Juan Cole starts his Terrorism and the other Religions with this assertion
Contrary to what is alleged by bigots like Bill Maher#, Muslims are not more violent than people of other religions. Murder rates in most of the Muslim world are very low compared to the United States.After examining Cole's claims about religions and war and political death, I got to wondering if it was really the case that "Murder rates in most of the Muslim world are very low compared to the United States." Turns out it doesn't seem to be the case. It depends on whether 'most' means 'nearly all' or 'the largest number' and whether 'very low' means simply 'less than' or a 'lot less than.' And how defines the "Muslim" world.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime actually compiles statistics on homicides which can be found on Wikipedia here. I've made a list of US and Islamic countries, which I'm taking to be majority population, excluding countries where Muslims are a plurality or large minority.
If I had more time and wasn't so rusty on statistics, I would do a bell curve (on all countries or the subset below) and define "very low" as one or two standard deviations below the U.S, Would you say a very low comparative murder rate would be one-half, one-fourth, or one-tenth of the United States? Let's go with one-half.
As you can see in the table below, seventeen (17) Muslim countries countries have higher murder rates than the United States, including Sudan, Indonesia, and Senegal. Another twelve (12) have reported murder less than the US, but more than fifty percent of the U.S. rate That group includes Iran, Palestine, and Turkey. That's a total of thirty-nine (39). By this criteria, twenty-three (23) Muslim countries have "very low" murder rates compared to the U.S. That less than most.
Another eight (8) Muslim countries have reported rates less than fifty percent (50%) but greater than forty percent (40%) of the U.S., including Malaysia and Kuwait. By this criteria, only fifteen (15) Muslim countries have "very low" rates compared to the U.S. That's even less than most
In sum, I think Cole's claim that "Murder rates in most of the Muslim world are very low compared to the United States" should be rejected.
|UNODC murder rates most recent year (full table here)|
|Burkina Faso||18.0||2,876||Africa||Western Africa|
|Sierra Leone||14.9||837||Africa||Western Africa|
|United States||4.8||14,748||Americas||Northern America|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||1.5||56||Europe||Southern Europe|
|Saudi Arabia||1.0||265+||Asia||Western Asia|
|United Arab Emirates||0.8||39||Asia||Western Asia|
# I don't think Cole fairly represents Maher here, at least not in the clip I've seen.