(12/9/15) Donald Trump has proposed banning all Muslims from entering our country either for tourism or immigration. A spokesperson for Trump has stated that even Muslim citizens of the USA will be forbidden to return if they leave the country. I am not going to discuss whether this is legal. I will let the experts and courts decide on the legality without my opinion. With this in mind I wanted to see just how many potential terrorists there are to determine if there is enough risk that justifies banning all Muslims. Let’s look at the numbers.
According to Pew Research there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. Determining who is a radical Muslim is a bit complicated and numbers vary wildly. According to ACT! for America’s president and founder Brigitte Gabriel radical Islamist make up 15% to 25% of Muslims worldwide. If indeed the number is 25% that would be 400 million radical Islamists. Gabriel’s numbers are suspect as she claimed they come from all the world’s intelligence services. Unfortunately, she has never revealed these numbers so this claim can be discarded. Further she is not clear on what is a radical Islamist. A definition would be helpful for comparison to other data. One definition that is used is if a person supports Sharia Law. According to the same Pew Research poll approximately 50% of Muslims support Sharia Law. That would be 750 million radical Islamists by this definition. This seems a bit ridiculous to classify 1 in 2 Muslims as radical. A person who believes in Sharia Law does not necessary believe in Jihad. In fact, in the same research they asked Muslims if they have a positive or negative view of ISIS. The results showed that 7% have a favorable view. This would equate to over 110 million Muslims. Again, support for Isis does not indicate a person will commit acts of terror. Pew also asked Muslims if they condone religious violence against citizens with the result being 10%. This would equate to 160 million people, but again having support and committing the act are two different things.
The United States Department of State provides a database and information on all active terrorist groups around the world. It is a long list and many are not Islamic. If you add the total members of just the Islamic Terrorist groups the estimate ranges from 106,000 to 184,000 members. Taking the highest number would mean that .012% of Muslims are actually part of terrorist groups. Further many of these terrorist groups do not have a dispute with the USA. Only a fraction of these members want to commit terror in the USA.
The results show that there needs to be concern when 160 million Muslims support violence against citizens and 110 million views ISIS positively. It is impossible to know how many people are a threat to the United States. What is known is that there is a threat. Does this justify closing the door on the other 1.4 billion Muslims who are not a threat at all? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
Written by Dave Van Zandt