an instant minority within the borders of the former mandate of Palestine. It could even happen earlier because of the nearly invisible Jewish emigration to the U.S.A. and other countries. The extent of Jewish emigration could only be estimated by comparing the difference between those who arrived and those who departed from Israel's Ben Gurion airport, because the government does not disclose the emigration rate of Jews. That showed that the departures over the years were 600,000 higher than the arrivals.
The Israeli government's practice is to continue to count Jewish emigrants as residents of Israel so long as they visit Israel at least once every four years which strategy keeps the figure of Jewish population at a higher level.(23) At the same time the steady trickle of native-born Israelis leaving for the U.S., Canada and Australia for years now is being replaced by a stream of immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union who are moving in because they could not get decent jobs there. There could be 700,000 Israelis living in the United States alone in 1996. If most of them are counted as residents of Israel by the Bureau of Statistics, it would mean approximately 4 million Jews permanently living in Israel in 1996. It is, however, a sensitive subject and the Israeli government is simply wishing it away. Yet all admit that there will be more Muslims and Christians than Jews within the former mandate of Palestine by the year 2010. That is a reality which can't be ignored.
The Labor Party believes in living with the growing Muslim population within Israel's borders, but fencing off the much larger Muslim and Christian communities in the West Bank and Gaza into a Palestinian state. But the ruling right wing party headed by Ariel Sharon, has set its heart on building a massive 350 km long fence barrier despite a U.S. threat to reduce $9 billion in loan guarantees. Washington feels that the project prejudges the likely borders that should be decided in negotiations. Yet the construction work to complete the fence, something like an impregnable barrier cutting into Palestinian territory, is progressing at a fast pace to separate the West Bank from the main state of Israel. Despite the United States misgivings about the proposed barrier, Israeli government claims that the fence is absolutely essential to keep out the suicide bombers and terrorists. Palestinians call it a new "Berlin Wall" that cuts deep into the territory they want for their state.
In the third week of October 2003 the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution with an overwhelming majority, calling the sprawling network of fences and walls a contradiction to international law and directing Israel to stop and reverse its construction on Palestinian lands. But Israel vowed its resolve to continue the project saying that "the fence will continue being built and we will go on taking care of the security of Israel's citizens".(24) Obviously the less realistic Likud Party wants to keep all of the mandate, from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea, which would give the Jewish population full national rights as an occupation authority over an even larger Muslim and Christian population with no rights at all.(25) Wiser after the experience of stepped up terror attacks by Hamas, the Martyrs of Al Aqsa and other militant groups, the Israelis appear to be preparing for a long drawn out confrontation in the coming years.
It is difficult to find fault with Israel for constructing the security fence because of the growing cult of suicide bombers and galloping Palestinian population. The threat of Palestinian numbers outpacing the Jews is a real one. In the circumstances, it looks almost certain that for decades to come West Asia will continue to be a prime faultline conflict and war-prone region. The latest demographic changes in and around Israel will keep the Middle East on boil, and the region might continue to be a hotspot of perennial faultline conflicts for many more decades to come.
Surprisingly except Muslims, no other religious civilizational or political group has shown awareness of the significance of the latest demographic changes and their likely impact on the future of the democratic world. It is only now, post 9/11, that Pentagon has woken up to the threat which looms large on the world horizon. The manner in which Pakistan sponsored extremist groups have pushed forward their global agenda of jihad against the West and other democratic regimes like Israel and India, has raised serious apprehensions about the compatibility of certain aspects of the Islamic civilization with the democratic world which values freedom of religion, pluralism and tolerance, above everything else.
Although the world has moved ahead at a galloping pace since the times of Prophet Muhammad, somehow the Islamic societies continue to live in their fourteen hundred years old time-warp. The political ideals of Muslims across the globe remain inexorably focussed on their scriptures and look to the Quran and the Sharia for guidance even in matters concerning the day-to-day political governance and the rights and duties of the common people, both Muslims and non-Muslims, living and working in Muslim majority regimes. This often leads to friction between those believing in freedom and democratic values and views of the clergy. There is almost an unbridgeable divide between the ideals of freedom and pluralism cherished by the universal civilization and the sharia laws sought to be enforced by the clergy-dominated anti-pluralistic Islamic civilization.
As a latest example, one has just to look at what is happening in Iraq, after Saddam Hussein's defeat. There have been demonstrations in many towns, including Najaf and Baghdad, demanding that the new constitution of Iraq should be written in accordance with the wishes of the Shia clerics and cast in the mold of Islamic scriptures - on the pattern of Iran. This attitude, totally negating the choice of democracy and modernity in the scheme of governance, sums up the present day crisis of Muslim societies in many part of the world. Most Muslim countries are ruled by despotic kings or military dictators.
Experience shows that even if there are free and fair elections in Islamic countries, the torch-bearers of radical Islam are sure to emerge as winners. It happened recently in Pakistan where in the provincial elections of North Western Frontier Province and Baluchistan, suspected to be rigged in favour of a pro- Musharraf faction, the pro-Taliban fundamentalist party, opposed to Musharraf, known as the Muttahida Majlis-e Amal, won hands down. It also happened in the Muslim majority states of Northern Nigeria. In the hitherto moderate Malaysia, the PAS (Malaysia's Islamic Party) headed by Nik Aziz, has been gaining ground. Till a few years ago PAS was a small player in the Malaysian politics rooted largely in Kelantan province where it was in power. But in the year 1999 it captured another state, Terengganu, adjoining Kelantan and increased its tally threefold in the country's Parliament by winning 27 out of 193 seat. That demonstrates the growing hold of fundamentalist groups over Muslim masses even in the democratic or partially democratic countries. One has to see the deep imprint of rapidly growing orthodoxy in Kota Baharu, the capital of Kelantan in Malayasia where a beginning has been made by the government by banning drinking of alcoholic beverages by Muslims and shuttering the night clubs and bars. When during the day the Muezzin calls the faithful to prayers, the stores in the city switch off their music blaring stereos. All big stores and supermarkets have separate checkout counters for men and women so as to avoid any contact between the sexes.
The last five decades of the twentieth century have witnessed large scale religious revival across the globe among the adherents of various faiths. But religious revival has been the strongest in Muslim societies. A trend which has been a matter of concern to the world civilization is the pronounced tendency towards violence accompanied by the rising crescendo of the battle cry of jihad. This has re-stirred and reinforced the centuries old differences between various religious and cultural groups. The populations of two major proselytizing religions, the Christians and the Muslims, have increased substantially during the last hundred years. In the year 1900, the Christians were estimated at 26.9 per cent of the world population which grew in 1980 to 30 per cent. It meant an annual increase of 3.1 per cent. Muslims grew more sharply, from 12.4 per cent in 1900 to 16.5 per cent, as per another estimate by 18 per cent in 1980(26) "In the long run, however, Muhammad wins out", avers Huntington, because the Christianity grows primarily by conversion, Islam both by conversion as well as reproduction.(27) An example of the high reproduction rate of Muslims could be bin Laden, the role model of the resurgent Islamic youth, who is one of some 65 children of a Saudi construction magnate, Mohammed bin Laden.(28) According to another version, given by John Gray in his book, Al Qaeda and What It means to be Modern, Osama bin Laden is one of the 52 children of his father. Whatever the truth, the figures prove high reproduction rate of the Muslims. Bin Laden's father had a number of wives but never more than four at a time, a ordained by Islamic scriptures. Islam allows marrying new wives, while divorcing the old ones, subject to the rider that a Muslim should not have more than four wives at any time.
Reverting to the subject of population growth, it may be pointed out that the percentage of Christians in the world peaked at about 30 per cent in the 1980s, then levelled off, and is now declining. It will probably approximate to 25 per cent of the world population by 2025.(29) Due to their extremely high growth rate the numbers of Muslims are likely to touch 30 per cent of the world's population by 2025 and might grow further till the end of the present century. In addition to the higher reproductive rate, Muslims have fine-tuned the art of proselytization far more effectively than the Christian missionaries. The conversions to Islam in Africa, Asia and Europe alone are winning hundreds of thousand new entrants to Islam every year. A great deal of spade work in this connection has been done by the Tablighi Jamaat, an international Islamic missionary entity, which has its headquarters at Raiwind, near Lahore, in Pakistan, where it enjoys massive state patronage plus the support of the ISI. The Tablighi Jamaat, which receives huge funds from the Saudi regime and other Muslim countries, including Pakistan, has been working feverishly at grass roots level to win converts in India, Bangladesh, South-east Asia and Africa for the last fifty years. It has a number of offices in Europe, especially in France, Germany, Balkans, and perhaps in the U.K. as well. Tabligh has a sizeable presence in the U.S.A. where they had held a large conference in Chicago, Illinois, in 1988 when it managed to attract over six thousands Muslims from around the world. (30) A Pakistani scholar, Mumtaz Ahmed, felt that this was perhaps the largest gathering of Muslims ever in North America.(31) Fundamentalist clerics have been preaching militant Islam from thousands of mosques which now dot the Asian, African, European and American landscape. And the result is that frequent killings of innocent civillians in Israel, Chechenya, Indonesia Kashmir and the Philippines by xenophobic jihadi suicide bombers are increasing by the day.
Far more grim is the global demographic scene. A massive wave of rising Muslim populations across the globe, almost unprecedented in history, is building up. A large percentage of them will be young and therefore more aggressive and violence-prone. Apparently till now neither many nations nor demographers nor world statemen have taken note of this very significant phenomenon which could alter the geopolitical equations across the globe. There are, however, reasons to believe that the Pentagon, especially the Neo-conservative strategists, are seized of this development. An assessment of the impact of the fast-paced demographic changes in the profile of Muslim population during the next three to five decades which could cause multiple faultline conflicts gives an inkling of the mankind's future imperfect, if one considers the latest population trends.
The population growth rates (per annum) and total fertility rates (per woman) of Muslim countries are far above of those of non-Muslim countries. For instance, Saudi Arabia, the role model of the Islamic universe, has a growth rate of 3.38 and fertility rate of 6.15 per woman. Comparable figures for some other countries are Yemen: growth rate 3.42 and fertility rate 6.82; Afghanistan: growth rate 3.38 and fertility rate 5.6; Syria: growth rate 2.45 and fertility rate 6.98; Nigeria: growth rate 2.53 and fertility rate 5.4; Pakistan: growth rate 2.01 and fertility rate 4.1, Bangladesh: growth rate 2.06 and fertility rate 3.17. Similarly Iraq has a growth rate of 2.8, Libya 2.4, Indonesia 1.5, Malaysia 1.9, Morocco 1.64 and Tanzania 1.72 per cent. Most of these growth rates and fertility rates are well above the population replacement level; some like those of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia are abnormally high compared with non-Muslim countries - almost higher by mile-long margins.(32)
In sharp contrast the growth rates (per annum) and fertility rates (per woman) of non-Muslim countries are way below those of the Muslim nations, enumerated above. The United Kingdom has a growth rate of 0.3 and fertility rate of 1.66, France a growth rate of 0.42 and fertility rate of 1.85, Italy a growth rate of 1.37 and fertility rate of 1.26, Germany a growth rate of 0.04 and fertility rate of 1.37, Spain a growth rate of 0.16 and fertility rate of 1.26 and Russia, trapped in a population freefall, has a negative growth rate of -0.3 per cent and fertility rate of 1.33 per woman. Australia has a growth rate of 0.22 and fertility rate of 1.41 per woman. India has a growth rate of 1.47 per cent and fertility rate of 2.91 per woman (as compared to Pakistan's growth rate of 2.01 and fertility rate of 4.1 and that of Bangladesh's growth rate of 2.06 and fertility rate of 3.17). China has a growth rate of 0.6 per cent and fertility rate of 1.66 per woman. The growth rate of the United States of America is 0.5 per cent.(33) These figures reflect the dimensions of the demographic conflicts likely to overshadow the future of the democratic societies.
Within non-Muslim countries, too, there are substantial differences in the population growth rates and fertility rates of Muslims and non-Muslims - perhaps because of the scriptural sanction accorded to Muslims to have multiple wives, though not more that four at one time. The second reason is the huge gender discrimination resulting in non-emancipation and non-empowerment of woman in Islamic societies. For instance, in India the population growth rates of Muslims for the decadal census years 1981-1991 was almost fifty per cent higher than that of the Hindus and the Buddhists. Similarly the population growth rates of Muslims in the U.S.A., the U.K. and many other countries are much higher than those of other religious groups. There are reasons to believe that the relatively higher population growth rate and fertility rate of France, when compared to the neighbouring countries like Germany and Italy, could be due to the influx of a large number of Muslims from North African countries, who are believed to have a higher growth rate than French Christians. Among European countries, France has the largest concentration of Muslim population. It is already heading for a faultline conflict over the question of Muslim girls insisting on wearing head scarves (called "hijab") in schools and the practice of Muslim women wearing the veil in public.
This massive build up of the growing Muslim population in North Africa, the Middle East and the South East Asia has already started unfolding its wings and is spreading through the phenomenon of large scale movement of Muslims from one country to another, from one region to another and even from one continent to another. Growing numbers of human beings in any corner of the world invariably tend to seek extra space to settle down, require more food, grab new and bigger economic opportunities to earn livelihood and, above all, show a greater urge to seek recognition in the country's affairs and the comity of nations through the sheer size and strength of their numbers. For these reasons the growing numbers become restive and aggressive. That is the universal truth.
No one can deny that Muslim population is growing across the globe exponentially, almost at the rate of 2.9 % per year which is much higher than the overall growth rate of the world population at approximately 2.3 % per annum, including Muslim population. In the Maghrib (i.e., Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Morocco) between 1965 and 1990, a short spell of 25 years, the population almost doubled, from 29.8 million to 59 millions. In the same period Egypt's population increased from 29.4 million to 52.4 million. Both Maghrib and Egypt are totally Muslim territories. The population of Muslims in North African countries and the Middle East is truly bursting at the seams and many are steadily migrating in large numbers to Europe. Anyone visiting Europe can notice it, experience it and feel it.
In Central Asia between 1970 and 1993, population grew at an annual rate of 2.9 per cent in Tajikstan, 2.6 per cent in Uzbekistan, 2.5 per cent in Turkmenistan, and 1.9 per cent in Kyrgyzia. In the 1970s the demographic balance in the Soviet Union shifted drastically, with Muslims increasing by 24 per cent in a decade, while Russians (Christians) increased by only 6.5 per cent. Thus the decadal increase in Muslim population was almost four times the decadal increase in the population of Christians in terms of percentage.
In early 1990s the fertility rate of women in the Russian Federation was 1.5, while in the Muslim Central Asian nations, former members of the U.S.S.R., the rate was about 4.4 and the rate of the net population increase (crude birth rate minus crude death rate) in the late 1980s in the latter countries was almost five to six times that in Russia. (34) In 1980s Chechens increased by 26 per cent and Chechenya was one of the most densely populated places in Russia, its high birth rate producing both migrants and fighters.(35) In Russia the population - most Russians are Christians - is declining so precipitously that in January 2001 the Russian cabinet called for emergency measures to arrest what has been described as "the self-genocidal pattern of the last two generations".(36)
Despite growing pressure the Russian President Vladimir Putin declined to legalize polygamy, a measure that had been proposed by ultra-nationalist, Vladimir Zhirinovsky.(37) Others supported Zhirinovsky in promoting such a startling remedy for Russia's "birth dearth" perhaps alarmed by the growing Muslims in Chechenya and other areas. Zhirinovsky's faction called for a new family policy that would permit up to five wives per man - apparently a kind of one-upmanship over the Muslim who are allowed four wives by the Quran. More wives, he reasoned, would lead to quick population growth. But the ludicrous suggestion to opt for polygamy was rejected. It was a laughable anti-diluvian proposition, made ostensibly in the belief that polygamy will step up the Russian (read the Christian) population growth to match the galloping Muslim numbers in Chechenya and the adjoining countries, mostly former constituents of the Soviet Union. Interestingly the demographers looking at the population charts have dubbed the crisis "The Russian Cross".(38) In the year 2000 Russia's population fell by 900,000. Vladimir Kulakov, a population researcher notes that Russia's population is declining at an alarming rate for an industrialized country; it is down from 148 million three years ago to 145 million at present - a decline of three millions in three years. A study released by the state statistics agency, Goskomstat, painted a grim demographic scenario for Russia. Russia's population is imploding and could be slashed to half by 2050, making the country unable to man its economy or defend its borders. According to Anatoly Vishnevasky, head of the Centre for Demography and Human Resources, Moscow, Russia's ambitions are those of a great state, but they are no longer supported by demographic data. "There are too few Russians being born each year, and too many working adults are dying. It is a long term disaster". (39)
Russia's workforce has declined by 12 million over the past decade, and is likely to fall by another 10 million by 2015. Deaths among men are about seven times higher than among women. Russian men don't live to retirement, and Russian women are having fewer babies. The birthrate is currently 1.1 children per woman, far short of the 2.4 kids per woman that would be needed to sustain the population at zero growth.(40) According to Goskomstat's optimistic projections, Russia's population will plummet from the present 145 million to just 102 million by 2050. The agency's pessimistic scenario would see it cut by half, to 77 million. Most of Russia's Asian territories are heavily under-populated. It is already a problem to find labour for agriculture and industry in many parts of Russia. And how would Russia defend its vast borders without young soldiers? To stem the numbers haemorrhage, Russians must produce 2 million babies per year. But only 1.2 million babies are born each year. The Russian President, Vladmir Putin and his cabinet have stressed that the population crises represents an economic threat. Fewer people means fewer workers and fewer soldiers. Russia's population has fallen from 149 million a decade ago to just over 144 million today. Male life expectancy now stands at 59 years, with the average Russian woman living upto 72 years. (41) Demographic experts say that the country is losing one million of its population annually and the nose-diving is accelerating. The whole regions of Siberia and the Russian far east are already depopulated and new deserts are appearing even in former black earth regions of central Russia, according to Lev Gudkov, a demographer with the Russian Centre for Public Opinion Research. It is felt that Russia will not be able to maintain its industry, agriculture or the size of armed forces at this rate. Ever since the collapse of U.S.S.R., mortality rates among young males have risen to levels never before seen in peacetime. Mr Gudkov predicts that there could be one pensioner for every worker in Russia within 20 years. Not even a rich economy could survive that kind of strain.(42) Russian women, who are as well-educated and career- oriented very much like their Western counterparts, have been having fewer children since 1970s. Births now stand at 1.1 per woman, far short of 2.4 babies per woman that would be needed to stabilize the population. Unike some other Western countries which compensate for lower birth rates by permitting immigration which keeps the economies growing and tax revenues flush,
Russia did not have an immigration policy till now. Faced with a free fall in population at this juncture 'replacement migration' seems to be the only alternative. But the issue is politically so sensitive that Russian leadership dare not even discuss it. The proposed solution has been resisted even after the fall of the Iron Curtain because it can lead to immigration from the neighbouring Muslim countries and China which would be unacceptable to the Russian society. According to Yevgeny Krasinyev, head of the migration studies at the official Institute of Social and Economic Population Studies in Moscow, the only acceptable sources of immigrants were the Russian speaking populations of former Soviet countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States.(43) A tentative proposal to allow immigration restricted to five million Russian-speaking people from the adjoining CIS states over the next few years is being considered as a temporary replacement strategy to tackle the problem of manpower shortage. Such indeed is the plight of Russia trapped in a serious depopulation crisis that it does not have enough youth to run its factories and farms.
The fast approaching global waves of the Muslim population, especially in the southeast Asia, Middle East and North Africa, along with the manifestly disastrous consequences of the Russia "do it yourself genocide" should serve as eye openers to the family planning enthusiasts of India. The current economic stagnation of the ageing Europe and its inability to look after its pensioners must be read as a timely warning. The overall demographic changes resulting from a declining population could lead to some very complex and far reaching geo-political and economic consequences. The demographic change starts slowly, almost imperceptibly, and initially remains unnoticed. Most governments tend to ignore it. Once the declining trend builds up for a few decades it transforms into a strong current which becomes difficult to reverse. For example, in India this 110 years old trend has come to be highlighted only now due to the determined efforts of some demographers. Even now not many political leaders and intellectuals are aware of its long term implications for the future of the country.
First, once a regular trend of falling fertility rate has been established, it becomes very difficult, almost impossible, to reverse it. That is the experience worldwide. Any quick increase in population becomes almost impossible, even through the incentive of cash bonuses now being offered in many European countries. The obstacles to bringing about a rapid population increase in an ageing country are formidable. Once the proportion of old people, both men and women, has grown beyond a certain threshold, with a corresponding decline in the proportion and numbers of the young, there is no easy possibility of any rapid growth in population. Old men and women cannot procreate, while the proportion and numbers of young men and women gets shrunk too much, rendering it too ineffective for bringing about any noticeable surge in the number of births. In initial stages, the population growth compounds at a very slow rate - until it gathers momentum through a surge in the youthful population which takes, on an average, at least twenty years to materialize. Another constraint, a major one, is that the decisions about having more children or fewer children, depend largely upon the wishes of the individuals or the concerned couples. Governments can offer only incentives.
Second, fewer young people resulting from a population squeeze, will mean that there would be a shortage of young soldiers and officers who constitute the backbone of a country's armed forces. Countries like Russia, China, the U.S.A., India and Australia, having vast borders and far too big coastlines will find it extremely difficult to find enough young men and women for strengthening their defence preparedness, in case they blindly follow the ongoing trend of birth control through family planning. Both Russia and Germany are at present facing this problem because of the unimaginative population policies followed in the not so distant past - say thirty or forty years ago.
Third, declining numbers of young population means lower productivity and a lower GDP growth. It also means a smaller production of goods and services and lesser farm produce as well as a lower saving rate. Not many people realize that the capacity to save is a function of a person's productivity level and his earnings accruing therefrom. Again the level of investment, based on internal savings, is directly related to the total quantum of savings made by the individuals, the government and the corporates. A person's as well a nation's savings rate tends to increase or decrease depending on the pace of economic development and growth of Gross Domestic Product.
Thus a fertility rate, lower than the replacement level, has very serious implications both for a country's economic development and its defence preparedness. It may be recalled that Russia was the first country to legalize abortion in 1920. On reconsideration the Government reversed its policy in 1936 and prohibited abortions. But due to public clamour it was again legalized in 1955. Russia has perhaps the highest abortion rate in the world. Two abortions are performed for every three pregnancies, according to official figures. Russia's demographic death throes are a warning to all nations - particularly those with similar declining rates of fertility, Italy and Spain among them, caused by a virulent abortion and condom culture. Nations that ignore the agony of a depopulating Russia, might follow her to the brink of extinction. Mass migration of other ethnic groups invariably try to move into sparsely populated lands in search of new territories and natural resources.(44)
Vladmir Putin has been quick to recognize this threat. He is trying to tackle the grave crisis. The tragedy is that the a long-term secular trend of declining fertility now conclusively established in Russia will be difficult to reverse. It will be a herculean task. Perhaps another solution to the threat of de-population is to return to some sort of sexual morality. The governments of developing nations like India should try to learn from the Russian depopulation crisis. Wisdom lies in evolving strategic population policies specific to the development and defence needs which will strengthen the trend towards raising small families but not too small families either. The long-term objective should be twofold: first to meet the requirements of a developing economy; and second, to ensure effective defence preparedness. Strategic policies should be evolved which will ensure that the fertility rate is maintained well above the replacement level of 2.1.
Again if the future religion based conflicts are to be avoided, the population policy should ensure that the burden of family planning is equitably shared by all communities and religious groups. A sensible population policy would be the one which will ensure that there is enough working manpower available to provide a regular supply of young healthy men and women for the country's defence services and also that there is no shortage of enough working hands available within the country to run the nation's factories, farms and transport systems for sustaining a steady pace of growth in the GDP and the overall national productivity, both in the industry and the agriculture. A conscious effort should be made to ensure that the country does not fall into the trap of a declining population crisis like the one facing the ageing Europe and the shrinking Russia - graphically described as the "Do-it-yourself-genocide".
During the coming decades the increasing population in the Muslim heartlands will also significantly impact the countries and regions where Muslims are in minority. In some countries like Macedonia, the Muslims are likely to become a majority within next twenty to forty years because of their higher fertility rate - just as it happened in Lebanon. According to the latest figures given in the CIA's Worldfact Book, the percentage of Muslims in Macedonia has now sharply risen to 30, while that of Christians is steeply down to 67. The comparative percentages in the year 1900 were 8.39% Muslims and 90.67% Christians.(45) The result of a sharp upswing in Muslim population was that the year 2001 saw a violent Muslim uprising led by the Albanians who have been silently trooping into Macedonia, just as Bangladeshis have been entering India. All major demographic changes like these, first faced by Lebanon and now taking toll in Macedonia are likely to upset the geo-political balance even in the adjoining countries and accentuate faultline conflicts resulting in tectonic socio-political upheavals.
According to Oriana Fallaci, a well known political analysts and author, today Europe has more than 16 million Muslims and their numbers are growing fast. She bemoans that the Europe was no longer Europe. It looks like a province of Islam, as Spain and Portugal were at the time of the Moors. It hosts almost 16 million Muslim immigrants and teems with mullahs, mosques, burqas and chadors and perhaps hosts thousands of terrorists.(46) It seems that after fifty years from now the Italian population will stand greatly reduced. The United Nations has virtually called a red alert with shocking statistics: the average number of children an Italian woman could expect to bear in her life time is now down to 1.2. By 2050, Italy's 56 million people are likely to thin down to 40 million.(47) Islam is already the second religion of almost every European state - the only exceptions being European countries like Azerbaijan and Albania where it is already the majority religion. Fertility rates across Europe are now so low that the continent's population is likely to drop markedly over the next 50 years. In fact, these bald statistics are being looked at with horror by much of the white western Europe - their women just aren't having enough babies any more. From the United Kingdom to almost every country of the mainland Europe, a message has gone out that it is time to produce more babies to move out of the trap of "birth dearth". Several European governments are suddenly announcing baby bonuses which is a cash in hand scheme somewhat successfully tried in France and Sweden. Now the baby bonus scheme has been adopted by Italy, too.(48) The U.N. whose past population projections have been fairly accurate, predicts that the world's population will increase from over 6 billion in 2000 to just 8.9 billion by 2050 and might stabilize around that level. During the same period, however, the population of the 27 countries that should be members of the EU (European Union) by 2007 is likely to fall by 6% from 486 million to 454 million. For countries with particularly lower fertility rates, the decline is dramatic. By 2050 Spain's population may drop from 40 million to 37 million. Germany, which currently has a population of around 80 million, could find itself with just 25 million inhabitants by the end of the century, according to recent projections by the Deutsche Bank, which adds that even assuming a statistically high annual immigration intake of 250,000, Germany's overall population could decline to about 50 million by 2100. If these trends continue, by 2020, or even earlier, more than ten per cent of the Europeans could be Muslims. The percentage could even rise higher because of the likelihood of increased migration from North African countries and West Asia because of the growing pressure on their economies due to rapid increase in population of those two regions. The southern tip of Europe is separated from North Africa only by the Mediteranean.
The changing demographic picture has produced enormous political uncertainty in Europe due to fears of being outnumbered by immigrant Muslims. At the same time, the problem has other fall outs in the economic sphere. Due to the phenomenon of ageing population, Europe has been economically stagnant almost for the last three years. The governments have no option but to enforce unprecedented cutbacks in pensions and social benefits. This led to crowds of angry demonstrators marching in European countries whose governments, reacting to the shift from youth to the aged, are moving to reduce social services, including the pensions that millions have been counting on for their golden years.(49). One study by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington, predicts that the median age in the United States in 2050 will be 35.4, only a very slight increase from what it is now. In Europe, by contrast, it is expected to rise to 52.3 from 37.7 years.(50) The likely meaning of this" stunning difference," as the British weekly, The Economist, called the growing demographic disparity between Europe and the United States, is that American power - economic and military - will continue to grow relative to Europe's, which will also decline in comparison with other parts of the world like China, India and Latin America.(51)
With its population not only aging but shrinking as well, Europe seems to face two broad possibilities: either it will have to make up the population shortfall by substantial increases in immigration, which would almost surely create new political tensions in countries where anti-immigrant parties have gained strength in recent years or it will have to accept the fact of becoming older and smaller and therefore, as some have been warning, far less influential in world affairs.(52) Underlining the seriousness of the problem created by large ageing population, Bernd Raffelhuschen, a member of the German governmental commission studying pension reform said that just now Germany had two working people supporting one retired person. By the year 2035 or so, every working hand will support one retired person.(53)
But the biggest problem facing the Europe is the growing fear, perhaps a genuine fear, of being outnumbered by the immigrant Muslims in the long run. It has caused much disquiet in many countries of western and southern Europe where it has become a highly emotive topic. The fear could manifest itself in the form of violence as was witnessed during rioting in some parts of England in the summer of 2001. In June 2003 a booklet was circulated by a U.K.-based think tank 'Civitas' which warned against the growing threat from Islamists. It urged British Muslims "to accept values of liberal democracy as Hindus, Sikhs and others" have done.(54) The think- tank advised that fanatical religious leaders who preach hatred of Western values should be prevented from coming to work in British mosques and felt that radical Islam was incompatible with democratic values and should be disavowed by the British Muslims. It also called for an immediate reform of the immigration procedures to prevent any more influx of Islamist idealogues. Two central concepts from traditional Islam, Sharia and Jihad, have been revived and extended by modern Islamists in ways which were incompatible with the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, said the report titled "The West, Islam and Islamism".(55)
The traditionally liberal and secular societies of Europe have seen an increase in support for far-rightist political parties in recent years, like France's National Front led by Le Pen, the Northern League in Italy, the Freedom Party in Austria, the Pim Fortuyn List in the Netherlands and the People's Party in Denmark. The only European countries which are growing in population are Muslim Albania and Catholic Malta. Countries like Spain are trying to restrict entry of migrants through their borders and are contemplating stricter scrutiny of migrants and even some action against third world countries from where they come or the countries through which they pass. What has caused greater concern to the strategic thinkers and political analysts is the steep decline in the fertility rates all across the Europe; it is 1.21 in Italy, 1.19 in Spain, 1.34 in Germany, almost everywhere below the replacement level of 2.1. The precipitous decline in fertility rate bodes ill for the future of Europe. The fact that the population of democratic countries is declining has generated a fear that many of the European countries will be overwhelmed by the growing Muslim numbers in the decades ahead. It had been highlighted as early as November 1997 that 79 countries worldwide were declining both economically and militarily because of low birthrates. By the year 2015, an estimated 67% of all people will live in countries with fertility rates at or below replacement level. (56)
The fearsome rumblings of the declining fertility rate are being felt as far away as Australia where fertility rate has fallen to 1.8 per woman. Australian National University demographer, Peter McDonald, said Australia's low fertility rate could cause a 40% decline in population over the next century, dropping to less than 11 millions.(57) Peter McDonald further stated that the falling fertility rates in the Europe and Japan were resulting in massive growth of ageing populations which governments could not afford.(58) Federal Opposition spokesman on population, Martin Ferguson, asserted that Australia's Labor Party would establish an Office of Population. Couples will have to produce more babies. Otherwise Australia would face serious demographic problems - by 2021 there will be one retired person for every 3 1/2 working.(59) In Australia, too, the declining fertility rate threatens to become a roadblock for rapid development. Additionally the fast growing population of Muslims in the neighbouring Indonesia and militancy in the Philippines has been causing a certain degree of anxiety to the political leadership. The gravity of the situation could be assessed from the fact that on April 19, 1999, Victorian Premier Mr. Kennet told an audience of school girls that Australian women were not producing enough babies. He told students of Melbourne's prestigious MacRobertson Girls' High School that while surrounded by near neighbours having huge populations, Australian women produced only 1.8 children each on average. Australia has an ageing population and "women were not producing enough children to simply maintain the desired population levels," Mr Kennett told the giggling girls.(60). We have seen the far reaching consequences of the rapid demographic changes on the socio-political fortunes of several countries and continents. The faultline conflicts which rocked Lebanon and the Balkans, solely due to certain changes in the religious complexion of populations, are recent history. Lately, the indigenous inhabitants of Europe and Russia are finding it difficult to cope with the problem of rapidly declining populations. Their economies as well as defence preparedness are under serious pressure.
How does India fare in the overall demographic scenario? Just now, India might appear to be placed in a fairly comfortable position. But that is both a temporary and illusory respite. In another three to five decades India, too, is likely to be caught in a demographic bind, because a secular trend of decline in the population of Indian religionists (i.e. the Hindus, the Sikhs and the Buddhists) has already been established during the last 110 years which is now gathering momentum. Recently three demographers and sociologists, A.P. Joshi, M.D. Srinivas and Dr. J.K. Bajaj have carried out an in-depth research into the changing demographic profile of India. They have analysed the increases and declines in the religious population of the undivided sub-continent (i.e., India, as it existed before 1947), the population trends in the present Indian state and in the states of Pakistan and Bangladesh, and attempted to make demographic projections for the future.
Some conclusions arrived by the three researchers by means of empirical studies might raise the hackles of the self-styled secularist academia because of the emerging prominent trait of rapid growth of Muslim population in percentage terms. The study titled "Religious Demography of India", published by the Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai (India), highlights the likely far reaching changes in the religious complexion of India's population during the next four to five decades. The most important conclusion arrived at by the study is that the fertility rate of Muslims in India as well as Pakistan is substantially higher than that of the Hindus - the term used by the researchers is 'Indian Religionists' which includes the Hindus, the Sikhs, the Jains and the Buddhists. An analysis of the census data of pre-independence era, from 1891 to 1941 shows that in every census the number of children per woman of childbearing age for Muslims was at least 12 per cent higher than that of the Hindus. For the year 1901, the difference was 20 per cent.(61) Another striking feature is the prominent long-term trend of continuous rise in the percentages of Muslim and Christian population for six decades, i.e., from 1881 and 1941 in undivided India, i.e. the pre-independence era. During those sixty years, the population of Indian Religionists, i.e., the Hindus, the Sikhs and the Buddhists, declined from approximately 79 per cent to 73.67 per cent in the sub-continent, while that of the Muslims increased from approximately from 20 per cent to 24.3 per cent in undivided India and of the Christians from 0.71 per cent to 1.9 per cent. Among Indian Religionists, the only group which gained were the Sikhs whose proportion rose from 0.74 to 1.46 per cent during those six decades.(62) The post independence census data of the Indian Union for the past four decades, from 1951 to 1991, reveals that in percentage terms the population of the Indian Religionists (the Hindus, the Sikhs and the Buddhists) declined from 87.2 per cent in 1951 to 85 per cent in 1991, while that of the Muslims rose sharply from 10.4 per cent to 12.5 per cent during the same period. The percentage of the Christian population remained almost static, it being 2.33 per cent in 1951 and 2.32 per cent in 1991.(63)
The most noticeable aspect is the persistent decline in the proportion of Indian Religionists in the population of the Indian sub-continent (i.e., India, Pakistan and Bangladesh bracketted together) throughout the long span of 110 years from 1881 to 1991. What should cause concern is the finding that the decline not only continues but also became sharper after partition. In the 60 years span between 1881-1941, the proportion of the followers of Indian religions declines by 5.5 per cent, from 79.32 to 73.81 per cent. In the forty years after partition, between 1951-1991, the proportion of Indian Religionists declines by another 5.06 per cent from 73.09 to 68.03 per cent.(64) The defining feature of the religious demography of the Indian sub-continent during the last 110 years for which census data is available is the distinctly lower growth of followers of Indian religions as compared to Muslims and Christians. Between 1881 and 1991, the population of Indian Religionists in the sub-continent grew by a factor of 3.7, while that of Muslims grew at 6.5 times and Christians by as much as 12.3 times.(65) Such substantial differences in the rates of growth persisting over such a long period have led to the percentage of Indian Religionists in the population of the sub-continent (i.e India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) declining from about 79.3 per cent in 1881 to 68.0 per cent in 1991. The percentage of Muslims during the same period rose from about 20 to 30 per cent and that of Christians from 0.7 to 2.0 per cent (66) The share of Indian Religionists in the population of the sub-continent thus dropped by more than 11 percentage points and of Other Religionists increased correspondingly.
Such large changes in the religious composition of a compact geographical region could lead to grave consequences for the Indian people. Similar changes had led to partition of the country in 1947. Persistence of these differentials will cause significant changes in the religious profile of the sub- continent.(67) These could cause serious religion-based conflicts. According to the census report of 1991, the population of Muslims in the Indian union has shown an overall growth of 32.76 per cent during the decade between 1981 and 1991 which is far higher than the average national growth rate of 23.79 per cent. The census figures of 1981-91 showed that Muslims comprised 12.12 per cent of the country's total population of over 81.61 million.(68) The Hindus on the other hand recorded a slower rate growth at 22.78 per cent during that decade and now constitute only 82 per cent of India's total population. It meant that in percentage terms during the decade the overall growth rate of Muslims was almost one and a half times that of Hindus. At this rate it is only a matter of time, say four to five decades for demographic changes to cause a chain reaction of multiple faultline conflicts of the kind which overtook Lebanon and Bosnia, leading to civil wars there.
To a serious student of Indian polity it should be obvious that lately in India there has been a sharp increase in the hostility between the two communities. Perhaps the increasing incidence of religion-based faultline conflicts in several parts of India could be ascribed to the sharp demographic changes, more than any other development. The higher fertility rate of Muslims apart, the last three decades have seen a massive illegal immigration of Bangladeshi-Muslims which has led to a big increase in communal tension and socio-political fissures in many parts of the country, especially in Assam and other parts of north eastern India. It can be safely presumed that the trend will gather momentum in the years ahead, as it did in Lebanon, Bosnia and Macedonia. Unfortunately in most developing countries, including India, there is little awareness among people that during the last ten years the thinking about the goal of family planning has radically changed. The focus has distinctly shifted from mere reduction in the numbers of new borns to the welfare of the child and the mother. Countries like India must work at a fast pace for eradication of illiteracy, ensure provision of quality education to its sons and daughters, matching the very best in the world, and mount an all out campaign to rid the society of obscurantism and sloth. Only then can India move ahead. According to Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, between 1900 and 2000 A.D., world population grew from 1.6 billion to 6.1 billion persons. While, the world population increased nearly four times, the world's real gross domestic product increased 20 to 40 times, allowing the world to not only sustain a four-fold population increase, but also to do so at a vastly higher standard of living.(69)
Along with the phenomenal demographic changes resulting from a higher fertility rate of Muslims, the last four decades have witnessed large scale mass movement of people across many countries and continents. But the scale of movement of Muslims from their traditional geographical regions, where they are in majority, to other regions and countries where they constitute a minority group has been very high and almost dramatic. It is basically due to their exploding population numbers caused by high birth rates. There has been an influx of a large number of Muslims from several countries of Asia and Africa into Europe, U.S.A., Canada, Australia and other areas. Also there has been a huge movement of Muslims from Bangladesh into India. The numbers of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and their progeny in India, mostly Muslims, is now estimated to be approximately 30 million. Large scale migration of Muslims has already disturbed the demographic equilibrium in certain sensitive regions of the world of which the Balkans, western Europe and India appear to be the worst affected. In India this development has already raised communal tensions - and perhaps, in Europe, too if that frank and outspoken author of Italian origin, Oriana Fallaci, is to be believed.
America has been a multi-religious and multi-ethnic country all along. During the last three decades it has witnessed a sharp increase in the population of Muslims, largely through immigration. It is believed that the numbers of Muslims in the United States grew sixfold between 1972 and 1990. According to one estimate, in North America the Muslim birthrate is nearly three times the average U.S. family. Muslims now form the largest minority religion in the United States with an estimated 6 million followers.(70) An estimated 400,000 Muslims live in the Chicago area. The number of mosques in America has grown from a relatively small number in 1960 to more than 2,000 today, according to Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council of American-Islamic Relations. Chicago has nearly 90 mosques and the number of Muslim families in Naperville has nearly doubled to 500 in the past five years, according to Kareem Irfan of the Council of Greater Chicago.
Though the claim that there are six million Muslims in the U.S.A. is being contested, the fact that there has been a massive increase in their numbers lately, remains uncontested. Writing in National Review, Steven A. Camarota, points out that the number of Middle Eastern immigrants in the U.S. has grown eightfold from 1970 to 2000, and is expected to double again by 2010.(71) This growth could have significant repercussions for America's homeland security and might even impact the U.S. support for Israel.(72) Then there are serious long-term implications. The Centre for Immigration Studies has issued a report of this group of immigrants, based on Census Bureau data in which Middle East is broadly defined as running roughly from Morocco to Pakistan. While the overall size of the foreign-born population has tripled since 1970 and now stands at 31 million, the number of immigrants from the Middle East increased more than twice as fast - from fewer than 200,000 in 1970 to nearly 1.5 million in 2000.(73) The INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) estimates that about 10 per cent or nearly 150,000 of them are illegal aliens.
The new Middle Eastern immigrants are not just more numerous than the old but also very different in religion. Till 1960s the Middle Eastern immigrants were mostly Christian Arabs from Lebanon or Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks and other Christian minorities fleeing from predominently Muslim countries. In 1970 only 15 percent of Middle Eastern immigrants were Muslims, but by 2000, the percentage grew to almost 73 percent. Between 1970 and 1990 the population of Christians in the U.S.A. declined from approximately 91 per cent to 85.69 per cent, while that of Muslims increased from 0.38 per cent to 1.40 per cent.(74) But this trend of rapid increase in Muslim population of U.S.A. is now likely to be reversed because of the operation of a stringent legislation, effective January 2003, requiring all migrants from 12 Muslim countries and North Korea, deemed to be potential source of terrorism, to register themselves with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service. Natives of Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, U.A.E., Yemen and North Korea, in the age group 16 to 45 years will be fingerprinted and photo-graphed and their visa documents inspected. Unofficially a big squeeze is also being applied on intending migrants even from friendly countries like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as a measure of national security. The new registration procedure is in line with the revised rules now being applied to scrutinise applications for visa from several Muslim countries. The measure has been welcomed by the American public who are convinced that in the context of the growing menace of international Islamist terrorism, it is perfectly legitimate to keep out the citizens of countries which may harbour terrorists.
There were some complaints that in trying to enforce the new law vigorously, the INS officers in South California sometimes arrested, handcuffed and detained several hundred men and boys, for suspected immigration law violations because they happened to be suspected from terror-sponsoring countries. It is believed that more than 13,000 of the Arab and Muslim men who came forward earlier this year to register with immigration authorities - roughly 16 per cent of the total - may now face deportation.(75) Only a handful have been linked to terrorism. But of the 82,000 who registered, more than 13,000 have been found to be living in the country illegally. Many had hoped to win leniency by registering and demonstrating their willingness to cooperate with the government's campaign against terror. The men were not promised special treatment, however, and officials believe most of them will be expelled in what is likely to be the largest wave of deportations after the September 11, 2001, attacks. The government has initiated deportation proceedings, and in immigrant communities across the country, an exodus has already begun.(76) The acting Director for Interior Enforcement at the Department of Homeland Security, Jim Chaparro, clarified that there has been a major shift in priorities. He said that some people may not like the change, but that is what the U.S.A. needs to do. If a loophole can be exploited by an immigrant, it can also be exploited by a terrorist.(77) Miffed by the harsh measures, some Attorneys for immigrants have also accused officials of practising selective enforcement by targeting immigrants from Arab and Muslim countries. But the Bush administration is not bothered. It is going ahead with rigorous implementation of all Homeland Security measures. Over a period of time these measures will slow down the growth of Muslim population in the U.S.A. by impacting the immigration from Islamic nations.
At the same time, the Pentagon is very alive to the problem of depopulation facing the Europe and Russia. In late 1980s, the U.S. Department of Defence had commissioned quite a few studies into the effects of worldwide population trends for assessing America's ability to influence events abroad. One of these was published in a summary form in the Spring 1989 issue of the Washington Quarterly, a journal of the influential Centre for Strategic and International Studies. The overview, which had been compiled by Gregory D. Foster, an Instructor at the National Defence University in Washington, was described in the publication as having been drawn, sometime verbatim, "from the commissioned papers" which were presented to the Commission on Integrated Long-Term Strategy, under directions of the Office of the Director of Net Assessment at Department Of Defence. (78) The study was prefaced with the critical observations that the circumstances do not permit Americans the luxury of ignoring events until they occur simply because the tools of prognosis at their disposal are rather ill-developed. In fact, the looming resource constraints required higher levels of prescience by the United States in handling its global affairs. It was therefore necessary, even if a little daunting, to look once again into the future, may be to the end of the first decade of the next century, to assess the importance of the matters concerning the world population to the security interests of the United States.
The report alerted the Pentagon to the stark reality that "demographic developments promise to have a material effect on the general complexion of the world" during the next two decades.(79) By the year 2010 the world will have roughly 7 billion inhabitants of which 81 per cent will reside in the Third World. On the important issue of demography affecting the size and composition of military establishments around the world it underlined two important aspects. First, declining fertility rates will make it increasingly difficult for the United States and its NATO allies to maintain their defence forces at current levels. Second, high fertility rates in developing countries, if not matched by a commensurate growth of jobs, could lead to expanded military establishments in the affected countries as an alternative to arrest unemployment. In other words, where labour forces are significantly under-employed, military establishments may have a built-in momentum to capitalize on the unused manpower for purposes of both internal and external security. While population changes may or may not alter the international balance of power over the next two decades, it looked almost certain that the types of conflicts likely to predominate in the years ahead will be manpower-intensive regional conflicts. That might give more power and influence to the developing countries over a period of time.(80) Some other important conclusions reached by the study were as follows:
High birth rates lead to large increases in the size of the economically active population (EAP) and if the distribution of global resources remains unchanged in the face of such far reaching demographic changes, it could result in waves of rising discontent and conflicts across the globe.
A second military report on demographic trends was prepared in 1991 for the U.S. Army Conference on Long Range Planning, by Nicholas Eberstadt of the Harvard University Centre for Population Studies. According to Eberstadt, who is also a Visiting Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, the changing demography of the world constitutes a major threat to the western domination. The study, which was reprinted in the Summer 1991 edition of the Council on Foreign Relations journal, Foreign Affairs, pointed out that virtually all current population projections anticipate comparatively slow population growth in developed regions, that is Europe, Russia, Japan, North America, etc., and correspondingly higher growth for the less developed regions, which means the rest of the world. If these trends continue for another generation or two, the consequences for the balance of world power could be enormous.
A very important conclusion, based on the statistics culled from the Development Research Centre at the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), was that per capita income in most developing countries has risen with population increases thus giving those nations a vastly greater share of global prosperity. Citing the examples of Asian and Latin American countries, the study acknowledged that the per capita output in those regions rose by a factor of more than four between 1900 and 1987. Though the population of nine Asian countries in the sample more than tripled during this period and the population of six Latin American countries rose nearly seven times, the per capita output rose more dramatically - by a factor of more than three for the Asian group and by nearly five for the Latin American group. Briefly, taking the Latin American example, the population increased nearly seven-fold in the first eight decades of the twentieth century, while per capita income rose by a factor of five, meaning thirty-five times. It showed that the period saw Latin American nations on the average enjoying a thirty-five fold increase in wealth - as a result of having seven times more people and an average gross national product five times greater, on a per person basis. Like the earlier study of the Department of Defence, the U.S. Army Conference cautioned that the presently powerful nations will, as populations age and shrink, gradually lose the ability to direct and mould the politics and culture of the world. The 1991 military report had cited some examples of far reaching geopolitical impact resulting from demographic changes.
In Lebanon the political changes were the inevitable result of the fertility differences between the Christian and Muslim population groups. A 1943 agreement, known as the National Pact, stipulated that political power will be shared between the two religious groups, the Christians and the Muslims, in accordance with their respective strength in the national population. Top ministers were to be divided in a six-to-five ratio between the Christians and the Muslims (including the Druze sect), corresponding to the population ratios reported in Lebanon's 1932 census. Subsequent population counts however showed a pronounced difference between the Christian and Muslim fertility. In early 1970s the Christian community had a declining fertility rate of less than four children per woman, while the Muslims had an estimated fertility rate of six children per woman. The result: by 1975 Lebanon came to be widely believed to have become a Muslim majority country. Similar geopolitical results are visible in South Africa where the Whites at one time constituted slightly more than one- fifth of that country's enumerated population. That proportion fell to one-seventh by early 1980s and by 2020 the white population will dwindle to one-ninth of the total population. The current sea-change in South Africa's political scenario might not have been wholly motivated by the demographic developments but it might as well be based on informed calculations about the likely population changes.
According to the above cited two defence studies, population growth, if handled intelligently, can work in a country's favour in a variety of ways. First by increasing the numbers of economically active persons for increasing the GDP. Second, by enlarging the mass base from which the army and defence services can select the most suitable soldiers and airmen. Third, by generally increasing the influence and the political status of the country in the comity of nations. Another comparative advantage will be added if a country's potential political adversaries are caught in a relatively slow population growth or a free fall mode as Russia is - and Germany likely to follow the suit. In fact, the 1988 study prepared for the Defence Department called for a huge commitment of resources for intelligent planning of population to safeguard the interests of America.
The 1988 CSIS (Centre for Strategic and International Studies) summary acknowledged that population trends are difficult to project because of unknown factors which can affect both fertility and mortality. The report forcefully projected that good population management is an important component of defence strategy. Indeed, the report accords population planning a level of importance that is essentially "equal to the development and procurement of advanced weapons."(82)
Since the beginning of the twentieth century there has been a rapid decline in the fertility rate of most developed countries. When the fertility falls so low that a nation starts producing smaller numbers of young people, the elderly tend to become a disproportionately larger percentage of the population. That leads to a situation in which the GDP has to be produced by a smaller percentage than in the past thus causing a shrinkage of the economy. A slowing down of the economy also entails a decrease in the rate of saving, a function directly correlated to a person's ability to earn, which in turn has a bearing on his capacity to save. That is why pensioners and other old persons are seldom able to save anything much. In the long run an ageing population leads to a declining gross domestic product and will result in economic stagnation. This demographic trend has another downside, though at present only for the western civilization. The population of western countries, especially in Europe, is top heavy in the sense that the proportion of elderly persons is high while that of the young is low.
But the position in the predominantly Muslim countries is just the reverse. For instance, today more than half the population of Algeria is under the age of twenty and the situation is almost similar in most other Muslim dominated countries. This trend has at least five-far reaching implications.
First, a younger population will reproduce more and thereby perpetuate the increase in the numbers of Muslims thereby carrying forward the growing numbers and also the percentage increases in their population at least for the next five decades - and perhaps even into the next millenium. At this rate, by 2100 A.D. or perhaps earlier, Muslim population numbers will overwhelm a major portion of the globe.
Second, an ageing population tends to be introspective, slow and sluggish, incapable of fruitful economic activity and therefore solely dependent on the youthful component. In sharp contrast, the young population is more energetic, economically productive, inventive and innovative.
Third a youthful population is bound to be more aggressive and violence-prone as well. The aggressive and more violence-prone tendency of young population might not bode well for many countries or even regions, because the end-result of increasing numbers of youthful Islamists will depend on how strong or fragile is the political structure and defence capability of the affected country or the region. The growing young members will demand more space, food and greater say in governance and aggressively assert themselves.
Fourth, the overall impact of a youthful population will not always remain confined to the concerned country or region. By its energetic, aggressive and volatile nature a youthful population is likely to cause major societal upheavals and affect the economy and the socio-political structure not only of the concerned country but all around in a particular region or even across continents like Europe or a country like India, due to the accelerating force of "push" factor inherent in the process of migration, which if allowed to go unchecked for a long time, tends to establish itself as a secular trend through the sheer force of momentum. The history of mankind is a witness to this demographic phenomenon. Balkans and Lebanon are two classic examples of the socio- political destablization caused by the push factor. Macedonian Christians are likely to become "push-overs" in their homeland in the near future entirely due to the operation of this "push" factor! Nearer home we have the ready example of Assam where the local population has been pushed to the wall by silently invading Bangladeshis.
Fifth, all economic development is a function of the human resource - a more dignified name for manpower or working population. Anyone having a rudimentary knowledge of economics knows that every farm, factory and industry depends on manpower - preferably knowledge-soaked youthful manpower possessing the latest technological skills. In the realm of economic development one area of long term significance is the science of demography on which much work has been done by the United Nations.(83) By studying the work done by the U.N. in this area one realises that the world is likely to face significant demographic challenges during the next 25 years. If one ignores migration, for maintaining a stable population a country requires every female to give birth to 2.1 children - the extra 0.1 to take care of infant mortality and imbalances in the male-female ratio. Interestingly in nearly every developed country, excepting the U.S. (which has a fertility rate of 2.05), the fertility rate is significantly below 2.1. (84) As we have seen, the Muslim countries, by and large, have the highest fertility rates.
The de-population crises facing the ageing Europe and declining Russia, trapped in a free-fall of numbers, should be taken as a grim warning by the nations across the globe - particularly those with similar declining rates of population, Italy, Spain and Germany among other European countries. For a change, at long last some of these nations are now waking up by offering cash bonuses to those couple who opt to make more babies. This unexpected crisis has several futuristic lessons for many developing countries excessively obsessed with family planning. Demography is a very complex science pregnant with serious long-term consequences which has the potential to alter the destinies of many nations in future, as indeed it has done in the past of which Lebanon and Bosnia are the latest ones - with Macedonia and some other countries of the Balkans heading further in that direction.
THE LONG MARCH OF RADICAL ISLAM IS A GRIM REALITY; IT IS ALREADY UPON US.
In view of the growing commitment of Muslim youth to jihad and the oncoming avalanche of the burgeoning population of Muslims across the globe, there is a strong possibility of outbreak of serious earth shaking faultline conflicts and societal upheavals in many demographically vulnerable regions of the world. At least four strategic regions can be straightaway identified which are likely to face multiple faultline conflicts, mostly religion-based, and in each one of these Islam is sure to be one of the warring groups. We have seen that West Asia or Middle East is one such important area where a deep and long standing civilizational conflict between the state of Israel and the adjoining Arab Muslim countries has been in progress now for the last fifty five years. The current faultline conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the latter uncompromisingly backed by the militant Muslim neighbours, is not only likely to continue, but might as well escalate in the years ahead because of the likely massive surge in the population of Muslims in the West Asian countries surrounding Israel. That will make life more difficult for Israelis who are already driven to the wall - literally forced to raising an impregnable wall for their security - now exasperatingly battling to secure the survival of the Jewish homeland.
The second major area of faultline conflicts is likely to be the Balkans and the southern and western European countries which have experienced a sharp upswing in Muslim population and rapid mushrooming of mosques and seminaries all over. The Balkans is already a highly destabilized region ever since 1912 when the first Balkans War broke out which was followed by a second Balkans war in the year 1913. Since then the Balkans has been in a state of perennial turmoil. The massive growth in the population of Muslims in Albania and their overflow into the erstwhile Yugoslavia has been the source of major population changes in the entire Balkans. The sharp increase in the numbers of Muslims in the region which has been rocked by a series of violent conflicts has serious implications for other neighbouring countries. During the last decade several European countries, especially Spain, France, Italy, Germany and Netherlands have experienced large accretions to the population of Muslims. Even the United Kingdom has been substantially affected.
What has been causing greater concern, however, is the huge growth of radical Islamist outfits in almost all these countries. This has naturally raised hackles of the indigenous Christian populace and resultantly some right wing political activists, hostile to Islamists, have come to occupy a part of the central political space in many countries. Needless to mention, the entire Balkan region and many of the countries of southern and western Europe are likely to face growing faultline conflicts in the near future. In France a raucous controversy over the wearing of veil by Muslim women and head scarves by school girls is gathering momentum. The situation is likely to get more exacerbated because of the growing possibility of large scale migration of young Muslims from North African countries which have been witnessing mammoth population growth. The eastern and southern coastlines of Mediterranean have seen numerous flows of population-migration and religion-based conflicts from the times predating the crusades when Islamic warriors overran the entire North Africa and conquered the Iberian Peninsula, the modern Spain. The defeat of the Christian Byzantine empire by the Turks and the fall of Constantinople to Turks some 550 years ago was a major victory for Islam. It was renamed Istanbul in 1453 by the Turks. Since then the movement of Muslims from the West Asian and North African countries to Europe has been sort of a regular trend. Now that the population of West Asia and North Africa is threatening to burst at the seams, the migration to Europe has been steadily increasing. As it gathers momentum within the next two decades, it is likely to cause major faultline conflicts in the tinderbox called the Balkans and all around in southern and western Europe. Unless a workable solution is evolved, the hordes of young and violence prone migrants from North Africa and West Asia have the potential to destabilize a major portion of the European continent.
The third likely region of dangerous climactic faultline conflicts, some of which could be exceptionally turbulent, is likely to be the Indian sub-continent. Ultimately, say in three to four decades, the Indian sub-continent could become a hotspot of religion-based faultline conflicts due to a sharp growth in the population of Muslims, with a correspondingly steep decline in the percentage of Hindus and other Indian Religionists. The massive silent invasion of Bangla-Muslims through India's porous borders has been further fuelling religious tensions in the country. If one adds to this, the mayhem being created by growing terrorist attacks in certain parts of the country, largely due to Pakistan-sponsored radical outfits, the scenario looks quite grim.
The situation is already becoming difficult because of the rapid strides made by the long march of radical Islam, entrenched in two theocratic nations of the sub-continent, located to our west and the east. Both these countries Pakistan, in the west, and Bangladesh in the east, have higher fertility rates as well as population growth rates. The threat posed by the radical Islamic ideology is already manifest in the multifold increase in the terrorist attacks across the country, mostly engineered by the ISI, often with the help of local moles. The Pakistani establishment makes no pretence of innocence in the matter and gleefully describes it as "the war of a thousand cuts". Their avowed aim is to bleed and balkanize India. They will not mind to wait, say for another forty or fifty years, in the hope that meanwhile due to growing dissensions and divisive politics, the Indian nation will become more soft and an easy take-over target. In many recent terror crimes there has been some degree of participation by Indian citizens - one might call them the loony fringe. These developments have increased the communal divide between the two communities, the Hindus and the Muslims. The increased hostility has already caused an upswing in the religion-based faultline conflicts visible all over the country. Perhaps the burning of travelling rail passengers at Godhra, too, was a manifestation of faultline conflicts.
The fourth region of such conflicts is likely to be Central Asia, the soft under belly of Russia, because of the latest demographic developments in that region. The population of Russia is now more or less in a free fall, while its Muslim province of Chechenya has the highest fertility rate - literally overflowing with Muslim numbers. Similarly the numbers of Muslims in the former constituent-States of the Soviet Union, e.g., Dagestan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan, are growing rapidly - much faster than the Christian Russia. The free fall in the population of Russia coupled with the growing Muslim population in its province of Chechenya and neighbouring Muslim countries, located in Russia's south, have the potential to destabilize the entire region, once faultline conflicts gather momentum. Deeply conscious as they are of their superiority in the numbers game, the Islamist are already raring to go. A jihad against Russia is already in progress in Chechenya which is the most heavily populated province of Russia, and the rumblings of an Islamist upsurge brewing in Dagestan can be easily heard. The contagion has already spread to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan where fundamentalist Islam is growing well and fast. It is merely a matter of time before Islamists up their ante and launch multiple jihads all along the soft under belly of Russia in search of new horizons and pastures greener. The lure of vast uncultivated lands and abandoned farms in Russian hinterland will surely invite predators from some of the neighbouring Muslim countries and even from China.
Though not in the immediate future, ultimately two more regions might also become the battleground of religion-based conflicts. These are the African continent and Australia. According to the CIA Worldfact Book, Nigeria has at present a population of approximately 134 millions of which Muslims constitute about 50 per cent (up from 43.89 percent in 1990 and from 25.93 per cent in 1900). The Christians are now down to 40 per cent (from 45.44 per cent in 1990 and 43 percent in 1970).(85) Nigeria has a history of several violent faultline conflicts between the Muslims and the Christians quite a few of which occurred in the recent times. With Muslims already having attained the majority status, the incidence of religion-based conflicts is bound to grow rapidly. Nigeria has a very high fertility rate, mostly among its component of Muslim population and according to some demographic estimates its population might cross 520 million mark by 2035 A.D. when it could become the third largest country in population, ranking just behind India and China. That could plunge the entire African continent, especially the nations having majority of Christian populations, into a major turmoil.
Similarly Indonesia could be another area of concern, especially for the nearby Australia which is facing the problem of declining population. According to the CIA Worldfact Book Indonesia at present has a population count of approximately 235 million with Muslims forming nearly 87-88 per cent of the total population, up from 54.71 per cent in 1990 and from 40 per cent in 1900, after separation of the Christian state of East Timor.(86) The rising Islamic militancy sweeping Indonesia and the tide of the rising Muslim population have been causing a kind of trepidation among the Australian politicians about the future of their country. They still remember the caustic-tongued jibe of Mahathir Mohammed that Australia was "some sort of transplant from another region". The bombing of the Kuta beach resort in October 2002 by Islamists which took a heavy toll of Australian tourists came to them as a rude shock. Australia is virtually a continent with a total population of approximately 22 millions, a very low population density of three persons per square kilometre and vast coastline. Its huge natural resources, open spaces, plenty of cultivable land and sparse population could invite large scale migration from the nearby Indonesia which is already teeming with growing numbers. Unless the Indonesian government manages to turn off the overflowing tap of Islamist-fundamentalism, the threat of faultline conflicts with Australia will continue to darken the southeastern horizon.
But Australians are far more wide awake than us, the somnolent Indians. An idea of their resolve to meet the impending demographic threat is reflected in a news front-paged by the Hindustan Times, New Delhi, on May 13, 2004, reproduced below:
"DO IT FOR COUNTRY"
"Australian couples owe it to their country to have more children and should get on with the job, the nation's Treasurer said on Tuesday. You go home and do your patriotic duty tonight," Peter Costello said.
Forecasting future events on the basis of empirical studies is a tough call, especially for researchers who are mere mortals, and not always endowed with the necessary political vision and wisdom. It is indeed one of the most difficult tasks, more suited to the eclectic genius of the futurologists, if we leave out of reckoning the tribe of crystal ball-gazers, astrologers and sooth sayers. Yet even at the risk of being branded as a prophet of doom, it would be prudent to warn the civil society that according to the emerging demographical pattern, the people living in the aforementioned four regions of the world are likely to face a high degree of socio-religious turbulence, even civil wars, in the coming decades. Therefore, some strategy, some kind of effective mechanism, for conflict resolution has to be evolved and put in place to meet the challenge of Islamist aggression - or call it reckless terror, supported by that powerful transnational union called ummah. If one goes by the present trend of demographic changes, the next three to five decades could emerge as the defining phase of international Islamist terror - say, a kind of make or break situation for the Islamists as well as the civilized world. The problem could assume gigantic dimensions in at least four regions because of the likely onslaught of massive migration from North Africa and the Middle East into the Balkans and southern Europe and the likely spurt in the movement of Muslims from Chechenya, Dagestan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan into a depopulating Russia. Just add to this bleak world outlook the high fertility rate of Indian Muslims and the havoc being played with India's socio-economic fabric by the relentless silent invasion of Bangladeshis. That should reflect the big picture of the shape of things to come.
Most nations remain glued to the micro picture of their own country, believing that the raging storm all around will bypass them. But that does not happen in this interdependent world order. It is therefore imperative for the concerned nations to constantly monitor the developments in their neighbourhood nations, watch and analyse the macro picture and develop meaningful survival strategies. Since Islamic ummah is the biggest politico-religious union of more than three score countries across the world, comprising almost 1.2 billion numbers plus massive petro funds, no single nation, howsoever big and powerful, including the United States, can meet the growing Islamic threat of terror single-handedly. According to an exhaustive study made by Loretta Napoleoni in a seminal research work, Modern Jehad, the financial world of terror has access to a whopping $1.5 trillion, which constitutes five per cent of the world GDP - and several times that of India's GDP.(87) Frankly, the enormously higher reproductive rate of Muslims worldwide alone has the potential of plunging several soft states into chaos in the not-too-distant future. Many of these like Russia, India and the Philippines are already being regularly bled and debilitated by successive waves of terrorist attacks promoting serious faltline conflicts. One such example was the Godhra train holocaust and the resulting communal carnage in the state of Gujarat. During the last few years a number of religion-based faultline clashes have taken place with increasing frequency in the state of Maharashtra, Hyderabad city and many other locations across the country.
Compared to monarchies and dictatorships, democracies can be very fragile while facing aggressive opponents. Apart from recourse to a violent coup, a debilitated democratic regime can be undermined, or overthrown simply by the numbers game expressed in terms of votes. In the arithmetic of universal franchise based on one-man-one-vote formula, sharp changes in the religious composition of a country's population can play a decisive role in radically altering the political dispensation. And once the forces of radical Islam attain an upper hand due to the facility of demographic changes, they will not hesitate to enforce a fundamentalist regime based on Sharia.
Apparently the civil society has not learned any lessons from the tragedies of Lebanon and the Balkans, especially the latter region which has been rocked by the successive bloody civil wars. It needs to be analysed that how and why a die-hard communist and secularist like Slobodan Milosevic turned into a rabid Muslim-hating Serb. All communists are committed secularists and Milosevic was no exception. Then what made him go after the Muslim Kosovars and Bosnians in a ruthless manner. The answer is simple. When Milosevic and other comrades in his government saw that the future of the Serbian civilization was in grave danger and that the entire Serb nation was likely to be overwhelmed by the rising tide of the Muslim numbers, they lost mental balance and openly acquiesced in acts of ethnic cleansing committed by the Serb militia and army. In 1980s due to frequent violent protests and riots by Albanian and Kosovar Muslims the persecution of the Serb minority had risen sharply. There were large scale religion-based riots involving frequent killings, property damage, rapes and wanton harassment of the Serbs who claimed that the threat to them was of genocidal proportions. In 1986 the plight of the Kosovo Serbs led to a declaration by two hundred leading Serbian intellectual, political leaders including several prominent communists, retired defence officers and the editor of the liberal opposition journal Praxis demanding that the government must take effective steps to prevent genocide of Serbs in Kosovo.
These development led to a total transformation of Milosevic and other communist leaders from secularists into staunch nationalists. Milosevic might also have sensed in it an opportunity to became a popular Serb leader. On June 28, 1989 he visited Kosovo amidst a gathering of more than one million Serbs, including a host of national leaders and intellectuals, including many communists, on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the great battle fought with Turks in which thousands of Serb youths had laid down their lives. Milosevic gave a call to save the Serb nation which was hailed throughout Serbia. Kosovo could more appropriately be described as the Haldighati of Serbs. For centuries the Serb countryside used to resonate with the ballads and ditties of the heroic exploits of the valiant Serb youths who had laid down their lives while defending their motherland and religious faith in the battle of Kosovo in 1389. Politically both Yugoslavia and Lebanon were pronouncedly secular dispensations. But that only facilitated unhindered fast paced growth of Muslim population in both the countries. Muslims continued to subscribe to the secular ethos, but only till their percentage grew to 30-40 percent. Once that benchmark was reached and they became a formidable minority group, the battle cry of jihad was raised, under the leadership of Alija Izetgovitch, and after that they never looked back. Ultimately violent jihadi warriors tore apart the secular administrative structure of both these countries and emerged as winners.
The tragedy of the Balkans and Lebanon has an important lesson for mankind, especially the future generations. Frequent religion-based faultline conflicts will break out with increasing frequency in all those countries which are likely to be overwhelmed by the fast paced growth of Muslim population. The numbers of Muslims are on a massive roll almost globally, at least in four continents. It is somewhat premature to say that ultimately radical Islam will achieve through the medium of producing more babies, courtesy the scriptural sanction for multiple wives, a dominant position in the world. That has the potential of securing for them a facile win over democracies which they might not be able to attain otherwise through holy wars. If we go by the dynamics of the latest global demographic trends and the resolve of jihadi militants to continue their long march, there is a strong possibility of such a denouement, perhaps any time during the later half of the present century.
It is time that the world leaders understood that by virtue of their growing population, in the near future the Muslims are going to be a major force to reckon with which could make the Islamists emerge as a global super power, even to the exclusion of the secular Christian nations led by the U.S.A. In any case, for India the threat is more specific. We must not forget that every democratic country is governed by the great numbers game, called elections, based on universal franchise. And the future demographic developments in the sub-continent hold the key to that great numbers game as far as India is concerned. The contours of the serious problem are clearly visible. Only the sightless can ignore the coming storm propelled by the unremitting influx of Bangladeshis.
Footnotes For Chapter 6
2.Pendrel Moon, Divide and Quit, p.11.
3.A P Joshi, M D Srinivas and J K Bajaj, "Religious Demography of India", Preface, p.xxii.
5. Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, p. 260.
6.Susan Woodward, Balkan Tragedy: Chaos and Dissolution after the Cold War (Washington D C, Brookings Institution, 1995), pp. 32-35, cited by Samuel Huntington in The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order, p.260.
7. Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, p.260.
9. Jonas Widgren, Overview of topical refugee and migration issues in South East Europe's, presented on September 14-15, 2000 ,at the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Conference in Struga (Macedonia), Source: www.icmpd.org.
10.Jonas Widgren, the Statement made at the Stability Pact Regional Meeting on Co-operation in South Eastern Europe to Stabilize Population Movement, Tirana, December 12-13, 2002, Source: www.icmpd.org.
11.Scott L. Wheeler, @2002 News World Communications Inc., Blonde, blue eyed Muslim terrorists? Security expert Bodansky says Bosnians put 'new face' on jihadist stereotype, World Net Daily, December 5, 2002.
17. Source: A.P. Joshi, M D Srinivas and J K Bajaj, "Religious Demography of India", Religious Profile of West Asia, table D-33e, p.319.
18. Priyadarsi Dutta, Choose the Civilization, The Pioneer, New Delhi, May 2, 2003.
19. Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilization and the Remaking of World Order, p.264.
21. Richard H. Curtiss, Demographics: Year-End Population Statistics Gloss over Israel's Biggest Problem, Source: http://222.washington report.org/backissues/ 0397/ 9703040.htm.
24. News item by Reuters 'Israel to Keep Building Barrier Despite U N Censure, The New York Times, October 22, 2003.
26. Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, p.65.
28. Kenneth R. Timmerman, The World's Most Wanted Man, Reader's Digest (Indian Edition), October 2001, p. 140}.
29. Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, pp. 65-66.
30. John K Cooley, Unholy Wars, Afghanistan America and International Terrorism, p.83.
32. Compiled from CIA Factbook updated till July 2003, with population inputs, wherever necessary, from http://www.infoplease.com).
34. Samuel Huntington, The Clash of the Civlizations and the Remaking of World Order, p. 260.
35. Ibid. Source: New York Times 15 January 1993, p.A9, Henry Clement Moore, Images of Development: Egyptian Engineers in Search of Industry (Cambridge Press: MIT Press, 1980, pp.227-228.
36. Russian Cross: Do-it-yourself-genocide, February 21, 2001, www.1h1a.org.world/ dsp_article.cfm.
39. Fred Weir, Mother Russia is barren, The Sunday Hindustan Times, New Delhi, September 14, 2003.
41. Fred Weir, Christian Science Monitor, April 18, 2002, Source: http://www.csmonitor.com/2002/0418/p06s02-woeu.html.
44. The Russian Cross - Do-it-yourself-genocide, February 21, 2001, Source: http://www.1hla.org/world/dsparticle.cfm var=14.
45. Source: Dr A P Joshi, M D Srinivas and J K Bajaj, "Religious Demography of India", p. 335, table D-35b South Europe.
46. Oriana Fallaci, The Rage, the Pride and the Doubt. Thoughts on the eve of battle in Iraq, WSJ.com Opinion Journal, March 29, 2003.
47. Rashmee Z. Ahmed, 'Europe expectantly longs for a demographic bulge', Sunday, The Times of India, New Delhi, p.15, October 5, 2003.
49. Richard Bernstein, Ageing Europe Finds Its Pension Is Running Out, The New York Times, June 29, 2003.
54. The Asian Age, June 28, 2003, 'U.K. booklet on threat of Islamists may whip passions', p.3.
56. The New York Times, November 2, 1997.
57. Source: Australian Population Facts, www.cqnet.com.au/--user/dancasey/ Population_control.html].
59. Sunday Mail, Sydney, November 21, 1999.
60. Australian Population Facts, www.cqnet.au/--user/dancasey/Population control.html.
61. Dr A. P. Joshi, M D Srinivas and J.K. Bajaj, "Religious Demography of India", pp.8-9.
62. Ibid, p. 21, table 2.2.
63. Ibid, p.27, table 2.7a.
64. Ibid, p.31, table 2.11. 65. Ibid, p.32.
66. Source: Ibid, p.31, Table 2.11.
67, Ibid, pp.32-33.
68. Ahtesham Qureshi, The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, July 9, 1995.
69. Source: http://www.cqnet.com.au/-user/dancasey/Population control.html.
70. Source: http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/mus02.html.
71. Steven A Camarota, 'The Muslim Wave: Dealing with Immigration from the Middle East', National Review, Issue: Sept 16, 2002.
74. Source: A.P. Joshi, M.D. Srinivas and J.K. Bajaj, "Religious Demography of India", (Religious Demography of the World), p. 340, table D-36:North America.
75. Rachel L. Swarns, '13,000 Arabs & Muslims in U.S. face deportation' , New York Times Service - Source: The Asian Age, June 9, 2003.
76. Ibid. 77. Ibid.
78. Pentagon Files - Population Control as a Military Issue, Source: http://www.africa2000.com/INDX/pentagon.htm.
83. Demographics of Investments, The Business Standard, New Delhi, May 22, 2003.
85. Source: Dr. A.P. Joshi, M.D. Srinivas and J.K. Bajaj, "Religious Demography of India", p.328, table D-34e West Africa.
86. Source: Dr. A.P. Joshi, M.D. Srinivas and J.K. Bajaj, "Religious Demography of India", p.328, table D-34e West Africa.
87. Yashwant Singh, At $1.5 trillion, terrorism is the world's largest private business, Sunday, The Hindustan Times, New Delhi, November 23, 2003.
Ram K. Ohri is a retired senior police officer of the Indian Police
Service (IPS) and author of "Long March Of Islam: Future Imperfect"
and "The Bell Tolls: Tomorrow's Truncated India."
This is Chapter 6 of Mr. Ohri's book, "Long March Of Islam: Future Imperfect". Chapter 1 was published in the September-October issue of Think-Israel. It is available here. Subsequent chapters were published, one per issue. The book was published by Manas Publications in New Delhi in 2004. Its ISBN # is 817049186X. It is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. Mr. Ohri writes that the book is "Dedicated to my sweet grand daughters, Saloni and Jaisal and my soulmate, Pushpa."
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