For the 30 years since “The McLaughlin Group” began to run on network television, the Christmas and New Year’s shows have been devoted to the conferring of annual awards.
The first award on the Christmas show is “Biggest Winner.”
This year, clearly, one of the world’s big winner was — Islam.
For this was the year when what Catholic apologist Hilaire Belloc predicted in 1938 would be the “second period of Islamic power” became manifest to all mankind.
From Morocco to Pakistan, a great awakening is occurring. And perhaps the most dramatic example of Islam rising again came in Egypt, with the fall of the 60-year-old military dictatorship.
With the ouster of Hosni Mubarak after weeks of demonstrations in Tahrir Square, the West hailed the coming of democracy.
But democracy delivered a rude shock. In the first round of voting, over 60 percent of all Egyptians cast their ballots for either the Muslim Brotherhood or the radical Islamist Nour Party of the Salafis. In the second round last week, 75 percent voted Islamist.
In Tunis and Tripoli, too, the overthrow of autocrats revealed a silent majority sympathetic to Islamism.
Recep Erdogan, the most important Turkish ruler since Kemal Ataturk, was a candidate for Time’s Man of the Year as he turned his nation’s back on a century of secularism and embraced a form of Islamism.
Muslim Uighurs seek to rip China’s largest province away from Beijing and establish an East Turkestan. Muslims in the North Caucasus seek to strip Dagestan and Ingushetia out of Russia. In Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans are in retreat and Islamists are celebrating our eviction.
While all the world has heard of the atrocity against Muslims in Srebrenica, that world ignores the desecration and destruction of Orthodox churches and cathedrals in Kosovo and the ethnic cleansing of Serbs by the Muslim Albanians that President Clinton brought to power.
Worldwide, the Muslim population has surpassed Catholicism as the world’s largest religion, with 48 members of the U.N. General Assembly now boasting a Muslim plurality or majority.
India, with 150 million Muslims, has more than both Egypt and Iraq. Russia, with 25 million, has more Muslims than Libya and Jordan combined. China has more than Syria. Five percent of Europe is Muslim, and the numbers continue to rise.
And as with Christianity when it was surging in the 16th and 17th centuries, Islam is marked today by militancy and intolerance. From Nigeria to Ethiopia, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Christians are being made the victims of Muslim pogroms. And as with Christianity in the 16th and 17th centuries, Islam is a house divided, between Shia and Sunni.
If demography is destiny, the future would seem to belong to Islam.
Consider. The six most populous Muslim nations — Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nigeria and Turkey — had a total population of 242 million in 1950. By 2050, that 242 million will have quintupled to 1.36 billion people.
Meanwhile, Europe’s fertility rate has been below zero population growth since the 1970s. Old Europe is dying, and its indigenous peoples are being replaced by Third World immigrants, millions of them Muslim.
Yet there is another side to the Islamic story.
In international test scores of high school students in reading, math and science, not one Muslim nation places in the top 30. Take away oil and gas, and from Algeria to Iran these nations would have little to offer the world. Iran would have to fall back on exports of carpets, caviar and pistachio nuts.
Not one Muslim nation is a member of the G-8 economic powers or the BRIC-four emerging powers — Brazil, Russia, India, China.
In the 20th century, the world saw the rise of the Asian “tigers” — South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong. Where are the Muslim tigers?
A few years back, the gross domestic product of the entire Arab world was only equal to Spain’s. Take away oil and gas, and its exports were equal to Finland’s.
Measured by manufacturing power, the Islamic world, though more populous, cannot hold a candle to China. And while Islam was a civilization superior in some ways to the West from the 7th to 17th century, somewhere that world began to stagnate and decline.
So the question arises: If Islamism is capturing Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, and will capture other Muslim nations as the Arab Spring advances, where is the historic evidence that these Islamic regimes can convert their states into manufacturing and military powers?
Where is the evidence that Islamist regimes, such as Sudan and Iran, can deliver what their peoples demanded when they brought down the dictators?
And if, like the communist regimes of the 20th century, they cannot deliver the good life that the rebels sought when they dumped the tyrants, what will follow Islamism, when Islamism inevitably fails?
In the long run, does Islamism really own the future of the Islamic world? Or has the clock begun to run on the fundamentalists as well?