Examining Islamic Terrorism In Europe.

Islamic Extremism has shocked the world. It has persisted as one of the western world’s greatest fears. The largest perpetrator of that fear (besides the extremist themselves) is the conservative media. On December 7, 2015, presidential candidate Donald J Trump proposed a “Shutdown of Muslims entering into the United States.” Since that time, the conservative media has been looking for ways to justify labeling Islamic migrants as a threat.

Their argument is that Muslim migrants come from countries with ruthless governments and a religion that promotes violence and dishonesty within their culture. Therefore the culture they live under makes them predisposed to sympathizing and even joining extremist groups. To put it simply

>European terrorism is caused by Muslim migrants.
>Muslim migrants commit acts of terrorism because of their culture.
>Therefore, European terrorism is caused by Muslim culture.

When looking at immigration in the United States, Islamic terrorism is minimal compared to other forms of terrorism. The domestic threat using our own data has been debunked countless times. But now the conservative media is using a different source to promote their narrative.

The conservative media is using the attacks from Muslims immigrating to Europe to infer that the risk of terrorism from migrants is significantly higher. There isn’t a whole lot of study that has convinced me one way or another, but the internet has provided us with enough data to draw a few interesting conclusions. We will be using 3 sources to draw our conclusions.

The first is the Global Terrorism Database from a group of researchers at the University of Maryland. It is a very large spreadsheet of all the terrorist attacks that have happened in the world. The database will require some basic information, but it;s a pretty comprehensive list that is worth archiving on your drive.

The second source is the Religion of Peace website. It may sound biased, but they have the most comprehensive list of Islamic terrorist attacks. The GTD only has data up to 2015, and most of the extremist groups involved are listed as “unknown.”

The final source is an article on PewReaserch that outlines the 2010 Muslim population per country.

Assuming that the right winged media was correct, and assuming that Middle Eastern migrants are responsible for the terrorism in Europe, then we can draw 3 conclusions.

1: The groups that commit the majority of terror will be Islamic Extremist.

2: Countries with the highest population of Muslim migrants will have the most amount of terrorism.

3: Terrorism in each country will be proportional to the migration rates.

The first 2 are ESSENTIAL to making the conservative argument. The third will re-enforce the idea but it is not essential. The third will also rely on the previous 2 being true. If the first 2 can proven to be false, then the conservatives will have no factual foundation to base their narratives on.

Here’s how the data was compiled. We start by taking the GTD’s entire collection and filtering it by Eastern and Western Europe. Next we filter the data from 2001 up to 2015. No one had a problem with Muslims up until 2001 so it’s a good starting point.

If you want to get that version without going through the GTD, then you can get the list here.

Next we take all the Islamic extremist groups and find the growth rates on a per-attack basis. Since most of the GTD’s attacks are “unknown,” we’ll use the Religion of Peace database to fill in the difference under the group “Islamic Extremist.”

As we can see, Islamic terrorism has been fluctuating inconsistently with 2016 being the apex of Islamic attacks. 42 attacks occurred in 2016 before being reduced to 15 in 2017 up until the point of this writing. Europe has experienced a grand total of 283 terrorist attacks.

If most of the terrorist attacks are Islamic like our first point states, then certainly we’ll see that reflected in the total number of attacks.

As we can see, our first point is refuted. Most of the terrorism in Europe is non-Muslim. Any given year will yield a much higher rate of terrorism as a whole than the apex of Islamic terrorism. What is most interesting is that Islamic terrorism in 2016 didn’t grow much higher than it’s previous decade. But terrorism grew consistently since 2011 as a whole spiked in 2014. At this point we can conclude that Middle Eastern migration is not the cause of most of the terrorist attacks in Europe. But the majority of terrorism in Europe has grown, and we can infer that there is some kind of cause. Unfortunately for the conservative media, that cause is not Muslim migrants.

To give the conservatives the benefit of the doubt, we’ll see how terrorism scales in countries that have the heaviest Muslim population by percentage. From largest to smallest, the most Muslim heavy European countries by percentage are France (7.5%), Germany (5.8%), then the United Kingdom (4.8%). Each of them have a respective population (in millions) of 66.81, 81.41, and 65.14.

Countries with the highest rate of migrants have scaled. But how does that compare to the total amount of terrorism in those 3 countries.

As we can see, terrorism as a whole grossly outnumbers Islamic extremism in all 3 countries. The conservative media could argue that Islamic terrorism scales disproportionately with Muslims, but that information can’t be used to draw a cause and effect relationship between European terrorism being caused by Islamic culture. Why? Simple. The 3 countries that have the highest amount of terrorism rank in REVERSE order to the Muslim population percentages. So not only is point 2 incorrect, it is the exact opposite of what is really happening. Just to note, we are missing data from 2016 and 2017 on the total number of attacks, but it is doubtful the total rate of non-Muslim attacks will just drop for no reason.

We have debunked the conservative narrative that promotes the idea of European Terrorism being caused by Islamic culture. They may argue that France can solve it’s problems by making Islamic culture the basis for the problem, but this doesn’t happen anywhere else. Even France, with it’s disproportional Islamic attacks can not use Islamic culture as the basis for their problems. Not without going against the rest of the data. It would make more sense for France to search for the reasons why Islamic extremist are selecting their country in particular as a target, then address said cause.

Conservative may also argue that Muslim migrants are responsible for most of the non terror related crime. That MIGHT be true, but the basis for the conservative argument is that the culture causes them to be more likely to adapt violence as a solution to promoting political ideals. As we can see, that type of behavior is not exclusive to Islamic culture. However, if they aren't committing terrorism disproportionally, then we can safely assume that their culture does not have the cause and effect relationship the right wing media initially thought it did.

What CAN we conclude from this data? We can conclude that

1: Terrorism in Europe is growing

2: Islamic terrorism is mostly committed by individuals, and no organized group.

3: Most terrorist attacks (Islamic included) are equivalent to random acts of violence in terms of the damage they cause.

4: Muslim terrorism is growing at a similar rate to the rest of terrorism. Which means there is likely some alternative cause that needs to be investigated.

5: If Europe wants to solve it’s terrorist problem, then they can’t use Islamic culture as the basis for what is considered a terrorist threat since that data is non consistent.