Headline by The Universe
23 February 2003
I was intrigued by the relaxed way in which Dwight Longenecker seemed to be accepting the possible takeover of Europe by Islam, consoling us with the knowledge that in Africa, Latin America and Asia, the number of Christians will rise at a great rate (The Universe, February 2).
Islam is a religion of peace. Nevertheless, if it takes over Europe, it is fair to say there will be a good deal of turmoil. May I give you a few figures about the Middle East?
In 1950, the Islamic countries stretching from Syria and Egypt to Pakistan had a population of about 108 million, much the same as the combined population of Germany and France at that time. At present, this Islamic population stands at 400 million, which is roughly the present population of Western Europe as a whole.
In 2050, these Islamic countries will have a population of 800 million, larger than the combined populations of Europe and all Russia. (I exclude Turkey because classification is uncertain.)
This uncontrolled population explosion in the Middle East means that most of these nations can never be prosperous, and many of their inhabitants will realise that emigration is their only hope. This movement of peoples in search of prosperity will soon be a major concern to Europeans.
In 1953, Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Pope Paul VI), writing to the twenty-sixth Catholic Social Week, put it like this: “Population problems are of extreme importance – they have a vital bearing on world peace”. How right he was!