Tag Archives: Islam

Is Islamic Endogamy a Good Thing?

T. Greer calls Emmanuel Todd “the most under-rated “big idea” thinker in the field of world history.” Well, I thought I’d better take a look. Turns out that Todd is not the typical Parisian intellectual: he has a streak of Anglo empiricism. That’s all to the good.

His book A Convergence of Civilizations is mainly about how fertility rates in many Muslim countries are converging with Western and East Asian levels.

Endogamy, though, remains peculiar to many Islamic lands. Todd finds something good to say about it: a woman comes into the husband’s family as kin, not a stranger, hence she’s less likely to be tyrannized by the mother-in-law. The father does not control who the son marries, since the son has a right to his cousin.

But Todd does not mention the negatives of endogamy: the rule of cousins (cousinocracy), plus clannism (clanocracy). Oh, and the inbreeding depression.

The book has a useful table (p. 33):

Rates of Endogamy

(Muslim counries at the beginning of the 1990s)

Sudan 57

Pakistan 50

Mauretania 40

Tunisia 36

Saudi Arabia 36

Syria 35

Jordan 33

Oman 33

Yemen 31

Qatar 30

Kuwait 30

Algeria 27

Egypt 25

Morocco 25

UAE 25

Iran 25

Bahrain 23

Turkey 15

Bangladesh 10


Why these variations exist is a puzzle. Why is Pakistan high, but Bangladesh low?


Youssef Courbage and Emmanuel Todd, A Convergence of Civilizations: The Transformation of Muslim Societies (Columbia UP, 2011).


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Action and Reaction in Terrorism

In the Boston attack, both the action and the reaction turn out to have followed recent patterns.

The action:

No great surprise here. The perps were Islamic young men. But more precisely, they were from a clannish society prone to vendetta, violence, retribution, and hostility to the outsider.

The Chechens of Russia’s North Caucasus region are a tight-knit society based on extended families, or clans, guided by a council of elders. These clans, which traditionally lived together in a single village, are called “taips.” (Radio Free Europe. Hat-tip: Mark Weiner)

The Boston attack illustrates two recent themes on this blog: Stereotypes are true and Clannism strikes again.

Plus, they follow the recent pattern of being (thankfully) incompetent. Recent terrorists and would-be terrorists in the US have been, in John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart’s words, “incompetent, ineffective, unintelligent, idiotic, ignorant, unorganized, misguided, muddled, amateurish, dopey, unrealistic, moronic, irrational and foolish.”*

The reaction:

No great surprise here either, alas. Like most recent attacks the response was full of delusional, overwrought reporting by the media, and gross overreaction by the authorities.

T. Greer puts it well:

Boston was turned into a prison to catch a 19 year old who killed three people. Lets put this in perspective: every year an average of 115 people are murdered in the Boston Metro. [3]That is roughly one murder every three days. Living in Boston’s lower income “ghettos” I was acutely aware of this fact. I befriended many people whose friends and family members were the victims of gang warfare. Their deaths brought no manhunts. … the fearful and extreme response of the American government and her people are disgraceful, fit for a nation of sheep, not citizens.


John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, The Terrorism Delusion: America’s Overwrought Response to September 11, International Security, Vol. 37, No. 1 (Summer 2012), pp. 81–110. (ungated pdf here)

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Mirage in the Desert: An “All-Woman City” in Saudi Arabia

Back in the summer there were news reports (e.g. The Guardian here) that Saudi Arabia is planning to build a women-only city – a no-man’s land in the sand, a feminist utopia in Islam.

Such an initiative is guaranteed to divide feminists: female chauvinists hailing it as a showcase for how much better woman are than men, other feminists damning it as further segregation.

In reality, there is no such plan.

What is being built are some all-women industrial districts. Not all-women cities. Not living without men. Not a place where women do everything, from collecting the garbage to fighting the fires. Not a radical feminist utopia, implemented by a strict Islamic regime.

The actual plan is more a cluster of women-only factories and offices.

I am a bit disappointed. It would have been an interesting experiment to see what a women-only city would have been like.

I doubt it would have worked. The reality is that in the battle of the sexes, there is too much fraternizing with the enemy. An all-woman city would be a failure, just like an all-man city. What a joyless and lifeless place a city without children would be.

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Political Irony: Islamic YouTube Protests Edition

When an political action ends up achieving the opposite of its aims, that’s political irony.
Aim of the Islamic YouTube protests: to oppose any sign of disrespect and to insist that Islam always be given the highest prestige.
Effect: to lower the standing of Islam around the world as intolerant and violent.
I like political irony.

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Protesting for Punishment

What is motivating the anti-Western protests sweeping Arab and Islamic countries? A BBC reporter in Tunis spoke with the protestors:

When I put it to them that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had apologised and the film had nothing to do with the US government, they all said it was not enough. “We want a proper apology and for the filmmaker to be arrested,” they said.

Tunisia is a relatively liberal society for the Arab norm. I suspect the protestors reflect a widespread public view that offending filmmaker should be severely punished. There is a clash of values over punishment. This is a survey from Pew:

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