Fact-Checking Pamela Geller: ‘270 Million’ Victims of Islam?
In her latest post Pamela Geller screeches:
It is time there was a museum exhibit dedicated to the victims of jihad. Where is the Met’s showcase of the lives and cultures and histories of the 270 million victims of over a millennium of jihadi wars, land appropriations, cultural annihilations, and enslavements? Where is the grandiose suite of new galleries dedicated to highlighting Islam’s systematic dehumanization of women: honor killings, clitorectomies, and so much more?
Wow, wow, Pamela, wait there a second. “270 million victims” of Islam? Are you sure? What might be the source for this? She gives no link.
Tears of Jihad
These figures are a rough estimate of the death of non-Muslims by the political act of jihad.
Thomas Sowell [Thomas Sowell, Race and Culture, BasicBooks, 1994, p. 188] estimates that 11 million slaves were shipped across the Atlantic and 14 million were sent to the Islamic nations of North Africa and the Middle East. For every slave captured many others died. Estimates of this collateral damage vary. The renowned missionary David Livingstone estimated that for every slave who reached a plantation, five others were killed in the initial raid or died of illness and privation on the forced march.[Woman’s Presbyterian Board of Missions, David Livingstone, p. 62, 1888] Those who were left behind were the very young, the weak, the sick and the old. These soon died since the main providers had been killed or enslaved. So, for 25 million slaves delivered to the market, we have an estimated death of about 120 million people. Islam ran the wholesale slave trade in Africa.
120 million Africans
The number of Christians martyred by Islam is 9 million [David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2200, William Carey Library, 2001, p. 230, table 4-10] . A rough estimate by Raphael Moore in History of Asia Minor is that another 50 million died in wars by jihad. So counting the million African Christians killed in the 20th century we have:
60 million Christians
Koenard Elst in Negationism in India gives an estimate of 80 million Hindus killed in the total jihad against India. [Koenard Elst, Negationism in India, Voice of India, New Delhi, 2002, pg. 34.] The country of India today is only half the size of ancient India, due to jihad. The mountains near India are called the Hindu Kush, meaning the ‘funeral pyre of the Hindus.’
80 million Hindus
Buddhists do not keep up with the history of war. Keep in mind that in jihad only Christians and Jews were allowed to survive as dhimmis (servants to Islam); everyone else had to convert or die. Jihad killed the Buddhists in Turkey, Afghanistan, along the Silk Route, and in India. The total is roughly 10 million. [David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2200, William Carey Library, 2001, p. 230, table 4-1.]
10 million Buddhists
Oddly enough there were not enough Jews killed in jihad to significantly affect the totals of the Great Annihilation. The jihad in Arabia was 100 percent effective, but the numbers were in the thousands, not millions. After that, the Jews submitted and became the dhimmis (servants and second class citizens) of Islam and did not have geographic political power.
This gives a rough estimate of 270 million killed by jihad.
Let’s go over it step by step.
1. Africans. The number of 120 million victims is, of course, taken from thin air. Even assuming the number of 25 million slaves to be correct, and assuming that “Islam” was responsible for them, one cannot simply multpily the number by a single dodgy statistical point to get some sort of a total number of “dead”.
Notice that the whole transatlantic slave trade is attributed to Islam! Apparently, Christians had nothing to do with it. This way we will soon hear that Confederacy was an Islamic separatist state.
However, when we assume the scope of the Arab slave trade (which existed before Islam) to be between 10-18 million people, to claim that Islam as such is responsible for the associated victims is the same as claiming that Christianity is to blame for the victims of slavery and racism perpetrated by Christians (among many other things).
2. Christians. The first source cited is not quite scholarly. It’s a mish-mash of statistical data, and when it comes to “martyrdom” particularly, there is no careful, scholarly discussion of each particular number as well as its sources, which leaves the question of the reliability of each particular statistic open. Here’s the table 4-10. It is so exhaustive, yet it has only 9 million alleged Christian victims of Muslims (I did not bother to verify by recounting, but table 4-5 does have 9 million alleged victims of Muslims). However then the “Tears of Jihad” article claims that there were 50 million more of them. How did the authors of that table somehow miss these additional millions? If they were so incompetent, why cite their statistics in the first place?
But where is the 50 million figure from? The source is given as “History of Asia Minor” by Raphael Moore. Quick Google search brings up this source, which is an article by Raphael Moore entitled “In Memory Of The 50 Million Victims Of The Orthodox Christian Holocaust”. Its first sub-section is called “History Of Asia Minor: 1894-1923”, which is apparently at the root of confusion for Geller’s source: the name of the sub-section was confused with the name of the complete work. Such brilliant scholarship.
The number “50 million” does appear in the article, but only as a total number of Christians martyred in XXth century!
Between the tolls exacted from prisons, concentration camps, forced marches and exiles, warfare, famine, and brutal military occupation, it is reasonable to conclude that up to 50 million Orthodox Christians have perished in the first eight decades of the twentieth century.
Geller’s source simply took this number and ascribed it to “Jihad”.
(As a side note, this source is also far from scholarly and the number is not calculated properly, but that is already irrelevant for the purposes of the present critique.)
As a contribution to research on the quantity of the Islamic crimes against humanity, we may mention Prof. K.S.Lal’s estimates about the population figures in medieval India (Growth of Muslim Population in India). According to his calculations, the Indian (subcontinent) population decreased by 80 million between 1000 (conquest of Afghanistan) and 1525 (end of Delhi Sultanate). More research is needed before we can settle for a quantitatively accurate evaluation of Muslim rule in India, but at least we know for sure that the term crime against humanity is not exaggerated.
So it’s not Elst’s estimate, but Lal’s estimate. And moreover, it is not an estimate of 80 million murders. It’s an estimate of a population decrease in five centuries, the causes of which may be many, including natural population decrease, conversions, etc.
The problem, however, is that Lal’s estimates are simply fantasies. One cannot take seriously any such estimates based on extremely fragmentary demographic data for the year 1000. Simon Digby writes in his review of Lal’s book, after addressing some of Lal’s assumptions (Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, vol. 38, no. 1, 1975, p. 177):
Regarding the population of India before A.D. 1000 Lal quotes the guesses of Colin Clark - 70 millions - and Jyotindra Mohan Datta - 200 to 300 millions. He himself prefers 200 millions and he believes that, mainly as a result of the Muslim invasions and presence, the population of India fell from 200 millions in A.D. 1000 to 125 millions in A.D. 1500, to rise under more amiable Mughal rule to 175 millions in 1700.
The author is known for his detailed studies of the Khalji dynasty and of the fifteenth century Delhi sultanate. He is well versed in the sources of medieval North Indian history. In the present study he has assembled almost all the conceivably relevant data and for this reason it will remain of value as a compendium of references. Yet the unknown variables are so great and the quality of the data yielded by our sources so poor that almost any detailed general estimates of population based upon them must appear wilful, if not fantastic. At the time when this review was being written, E. J. Hobsbawm (in New Society, 11 July 1974, 76) called the attention of historians of premodern Europe, who dabble in social statistics based on sources of comparable quality to those of Lal, to an axiom of computer operators ‘GIGO’: this stands for ‘Garbage in - Garbage out’!
A reasonable person can agree with this conclusion. Thus, the figure of “80,000,000” Hindus murdered by Muslims is based on nothing but weak speculations.
Interestingly, elsewhere Elst writes:
Prof. K.S. Lal once estimated that the Indian population declined by 50 million under the Sultanate, but that would be hard to substantiate; research into the magnitude of the damage Islam did to India is yet to start in right earnest.
4. Buddhists. The only source given for the alleged Buddhist victims of Muslims is the same book with Christian statistics, not any scholarly historical source about, you know, Buddhists. But when we look at the table 4-1, we only see the number of 10,000,000 Buddhists cited (without sources, I might add; and it contains 80,000,000 alleged Muslim martyrs as well, 10 million more than alleged Christian martyrs, estimated to be 70 million!). There is no indication in the table that these Buddhists were slaughtered by Muslims.
As an atheist, I have no problem with talking about the responsibility of religions for many evils of this world. However I must state that the much bandied about number of “270 million” victims of Islam is total bunk based on nothing.