The above brief review indicates that SIAs [Sallis note: Social Impact Assessments] of mosques are often compromised by an ethnocentric focus on Muslims as victims. Generally ignored is the equally important question of how a mosque or Muslims affect the majority population in an area. It is not uncommon for academic studies to criticise those who are concerned about mosques without evaluating the complaints. The studies just reviewed fall short of the standard of analysis advocated by the Planning Institute of Australia or its international affiliate. This is true with regard to goals, because these studies do not pretend to assess how mosques (or churches or temples) might affect a neighbourhood’s way of life, culture, sense of community, social and architectural environment, and health and wellbeing. It is also true with regard to theory and method, because the reviewed studies do not offer a basis for predicting social impacts. This fails to meet the Planning Institute’s standard: “Social impact assessment of policies or plans should be sufficiently robust to anticipate the impact of proposals made under the plan.”17
Salter makes clear in his piece that SIAs in the current Australian regime are ethnocentric in the sense that they focus on, and favor, minority groups (part of the very definition of standard multiculturalism). Hence, the question about mosques boils down to: how do they benefit the Muslim majority? Concerns of the majority are with ignored or “spun away” into non-importance. SIA concerns about violence are only directed toward the (mythical) possibility of native violence against poor, defenseless, peace-loving Muslims; actual violence by the aliens toward the majority is completely ignored. Americans will find this familiar in the sense that concerns about “race relations” focus solely to the benefit of minorities and on alleged White perfidy; legitimate complaints by Whites are ignored or mocked, and the idea that Whites have legitimate group interests is labeled as “extremist hate.”
Ethnic nepotism theory predicts that ethno-religious diversity incurs substantial social costs of diminished trust and cohesion as well as rising conflict. This has been confirmed by cross-cultural research. One recent study looked at conflict more widely defined to include not only violence but discrimination, affirmative action and interest groups of the kind found in Australia and other multicultural societies. The study compared 176 contemporary societies, finding that 66 per cent of global variation in conflict was explained by ethno-religious heterogeneity.23 In other words, most conflict within societies around the world is caused or exacerbated by the mixing of ethnic and cultural groups. Ethnic Nepotism Theory also predicted that ethnic diversity would reduce social cohesion, which was independently confirmed by the famous study by Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam in 2006.24 Putnam found that rising diversity in U.S. cities caused a decline in trust and cooperation. This finding was replicated at the neighbourhood level in a longitudinal English study, which found that social cohesion was restored when people moved to a more homogeneous area.25 That diversity brings costs is to be expected from knowledge of human evolution. Humans evolved in culturally and religiously homogeneous groups. Ethno-cultural diversity is novel on the evolutionary and historical time frames. As a result negative social impacts are not surprising.
Another biosocial theory seeks to explain the altruism and passionate loyalty elicited by religion. David Sloane Wilson, an evolutionary biologist at Binghamton University, U.S.A., conceptualises religions as adaptive systems that coordinate the behaviour of groups beyond kin and sometimes beyond tribe.26 Co-religionists are drawn together by shared rituals and beliefs. For millennia religion was humans’ most powerful group strategy outside the family, and still exerts considerable influence. When religious and ethnic ties coincide, as they often do with Muslim populations, group solidarity is enhanced. These theories help explain why endogamy, or marrying within the ethno-religious population, is a universal human tendency. All ethno-religious groups are endogamous to various degrees, though the religions and segmentary societies of the Middle East and Africa are at the high end of the spectrum. Endogamy is generally adaptive, for example by maintaining a higher level of parental kinship and retaining religious and cultural identity…
Terrorism is the most high-profile impact of Muslims. Islamic communities are a major source of terror directed at the West and at other Muslims despite relatively small numbers. There have been Islamist terror attacks in the U.S., France, Spain and Britain in recent years, committed in part by Muslim men of immigrant descent born and raised in those countries. Economic inequality, unemployment and self-segregation are contributing to social polarisation in Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands, mostly among the Muslim immigrant population. The situation is less pronounced in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France where policies promote more assimilation, and in Britain, where welfare is less generous.29 In Sweden immigrants from Africa and the Middle East make up about 16 per cent of the population but take as much as 58 per cent of welfare payments, representing a large wealth transfer from the native population.30 That transfer cannot be seen as a good investment because about 48 per cent of working-age immigrants are unemployed. Even after 15 years in the country, 40 per cent are not working. The trend is for separate and dependent Islamic societies to be established as the Muslim population segregates itself and new generations come of age. The separation is territorial and psychological. The failure to integrate economically and culturally contributes to high levels of Muslim crime, a phenomenon experienced across Europe. In Sweden the majority of those charged with murder, rape and robbery are immigrants, despite immigrants – largely Muslims – numbering only 16 per cent of the population.31 In Denmark, immigrants from the Middle East and Africa commit crimes at a much higher rate than do ethnic Danes. The greatest frequency of law-breaking was shown by the children of non-Western immigrants.32
“Children…of immigrants.” In the USA, the mainstream just calls them “American citizens” – hiding their alien antecedents or, stupidly, asserting that their background is immaterial to their behavior.
Sweden is suffering an epidemic of rape of native Swedes by Muslim men. A 2005 government report states that immigrants, mostly Muslims, were five times more likely to be investigated for sex crimes, and four times more likely for homicide, than native Swedes.33 In addition there are over 50 “no-go” immigrant neighbourhoods in which police are reluctant to go except in force, because they are at risk of mob attack. Whites are fleeing Muslim areas and trust is declining.34 Immigrant crime often emerges in the second generation. This is also the experience of the United States, that immigrants are generally more law-abiding than their children.35 To these patterns should be added the extraordinary levels of criminality shown by some Islamic immigrant communities in Britain and France, the two ex-colonial powers with the longest experience of these minorities. There are no-go areas in northern Paris, Marseille and other French urban areas, where even police dare not venture except in force. (The same applies to Brussels.) In France and Britain there are occasional riots so violent and extensive that police lose control of affected areas. These amount to uprisings, periods of mass conflict, which would edge closer to civil war if the indigenous population fought back to protect their shops, cars and other property.
In France Muslim-African youth rioted in 2005 burning an estimated 9,000 cars in 274 cities and towns. The situation was out of control for three weeks. A state of emergency was declared. There were two deaths, almost 3,000 arrests and 1,256 injured police and fire-fighters. Large scale organised sexual exploitation of white girls, predominantly by Muslim Pakistani men, took place in the English town of Rotherham in South Yorkshire. Up to 1,400 girls as young as 12 were raped and sex-trafficked by multiple men between 1997 and 2013. About 100 have given birth to children fathered by the rapists. The rapes point to the wider phenomenon of uncompetitive ethnic minorities becoming alienated and exhibiting contempt for the Europeans among whom they live. These men did not prey on Pakistani girls, so it was an ethnically-directed crime.
This prejudicial assumption that intolerance is expressed only towards minorities and not also by them has been typical of the multicultural establishment from its beginnings. However, this gives the Scanlon data an added plausibility when reporting data that reflect badly on minorities. As shall now be reviewed, those data show that residential areas of high immigration settlement suffer significant losses of social trust, sense of belonging, feelings of safety and other measures of social cohesion. As Markus concludes, “[t]his finding supports Putnam’s interpretation that ethnic diversity has a significant negative impact on social cohesion.” 44
Respondents who opposed Muslim immigration expressed a range of concerns. Some were critical of Islam as a religion, others were critical of the non-religious culture of Muslims, accusing it of being incompatible with Western culture. Muslims’ religion or non-religious culture was thought to impede assimilation into Australian society.76 Respondents believed that earlier waves of immigrants had cultures more similar to the Australian mainstream. The strongest critics of Muslim immigration felt that Australia is being colonised by Islam and felt that sharia law poses a threat. Concern about human rights was also raised as an objection to Islam and Muslims’ secular culture. These respondents perceived Muslim immigrants as misogynistic and homophobic. The hijab was seen as a violation of women’s human rights. Other frequently voiced concerns about human rights involved female genital mutilation and Islamic discrimination against other religions.
The reluctance of Australian Muslims to volunteer for the Australian Defence Forces is consistent with the data reviewed earlier on community hostility to Muslims in Australia, especially on the part of long-time Australians. It is consistent with the relatively low levels of charitable volunteering on the part of Middle Easterners compared to the average for native born. The 2007 Scanlon Survey found that individuals of Middle Eastern background had the lowest level of volunteering, at 12.4 per cent, about 40 per cent of the national average.103 The defence analyst, Neil James, has referred to survey findings of low affinity to Australia among some immigrant groups, which indicate that they would not help defend Australia even in time of war. James notes that the armed forces’ difficulty in recruiting immigrants groups is complicated by the existence of radicalised elements of Australia’s Muslim community which would be problematic if deployed overseas in operations against Islamist terrorism.104 James implies that radicalised Muslims feel more loyalty to Islamist causes than to Australia.
The research reviewed in this section confirms the second hypothesis, that Muslim communities are associated with negative social impacts beyond that produced by ethno-religious diversity.
Another complication is that the intermarriage rate is a poor measure of endogamy effort. Two populations with the same rate of intermarriage can have very different traditions promoting marriage within the group, if they are in different circumstances or are of different sizes. For example, imagine two groups both of which in-marry 80 per cent of the time, but the first is 80 per cent of the population while the second is 1 per cent. The first group’s rate of endogamy is consistent with chance alone, while the second group’s rate is only possible if it is segregated in some way or has a highly endogamous culture. Conversely, newly-arrived minorities can be expected to have low rates of intermarriage due to the segregated circumstances of travel, arrival and initial settlement. However, if a minority retains a high rate of in-marriage after a few generations, that is good evidence of a robust endogamous tradition. Looking overseas to other Western societies, Islamic immigrant minorities stand out as resistant to intermarriage.
It is relevant that Greg Sheridan is a long-term advocate of large scale non-European immigration and supporter of ethnic pluralism Sheridan recounted various aggressive acts by Muslims that were related to age, male gender and ethnicity. He witnessed an unprovoked attack on a middle-aged white woman by two Arabic-looking young men. His family was threatened. One of his sons was attacked by local boys of Middle Eastern appearance who “objected to white boys playing cricket”. Another son was “challenged by a boy with a gun”. Sheridan himself suffered abuse for his pro-Israel writings and for being white. “At some point it became unwise to walk on Canterbury Road. A white guy in a suit was a natural target for abuse or a can of beer or something else hurled from a passing car.” He spoke with a senior police officer in the area, who reported elevated levels of violent crime. The nearby Lakemba police station was peppered with bullets. He summarised the decline in social conditions as having three causes: “the growth of a macho, misogynist culture among young men that often found expression in extremely violent crime; a pervasive atmosphere of anti-social behaviour in the streets; and the simultaneous growth of Islamist extremism and jihadist culture.” Three other factors are implied in Sheridan’s examples. The first is the ethnic component of Islamic aggression. He noted that the problem behaviour came from men and boys of “Middle Eastern appearance” and reported their targeting white people.
To summarise, quantitative and qualitative data indicate that Muslims exert negative social impacts on local neighbourhoods significantly beyond that caused by ethno-religious diversity. More than immigrants and minorities in general, Muslims weaken community identity and cohesion, reduce trust and sense of public safety, and increase anti-social behaviour, crime, and unemployment in local areas. In addition, Islamic populations and mosques increase the risk of organised crime and terrorism, a trend expected to last for generations. Mosques contribute to negative social impacts in their areas by attracting Muslims and by reproducing Islamic doctrines and identity. They also slow assimilation by promoting within-group marriage.
How might councils and state planning authorities use that information to evaluate proposals to develop new mosques and other Islamic facilities? The short answer is that planning authorities should consider general social impacts along together with impacts specific to the mosque being proposed. If those proposing a mosque or other Islamic building deny or ignore general negative social impacts, they should be asked to explain why those impacts will not result from their particular proposal. Failure to provide convincing answers should count against the proposal because the social impacts documented in the present study are severe – sharply lower community cohesion, trust and sense of public safety, together with higher crime and unemployment. In other words, there should be a presumption that Islamic facilities have negative social impacts on local areas. The long answer includes legal, political and ethical factors that weight social impacts in the overall planning process. In some circumstances general negative social impacts might not apply. This is a complex matter beyond the scope of a social impact statement, warranting separate treatment. But some relevant factors can be briefly identified. The first factor is the legal and moral reality that the overwhelming majority of Australian Muslims are citizens with full civil and human rights. They are innocent of any crime. They have the same freedom of religion as other Australians, a freedom which entails ready access to places of worship. This is their legal right and accords with the morality of fairness.
Given the federal government’s persistence with transformatory immigration, local government is limited to finding least-worst options, rear-guard amelioration of the worst cases of social breakdown evident in some neighbourhoods of heavy immigration settlement. An alternate approach, which might be called territorial multiculturalism, would be to acknowledge the importance of local communities to the stability of multicultural society. The concentration of ethno-religious groups represents decades of accumulated residential choices and investment in those choices, financial, emotional and aspirational. To allow that distribution to be changed against the wishes of residents is to frustrate their free choice of social environment. To protect people’s choice of social environment, state governments should enforce the requirement that councils assemble social impact studies before approving the commissioning of a religious building. They should work to amend planning laws to ensure that negative social impacts count strongly against approval. They should ensure that proposals liable to change a community’s ethno-religious identity be classified as such to allow informed public discussion. Councils should be authorised to protect a particular cultural identity or mix of identities, if that is in line with the wishes of local citizens. In case of deadlock or controversy, the will of the municipality could be determined by plebiscite. In particular, councils should be authorised to deny applications on the basis of cultural or religious affiliation of the proposed centre, after assessing social impacts. As in other approval matters, state planning authorities could provide an appeals option to give residents recourse should their local council exceed its authority. The resulting approval process would allow citizens to preserve the identity and cohesion of their neighbourhoods, thereby offering them some protection against the social transformation and loss of community documented in the present study.