Islamophobia Is an Epic Waste of Time and Energy and This Graph Shows Exactly Why


After the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, claimed responsibility for Tuesday's coordinated attacks in Brussels, which left at least 34 dead and 230 injured, a predictable Islamophobic backlash ensued — as it has in the wake of many attacks committed by self-professed Muslims. 

But political scientist and New York University professor Ian Bremmer tweeted a chart on Tuesday which demonstrated just how dumb it is to hold all Muslims accountable for the acts of a radical, small minority. 

The chart was accompanied by four words: "Terrorists. Muslims. Needle. Haystack."


Pakistani journalist Raza Ahmad Rumi retweeted Bremmer's tweet, asking, "Yet ALL Muslims have to share collective guilt & punishment?"

Indeed, many Muslims took to social media in the immediate aftermath, looking to thwart the inevitable surge of Islamaphobia.

A breakdown of the numbers: In Bremmer's infographic, comparative circles representative of the proportion of Muslims belonging to four groups sit side-by-side: the global population, ISIS members, Taliban and al-Qaida. 

There are an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, according to the Pew Research Center. While the number of ISIS fighters — an amorphous group spread across multiple countries — is extremely difficult to estimate, numbers have ranged from as low as 9,000 to as high as 200,000. However, the 200,000 is an outlier, a prediction made by Kurdish President Massoud Barzani's chief of staff, Fuad Hussein, and other estimates cap at 100,000.

The highest estimate on the chart of 100,000 ISIS fighters means they account for 0.00625% of the global Muslim population. For argument's sake, using the 200,000 estimate still only puts ISIS at 0.0125% of the population. 

Comprising an even smaller portion of Muslims is the Taliban. Bremmer's chart cites a figure of 36,000 Taliban members, which would account for 0.00225% of Muslims. And while this estimate from 2010 may be outdated, the more recent estimates of about 60,000 would account for only 0.00375% of all Muslims.

Then there's al-Qaida. The chart predicts there are fewer than 10,000. Core membership is estimated to be less than 1,000, while second-tier membership could range anywhere from thousands to tens of thousands, making 10,000 — or 0.000625% of Muslims — a reasonable, if moderately conservative estimate.

Therefore, tweets like these are, at best, misguided:

Because even when you add all those number up together, the proportion of radical Islamists still only accounts for 0.010625% of the world's Muslims. 

So, here's to the 99.989375%.