I’m counting down the top myths people have about Islam & Muslims. At #3 on my countdown is the myth that all Muslims are Arabs.
Do you remember that crazy lady with the Einstein hair who asked John McCain if Barack Obama was an Arab?
Well, let me refresh your memory:
We’re willing to bet there’s more than a 20 percent chance this woman meant to say “Muslim” but accidentally said “Arab” because same thing, right?
And even if you’re not in the tea party camp, where you’re convinced “Arab” and “Muslim” are interchangeable, you’ve probably operated under a similar assumption: that non-Jewish Middle Eastern people are Muslim and that most Muslims live in the Middle East.
Only about 20 percent of the entire world’s Muslim population is Arab or North African.
For comparison, about 22 percent of the global Christian population is African, yet when somebody says “Christian,” you don’t immediately picture a man from Africa. Equating “Muslim” with “Arab” makes just as much sense.
While we in the West have been conditioned to associate Islam with the Middle East, a whopping 61.9 percent of all Muslims — AKA the supermajority — don’t live in the Middle East at all; most Muslims live in the Asia-Pacific region. Indonesia alone is home to more than 200 million Muslims, and the Indian subcontinent has roughly a half-billion Muslims.
It works the other way, too. For example, if you think being Arab guarantees you being Muslim these days, well, i’m sorry to disappoint. As much as 10 percent of the world’s Arab population is Christian (that’s more than 14 million people).
That means there are 1 million more Arab Christians than, oh, I don’t know … the world’s entire Jewish population.
Stay tuned as I’ll be rounding up the countdown with a double post tomorrow.