Peter Frost on Charlie Hebdo: The return of fear

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack—or rather mass execution—the typical reaction seems to be that the killers were “madmen” and “extremists.” The brother of the slain policeman, himself Muslim, protested: “My brother was Muslim. He was shot down by false Muslims. (…) Islam is really a religion of peace, of love. We had nothing to do with that.”

Yes, only a few Muslims took part. But France has witnessed other acts of violence, largely ignored by the media, which have maimed and killed far more people. In most cases, those perpetrators have likewise been young men of Muslim background, although their actions have been driven not by religious fanaticism but by the enjoyment of being with other “youths” and proving their manhood through thefts, assaults, and home invasions.

The facts speak for themselves. In France, Muslims make up 60% of all prison inmates, while being only 12% of the total population (Leclerc, 2014). Similarly, 7 out of 10 burglaries, assaults, and violent thefts are committed by first- or second-generation immigrants (Chevrier and Raufer, 2014). Most of these perps seem to be Muslim, although a third of them may be West Indians, Africans, and Roma of nominally Christian background. Muslims seem to be especially overrepresented in serious violent crimes that lead to prison sentences.

Similar trends are developing elsewhere. Muslims make up 70% all prison inmates in Spain and 45% in Belgium (WikiIslam, 2013;, 2013). In England and Wales, the figure is only 14%, versus 4.7% of the total population, apparently because certain other communities are likewise overrepresented (Morris, 2014, see Note).

There are two ways of explaining why Muslim immigrants are more crime-prone. One is that Islam heightens the sense of difference between the in-group (fellow Muslims) and the out-group (the host society). Non-Muslims are outsiders and thus legitimate targets for acts that would be considered wrong if done against Muslims. This may explain why violent crime by Muslim immigrants correlates so weakly with the murder rate in their home countries. Murder is more serious when committed against a fellow Muslim….

….Most Muslim immigrants come from societies where the State has pacified social relations only in recent times and where men still see violence as a legitimate and even necessary means to advance personal interests, to defend themselves and their families, and to acquire land, goods, and even women. Violence is constrained not by the State but by a balance of terror—the threat of retaliation by the victim or his kinsmen.

Male combativeness is especially strong in highland pastoral societies beyond the reach of State control. It’s not for nothing that they have provided some of the best fighting men, like the Gurkhas in the British army, the Moroccans in the French army, and the Albanians in the Ottoman imperial army, their main drawback being a tendency to treat enemy civilians like enemy combatants…

A reader, “Whyvert” left an interesting comment:

I would explain the violence of North African Muslims by one additional factor: selection within North Africa after the Arab conquest for poor, violent people to convert to Islam, and wealthy less violent ones to remain as Christian or Jewish, because they could afford the tax on non-Muslims.

Then, centuries later, at Algeria’s independence, two populations moved to France. Almost all the Algerian Jews (~130k people) migrated to France and have done fine and are not violent. But the Algerian Muslims who went to France have ended up poor and relatively violent.

Both populations had lived in the same unpacified Ibn Khaldun polity in North Africa. So, I conclude, there must have been some other form of selection at work. The Islamic tax selected for relative poverty and the things that go along with that like being violence-prone, less intelligence, less foresight. That’s a further reason, in addition to those stated in the OP that a connection between Islam and violence now exists.

  • winniec

    The question of why there is ‘only’ one jihadist per one thousand Muslims is easy to answer: most Muslims don’t want to lose their life or go to jail. A small number of students in Islamic study groups come to the conclusion that Allah has recruited them into his army. They tend to be well-educated and from stable homes.

    • Frau Katze

      This article is going further than that and considering an actual biological, hereditary tendency to violence. I thought the commenter who noted that the Algerian Jews are not particularly violent (according to crime stats) interesting.

      A tendency to violence is at least partly heritable. This area of study is neglected because it is verging on being politically incorrect. But there a number of bloggers out there writing on what research exists and trying to puzzle it out.

      I only post these type of things on occasion, since it assumes some knowledge of biology and evolution.

      No one is suggesting there is not a cultural aspect (ie Islam) too. But on this blog the readers tend to be pretty familiar with Islam’s violence-inducing properties, so I am tossing this in for further consideration.

      • adam

        There’s little doubt that one can select for violent tendencies, at least in some animals. The famous silver fox experiment showed this to be the case.

        It’s possible that Islamic immigrants to Europe and elsewhere are biologically more prone to violence that others. However, it’s important to remember that, historically, many if not most Europeans haven’t exactly been peace-loving Zen Buddhists.

        If you’re talking biology, then what happened to all those Pict, Hun, Vandal, and Viking genes? Did they just vanish? Based on the history of the last century, I would seriously doubt it.

        I think the more interesting question is, how will these biologically violent native peoples interact with the biologically violent imported ones. Might not be pretty.

        • Frau Katze

          It’s a huge topic. I guess I should have started with something simpler. There are entire blogs on why the Europeans settled down. And despite the last century, they have indeed settled down. There are whole books on the topic.

          Only 3 have commented but no one seems to understand what the guy is saying.

      • Exile1981

        I know it’s been discussed by us before but people should read “An inconvenient inheritance” – it goes into details about how certain ethnic groups have certain genes that do select for things like violence.

    • Frau Katze

      You have to read the whole thing to understand what he is saying. I perhaps could have extracted it better but it was late in the day and I was getting tired.

    • Raymond Hietapakka

      Sure…1 jihadijoe in 1,000. Today. Add the 100-500 that will spit in your soup or forget to lube your ball joints…

  • Zaba

    ….although their actions have been driven not by religious fanaticism …..
    Nothing fanatic about islam.
    Simply put: there are no rules for male muzlims.
    The ideology of islam contains NO Ethics, No Golden Rule.
    That really opens the possibilities and explains how they
    keep thinking of new ways ‘to strike terror into our hearts’.

    See info tabs and other good stuff at:

    • Frau Katze

      I’m aware of all that, trust me! (This was my post). See my explanation above that besides the violence in Islam, there might be other factors too.

      Not all violent societies on earth are Muslim (see Papua New Guineau) for example.

      BCF is not a single-issue site (like TROP) so an odd glance at other areas that might be of interest is not amiss.

      It is not a case of either/or. The high crime of Muslims in France may have more than one cause. That is the only purpose of this post.

      There are tons of sites on Islam. Anyone can read the Koran. It’s dead simple to see the violence there.

      There are far fewer sites on population differences because it a far more complex topic. My only purpose here is to introduce readers to this other area.

      • Zaba

        I do trust you!

        I know you’re aware of all that….just doing my part in helping educate about islam- the lack of which is the biggest problem we have in the West.

        Now about that single focus…..cats?

  • cmh

    Whyverts comment on social engineering in North Africa rings a truth that cannot be ignored