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I live in a mostly atheistic country. I have often heard the claim that Muslim people commit more crimes than others, especially that they are thieves due to their religion. Is there is any truth to it.

  • Does Islam proclaim thievery?
  • Is there a causal relationship between being a Muslim and stealing something? How about being violent, such as hitting or murdering someone (sans sexual violence)?

I have heard time and time again that there is a relationship between Islam and crimes, but nobody have been able to produce any sort of evidence except appeals to common held beliefs. I'm sure most people living in a western country have met these sentiments.

closed as off-topic by Oddthinking Jan 12 '15 at 1:26

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  • I've reopened, let's see if it works this way. I am not familiar with the claim so I can't really help you. It sounds like something that could be explained as a correlation due to education/income. – Sklivvz Feb 12 '14 at 15:49
  • For reference: misconceptions-about-islam.com/cut-off-hands-theft.htm – cHao Feb 12 '14 at 15:56
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    At least for sexual offenses, you'll get different stat. In countries with Sharia Law, women to prove rape women have to have four male witnesses which is impossible. If she can't prove that, she'll be punished for adultery. Even if countries without Sharia Law, women have to suffer social oppression. That's why Arab countries have so low reported rapes. More interestingly, they claim low reported rapes because women are bound to wear burqa. – user Feb 15 '14 at 2:03
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    With regards to 'sans sexual violence', one word: Rotherham. – Benjol Sep 15 '14 at 8:08
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    Some shaky data says yes: Islam = .8% of US population (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_the_United_States#Islam) but 7.2% of prisoners (patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/07/16/…) – Loren Pechtel Jan 12 '15 at 3:33
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I did my own table to review pure numbers.

I took the top 11, and bottom 11 nations by "religiosity" and referenced numbers from Wikipedia's religious numbers and also added murder rates (most available crime data it seems) and then added in poverty

My own chart, once complete looked like this:

Country Religious   Homicide Rate   Religion    Poverty
Azerbaijan  96.9    2.2 Muslim  11
Bangledesh  89.9    2.7 Muslim  26
Belarus 71.2    4.9 Christian   27.1
Democratic Republic Congo   95.8    30.8    Christian   71
Czech Republic  76.4    0.8 Unaffiliated    9
Denmark 83.5    0.9 Christian   13.4
Djibouti    96  3.4 Muslim  42
Egypt   94.9    1.2 Muslim  20
Estonia 59.6    5.2 Unaffiliated    17.5
France  63  1.1 Christian   6.2
Hong Kong   56.1    0.2 Unaffiliated    NA
Indonesia   87.2    8.1 Muslim  13.33
Japan   57  0.3 Unaffiliated    16
Malawi  82.7    36  Christian   53
Mongolia    55.1    8.7 Buddhist    39.2
Morocco 99  1.4 Muslim  15
Norway  84  2.3 Christian   NA
Senegal 96.4    8.7 Muslim  5.4
Sierra Leone    78  14.9    Muslim  70.2
Sri Lanka   69.3    3.6 Buddhist    8.9
Sweden  67  1   Christian   NA
United Arab Emirates    79.6    0.8 Muslim  19.5

Note Religious in my graph is percentage of the population who are in the majority religion.

I then made this chart, sorted by highest homicide rate, and added in poverty for the sake of seeing other possible ideas / solutions:

enter image description here

Worth noting is the rate of each religion here too:

christian   7   31.82
muslim  9   40.91
buddhist    2   9.09
unaffiliated    4   18.18

In the top 5 most homicidal countries, Muslim is on the list twice. In the top 11 (half), Muslim slots in 5 times, and 4 times in the bottom 11. This seems pretty even handed to me.

Although Buddhism has 100% of its representation in the top 11!

And finally, for the sake of mentioning it, unaffiliated is 75% in the least homicidal half of the chart.


My conclusion is that Islam does not lead to higher crime rates. At least not as the sole predictor. If there was a good predictor, from what I gathered above it is poverty. Most likely though, in my opinion the nations with the highest crime rates have a very complex explanation that includes poverty, diversity (or lack thereof), region and religion.

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    You simply assume that if a country has x% of its citizens following a given religion, the same x% of criminals will also follow this religion. What if most crimes are committed by minorities? Take Italy: 77% of citizens are Christians but 35% of inmates in prisons are actually from Muslim-majority countries. – Rabbit Feb 14 '14 at 17:43
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    @Rabbit a valid point, and well worth exploring. But that would also force us to consider if they are actually criminal or just discriminated against... – AthomSfere Feb 14 '14 at 19:44
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    It's a good attempt but it's too much original research and you get it wrong. Rabbit's point is one point, but the elephant in the room is the correlation with education and wealth. That is a poor education or wealth are clearly causes of crime, independently of religion. Religious affiliation is also clearly related to wealth and education, in some countries. This explains a lot of number without any causation. – Sklivvz Feb 16 '14 at 10:48
  • -1: Original research. – Oddthinking Feb 17 '14 at 21:47
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    @Sklivvz and Oddthinking : It is compiled, not original research... But, it was the above was my best attempt at refuting a direct correlation. Although admittedly there are dozens of more variables that could help explain or explain it differently. – AthomSfere Feb 17 '14 at 22:50

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