of Imperialist Aggression Against
the Muslim World
of the most politically explosive incidents in this history of American
foreign aid took place in Nigeria in early 1991. That was when a
group of researchers uncovered a plot to plant fake Islamic teaching
manuals in religious institutions in northern Nigeria.
to newspaper reports appearing in several part of Nigeria during
1991 and 1992, the texts -- which presented an ideology in stark
contrast to traditional Islamic views of contraception, abortion,
and sterilization -- were written by a self-proclaimed "Islamic
theologian" who received funds from UNFPA. Additional money was
supplied by at least three U.S. government contractors involved
in the promotion of birth control in developing nations.
yet, the author of the "Islamic" booklets had participated in the
preparation of a long-term "threat assessment" for the U.S. Department
of Defence which recommended that population control be placed by
western policy planners at the top of the International security
project coincided with an enormous, high-pressure operation involving
several developed country governments, the World Bank, and the United
Nations to compel Nigeria's leaders to adopt a "population policy"
-- a publicly articulated government position that favours measures
to slash birth-rates. Such policies have been imposed on other nations
through the joint efforts of international financial institutions
and aid donors. As a general rule, the process involves conditions
attached to loans and grants of foreign aid, threats to take actions
adverse to the host country's economic or political interests, campaigns
of disinformation carried out under the U.S. Agency for International
Development's "technical assistance" programme, and ultimatums issued
through diplomatic channels.
adopted such a population reduction policy in 1988. It was met with
predictable scepticism and condemnation.
reality, however, far-sighted American officials had timed the hoax
to start two years before the agreement was reached requiring Nigeria
to initiate the U.S.-imposed population policy. According to an
internal memorandum written by one of the U.S. contractors, the
guides were part of a larger program to "explore the feasibility
of working with organizations involved in family planning where
Islamic attitude and opinion are important to program development
idea was to attribute the texts to the Nigerian government through
a series of payments to one Dr. A.B. Sulaiman, then an official
of the Ministry of Health, who was given responsibility for coordinating
a series of seminars and workshops expressly intended to undermine
religious opposition to birth control. The overall goal of the campaign,
according to a written contract, was to launch an "active explanatory
effort to dispel the existing misconceptions about inconsistencies
between Islamic teachings and population policy and family planning
all the carefully laid plans, of which the "Islamic" teaching materials
were to form the cornerstone, the manual itself was never distributed.
Religious leaders and reporters learned about the scheme from friends
in the United States, and negative publicity ended the campaign.
other things, it was discovered that:
author of the text, which was called A Resource Manual on Islam
and Family Planning with Special Reference to the Maliki School,
was one Abdel Rahim Omran, an Egyptian residing in the United
States who had worked as an occasional adviser to the World Bank
and who also conducted frequent missions abroad to promote birth
control among Muslims on behalf of the United Nations Population
the time of the discovery, Omran was the administrative head of
a pro-Israel "think-tank" based at the University of Maryland.
A 1989 newsletter from that institution's Centre for Development
and Conflict Management described a recent trip by Omran to Africa
and Asia, where Omran "coordinated and took part in a series of
conferences on family planning in the Muslim world" and helped
to engineer "a shift in attitudes from stiff resistance to acceptance
of family planning."
of all, Omran was working as a special consultant to the Department
of Defence in 1988, when a series of studies was commissioned
to examine dangers to U.S. national security posed by population
trends. The studies, published in summary form by the Georgetown
Centre for Strategic and International Studies a year later, warned
of dwindling NATO troop strength and increased competition for
government funds between military and social programs -- this
the result of low birth-rates and the aging of the population.
"Instead of relying on the canard that the threat dictates one's
posture, [U.S. policymakers] must attempt to influence the form
that threat assumes," the summary concludes. "[U.S.] policymakers
must anticipate events and conditions before they occur. They
must employ all the instruments of statecraft at their disposal
(development assistance and population planning every bit as much
as new weapon systems)."
participating in the Pentagon's 1988 demographic threat assessment
project was Thomas Goliber of the Futures Group, a Washington-based
research centre that specializes in government contracts in the
fields of development and military research. It was the Futures
Group that initiated the contract with Omran to write the theological
source documents that were to be distributed in Nigeria. A United
Nations directory of firms and organizations working on population
programs identified the Futures Group as "a private organization
concerned with policy analysis, development, and strategic planning,"
which works in "support of the analytical activities of several
USAID proxy contributing funds to the Omran scheme was the Pathfinder
Fund, based near Boston, Massachusetts. According to a guide to
population activities produced yearly by the United Nations, the
Pathfinder project consisted of an effort to "revise source documents
on Islam and family planning for theologians and teachers," as
well as an endeavour to promote family planning among Islamic
leaders, "to develop 'prototype' concepts and project designs
in support of Islam and population policy development," and to
locate "new materials needed from particularly Islamic leaders
on certain topics for further use."
brief overview of the organizations directly involved in the fake
document scam reveals the extent to which the United States is willing
to go in order to undermine Islamic institutions in pursuit of its
most U.S.-based population groups, Pathfinder has a colourful background.
It was organized in the late 1920s by the eccentric soap company
heir Clarence Gamble to promote "racial cleansing" in the United
States through an unsuccessful attempt to hire black clergymen to
preach contraceptives to the masses. According to a 1995 history
of intervention in Latin America, Thy Will Be Done by Gerard Colby
and Charlotte Dennett (Harper-Collins Publishers, New York), Pathfinder
was one of several population-oriented "non-governmental" organizations
which received money for its overseas operations from the Central
recently, the group has been involved in a series of activities
financed through the USAID Office of Population. Many of its "development
aid" efforts could fairly be described as sabotage.
directory of population projects in developing countries is published
every year by the United Nations Population Fund. A recent edition
lists a series of "three-day orientation seminars on population
and family planning" that were conducted in Indonesia by Pathfinder
for "120 religious leaders representing 70 conservative Islamic
religious schools toward a goal of motivating them to become active
supporters of the family planning movement." In Bangladesh, according
to the same source, Pathfinder is responsible for implementing an
"Islam and Family Planning" project in which 20 publications addressing
ideas about birth control are to be prepared and distributed. Also
in Bangladesh, Pathfinder is involved with a project that holds
"receptions to honour two-child couples" and otherwise acts to "promote
the two-child family as a social norm" and stress the health benefits
of birth control -- "all within the context of Islam." Meanwhile,
in Gambia, Pathfinder operates a "male motivation project" and a
simultaneous exercise to dispatch "peer counsellors" to dispel "misunderstandings"
about the benefits of U.S.-sponsored birth control.
Nov. 14, 1986 memorandum to Pathfinder included the draft of a plan
for circulation of the Omran text, revealing that the program was
intended to counter an inclination on the part of Nigeria's Muslims
"to be especially conservative and traditional" about matters involving
draft included this warning: "Any tendency toward politicisation
in this matter might have serious effects." This cover memo was
written by Moye W. Freymann and Linda Lacy of the Carolina Population
Centre in Chapel Hill, North Carolina -- yet another actor in the
U.S. effort to check population growth in the South.
contract with USAID, the Carolina Population Centre, housed at the
University of North Carolina, centre drew up the plans for a $100
million population program which is widely credited with having
brought about a reversal of Nigeria's pro-natalist policy in 1988.
According to a computer database of USAID population activities,
the centre is also active in the design and evaluation of population
control activities in several other countries, including Indonesia,
Egypt, and Jordan.
ON THE FRONTLINES:
THE BUILDING OF POLITICAL
AND SOCIAL CONSTITUENCIES
controversial as it became once exposed, the Omran scheme is in
reality a only very small part of a larger assault on Islamic institutions
in Nigeria. An even larger propaganda activity is being run with
USAID money by the Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins University.
"population communication project," as USAID calls it, received
some $60 million in U.S. government funds between 1990 and 1995
for the dissemination of "messages" via the mass media. That global
project was supplemented by an additional $15 million for communication
activities within Nigeria alone.
to an agreement between Johns Hopkins and USAID -- written in 1988,
the year the population policy went into force -- the programme
is intended to produce and distribute tens of thousands of newspaper
articles, radio and television programs, dramas and announcements,
commercial and educational films, music recordings, traditional
entertainment, posters and booklets, special magazine inserts, and
other propaganda for distribution throughout Nigeria in a variety
of local languages.
the specific aims of its so-called "population communication services"
campaign is the production of five-minute testimonials from religious
leaders for broadcast in appropriate regions of the country, outreach
campaigns for opinion leaders, and the preparation of "special materials
addressed to specific groups," including promotional literature
on "Islam and family planning." According to the same 1988 project
authorization, these activities are designed to create "a broad
political and social constituency supportive of family planning
policies and programs" and to achieve "significant attitudinal changes
favouring smaller family norms."
use of clandestine communications to influence attitudes toward
birth prevention is a risky, expensive, and complicated enterprise.
Messages must be carefully and scientifically prepared before dissemination,
so as to maximize the use of cultural symbolism and exploit the
vulnerabilities of target groups. Often the process entails the
most meticulous sort of sociological analysis, the recruitment of
"in-place operatives" to assist in the development of themes; and
a drawn-out process of audience pre-testing by which the reactions
of targets are tested and analysed and messages are revised over
and over until they provoke just the right response. Furthermore,
the opinions of local people must be tested continuously in order
to identify changes in attitudes and behaviour among specific groups
(and sub-groups) who have been exposed to various aspects of the
with such sophisticated precautions in place, however, mistakes
can -- and do -- happen. A message may lack subtlety and arouse
misgivings. A local recruit may grow suspicious of the activities
in which he or she is involved. Or, a public dispute about hiring
or payment can erupt, jeopardizing the anonymity of the sponsor.
For this reason, contacts are usually kept several steps away from
the government or institution carrying out the action, with dummy
corporations and front groups often serving as barriers to detection.
of the risks inherent in media manipulation, it is crucial that
institutions or organizations carrying out such programmes on behalf
of the U.S. government have a solid background in this kind of undertaking.
Indeed, Johns Hopkins brings special expertise -- and experience
-- to the task.
the late 1940s to the early 1960s, the school served as a focal
point for the development of the U.S. government's modern psychological
warfare program. Under a contract between the U.S. Army and the
Johns Hopkins University's Operations Research Office, the school
researched and published several books and analytical reports which
became the standard teaching materials for military psy-war personnel.
of these publications -- A Psychological Warfare Casebook, an 880-page
volume published in 1958 by the Johns Hopkins University Press --
contains basic guidelines for mass media campaigns to influence
foreign audiences. "Themes used in any one campaign should not be
large in number but they should be carefully selected, timely, and
appropriate to the objectives sought and to the target audience
or audiences addressed, and should be suitable for conveyance by
the media of dissemination available," says one chapter in a section
on "Media, Methods, and Techniques." It adds that the ideologies
spread must appear "reasonable, timely, logical, and in accord with
existing conditions," and that they must also be "expressed in the
proper idiom, language, and accent in order to elicit the most widespread
and sympathetic hearing." Moreover, continues the text, "messages
must appear to be credible to the group addressed ... [and] presented
in a manner consistent with the target audience's cultural background
section in the same Operations Research Office publication discusses
the "black propaganda" operation -- essentially an attempt to present
messages in such a way that audiences falsely believe them to originate
with members of their own community. In this respect, says the 1958
psy-war reference text, "black propaganda requires operatives thoroughly
acquainted with every relevant aspect of the society and culture
"black" media operation also requires a substantial amount of "accurate
intelligence" and the recruitment of collaborators from within the
target population. Says the same textbook, "Full length ideological
articles, positive and negative, can be provided, and if native
journalists having sufficient integrity, intensity of conviction,
identification with the 'best interests' of the group being propagandised,
and persuasive skill can be secured, long-term propaganda effects
may be forth coming."
another section of the Johns Hopkins Operations Research Office
Psychological Warfare Casebook is headed, "Music -- a Medium for
Psychological Warfare," and describes the success of overseas radio
campaigns that have utilized music as a means to disguise the propaganda
content of broadcasts.
can hardly be considered a surprise (or a coincidence) that the
1988 USAID-Johns Hopkins contract for population propaganda in Nigeria
calls for actions that appear to jump right off the pages of the
old Army psy-war instruction book. In fact, a "programme description"
included as part of the written contract calls for:
contract is likewise explicit about the intelligence-gathering function
of the "population communication" project, as well the fact that the
messages are intended falsely-attributed to local sources, as outlined
in the "black propaganda" section of the Johns Hopkins psychological
for media practitioners (such as producers and managers of television
and radio, and editors and journalists of newspapers and magazines)...
observation study tours for selected media practitioners... motivational
and technical video programs for broadcast, or for transfer onto
16 mm film to be shown through mobile vans...
music project [undertaken] nationally and by region to the end
that popular songs containing family planning themes are composed
and recorded by popular local musicians, and distributed and aired.
and meetings for traditional and religious leaders at the national,
regional, state and [local] levels... [assisting with] constituency-building
activities addressed to influential groups, professional associations,
and opinion leaders... motivation sessions for elders who could,
in turn, influence younger generations... special materials addressed
to specific groups (e.g. Islam and family planning...)
integration of] family planning messages into existing popular
radio and television series (variety shows and soap operas), and
into newspaper and magazine sections.
of] at least 3,000 television, radio, film, and folk media programs
and spots, and newspaper and magazine inserts in at least five
languages, [for] dissemination and use by Nigeria's 22 television
and 35 radio stations, by its 19 daily and 18 weekly newspapers,
and by its 9 major nationwide magazines.
television and radio fillers with family planning messages, including
recorded testimonials from traditional and religious leaders...
television and radio specials and serials... television and radio
spots, jingles, and newspaper ads.
contractor will identify and segregate audiences by age, sex, ethnic
group, religion, residence (urban-rural), literacy, and language,
determine the media and the messages optimally appropriate for each
audience, and employ media and messages based on this determination,"
says the project description. It adds, "The contractor will optimise
the influence of its family planning messages by taking all necessary
and appropriate actions to assure these messages are clear, focused,
consistent, reinforcing, and culturally appropriate, and that they
are frequently and conspicuously disseminated and distributed by
familiar, credible, and multiple channels of communication."
AND EXPERTS: 'INTERPRETING ISLAM DIFFERENTLY'
mass media is not the only means by which foreign-funded "aid" programmes
have attempted to undermine the influence of Muslim leaders to suit
the needs of the global population control scheme. Another that
is especially useful for influencing leaders is the "conference
a classic scenario, a conference will be organized by some major
institution involved in the population program -- the U.S. Agency
for International Development, the World Bank, the United Nations,
or a combination of institutions. But the donor invariably selects
a local organization to serve as its "official" host.
a meeting is almost always billed as a forum for the debate of "all"
points of view. But the foreign donor takes care to ensure that
participants advocating its own ideology are in the majority. This
not only provides the opportunity to claim that the outcome represents
a "consensus" -- it also serves to discredit the views held by others,
who are deliberately made to look like a defeated minority.
typical meeting of this sort was convened in Indonesia on Feb. 19-24,
1990 as the International Congress on Islam and Population Policy.
A memorandum from the files of the New York-based Association for
Voluntary Surgical Contraception, an American aid contractor specializing
in sterilization, notes that the meeting demonstrated a "positive
shift" in opinion in favour of western family planning. These changes
in attitude, the April 6, 1990 report explains, "are related to
continuously educating and informing religious leaders on the various
dimensions of the population problem, and the health conditions
of the child and mother in case of unplanned growth of the population,
so that they can interpret Islamic teaching differently."
same memorandum, written by Zein Khairullah, describes the purpose
of the 1990 conference as to "develop a plan of action to encourage
cooperation among countries in the Muslim world in the area of development
and population" and to explore "alternatives and options for the
formulation of population policy in the framework of national development
in the Muslim world during the 1990s."
recommendations include prompt action to assure the "propagation
of Islamic values ... including the eradication of misconceptions
of Islamic attitudes toward population issues." The memorandum adds:
"The congress further urges all Muslim countries to formulate population
policies according to country specific needs, and integrate these
policies into development plans and giving them [sic] high priority."
the highlight of the 1990 conference was the approval of the Aceh
Declaration, which called upon "all Muslim Communities the world
over to initiate and/or promote a concerted and coordinated effort
in the fields of population policies and population programs."
like the one in Indonesia are meant to be publicized throughout
the world as major political events. Thus it is curious that many
of the same "experts" and "opinion leaders" seem to surface at almost
all of them.
1990 Congress, in fact, was the second such meeting that had taken
place in Indonesia. An earlier and smaller one was held there six
years before. Indeed, according to a 1984 report in the International
Planned Parenthood Federation's journal, People, the 1984 gathering
was the outgrowth of yet another rendezvous which took place in
Seoul, South Korea in 1980. The South Korea forum, says IPPF, officially
created the congress, placing it under the direction of one Prof.
Abdel Rahim Omran, an Egyptian living in the United States, and
the key figure in the aborted conspiracy to plant revised religious
documents about birth control in Nigerian teaching institutions.
even more incredible history surrounds the group which was publicly
charged with sponsorship of the 1990 gathering in Indonesia -- the
International Islamic Center for Population Studies and Research
in Cairo, Egypt. It, too, can be traced to a "conference of experts
which took place almost 20 years earlier.
RESISTANCE: THE CREATION OF SURROGATE INSTITUTIONS
the International Islamic Centre for Population Studies and Research
did not begin its active life until 1975, its roots can be traced
to another "expert" conference -- this one organized by the London-based
International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and held at Rabat
in December of 1971.
sponsor is important. IPPF is an outgrowth of the U.S. birth control
and "eugenics" movements which established an "international headquarters
at London in 1948 with funds from multinational corporations and
explicitly racist organizations. Its purpose of existence was to
extend "modern" birth control methods to virtually all of the non-industrialized
is also mentioned in formerly-classified planning files as a partner
of the U.S. government in the effort to curb population growth and
to contain the rise of the southern hemisphere. One such document,
a report prepared in May of 1976 by a population task force of the
Under Secretaries Committee of the National Security Council, offers
a lengthy analysis of U.S. efforts to encourage population policies
in developing countries. According to the report, population reduction
policies had been rejected by most nations because of disagreements
about the "need to inhibit fertility, because of suspicions about
western motives, or for reasons related to what the task force called
memorandum suggests that the government overcome such "sensitivities"
by using groups considered "private" or "international" as fronts.
According to its analysis, "support of family planning in uncommitted
countries will normally have to be through international organizations
like UNFPA and WHO and private voluntary organizations like the
IPPF. [Such] organizations should be encouraged ... particularly
in countries whose sensitivities make a direct approach on population
IPPF-initiated Rabat gathering was attended by carefully-selected
persons from predominantly Muslim nations. During the proceedings,
a telegram from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was read
which proposed the creation of a "demographic research centre"
at Cairo's influential Al-Azhar University. The proposal was explained
to conferees by one "Mr. Heneidi," the UNFPA representative
at the conference, who said the new centre would be involved in
religious and scientific training, publishing, sponsorship of seminars
and workshops, and providing advice to other nations. It was also
stressed during the meeting that the university's religious faculty
would play a key role in the creation of the new centre and that
its activities would be in accord with Islamic beliefs.
the sponsorship of the conference suggests otherwise. Indeed, history
proves that the real goal was to gain a controlling interest in
a research institute with credibility throughout the Islamic world
-- thereby making it possible to orchestrate a series of gradual
changes to introduce "new" opinions about population.
its first years of operation, the centre maintained a low profile,
issuing no major pronouncements that might attract suspicions about
the its sponsors or their motives. Then in 1979, after the establishment
had undergone a "honeymoon period" and had largely avoided critical
scrutiny, it launched a three-day "Pan-Islamic Congress on Motherhood"
which, in the words of a report appearing in a U.S. government-financed
database, "urged Muslim women to avoid too many closely spaced pregnancies"
and "to avoid high parity." The conference expressly approved the
promotion of birth control among Muslim women. A year later, a paper
presented at another conference on "Population and Family Planning"
openly discussed the need for research to determine "the influence
of Islam on contraceptive attitudes and practice."
the 1980s, the centre's pronouncements became more and more directly
supportive of western population control aims, and the institute
itself evolved into the hub for export of "revised" Islamic opinion
that its founders had intended.
to a directory of population groups published at the U.N., the centre's
activities are varied. It conducts studies on "the implications
of demographic trends," the "linkages between population growth
and socio-economic development," and other "basic population data."
More importantly, it carries out studies concerning the "socio-cultural
determinants of fertility" and "attitudes to family planning," and
participates in "communication" campaigns designed to "dispel misinformation
on Islam and family planning." It also operates a study centre providing
"professional and general education in the context of Islam" which
is designed to promote "awareness" of population issues among staff
and students at Islamic teaching institutions around the world.
The centre's budget is surprisingly small in comparison to that
of most other population organizations, particularly when one considers
the broad scope of its work and its crucial importance in breaking
down barriers to population reduction among the world's Muslims.
Indeed, the centre received slightly less than $400,000 from UNFPA
for its population work in 1990.
the discrepancy can be explained by the way in which the centre
works with its outside financiers. The institute's most conspicuous
activity is its presence at international conferences where its
pronouncements are treated as if they were the views of the entire
Muslim world. But the role of the centre in these events is actually
quite limited. In fact, such conferences are nearly always the creation
of foreign aid donors, lending institutions, and powerful global
family planning organizations.
other words, the centre is a mouthpiece for a pronouncements from
the west which -- like the "black propaganda" of the Johns Hopkins
University Operations Research Office and population communication
project -- must be attributed to a credible source. Thus, it is
necessary only that the university's name be lent to various declarations
to lend authority to otherwise-suspect ideas, while the expense
of formulating and disseminating these opinions to governments,
academic institutions, conferences, and the press is borne by the
foreign donors themselves.
might expect that such cynical manipulation would be far too sensitive
to be discussed openly in journals and other literature. But a surprising
number of reports give relatively explicit descriptions of project
example, the UNFPA, using its institute at Al-Azhar as a front,
planned to conduct a five-year communication campaign targeting
Somali religious leaders starting in 1990. The centrepiece of
the ideological influence operation was a three-day conference
on "Islam and Child Spacing," which took place at Mogadishu in
July 1990. This description of the conference and its goals appears
in a conference summary prepared for the U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID): "It served as a forum for exchanging opinions
on the concepts of Islam on child spacing and formation of the
Muslim family with [the intent] to motivate responsible officials
in Somalia to begin planning to solve its population problems."
database of population research maintained with U.S. government
funds notes the results of attitude surveys done in Amara Haggo,
Sudan. According to the report, none of the women interviewed
in the region during 1991 were using any form of contraception,
and most cited religious reasons for their refusal to do so. The
report includes the following recommendation: "Health educators
should refrain from using the terms family planning, birth control,
or limiting the number of children since these could imply sin.
They should use instead birth spacing which emphasizes the health
of mother and child."
File, a newsletter of the IPPF which helped to set up the population
center at Al-Azhar, describes a similar campaign in Bangladesh
in its October 1991 issue. According to Mukkaram Chowdhury, chief
of the IPPF-affiliated Family Planning Association of Bangladesh,
the group is waging a propaganda campaign to convince Muslims
and others not using birth control that large families are the
cause of poverty, and that limiting births is the key to "responsible"
June 1991 report from the East-West Population Institute, a U.S.-funded
group active in Asia, concludes that Islamic religious views are
the main reason for high fertility in Pakistan, and urges that
population programs find creative ways of enlisting the support
of religious leaders.
1988 USAID project evaluation hints that people were offered bribes
or other inducements to state pro-family planning opinions in
a mass media campaign to popularise modern fertility control in
Egypt through television programs. In the words of a database
of USAID project activities: "According to the evaluation team,
the presence of television video crews and the provision of small
incentives during the question and answer sessions contribute
to the success of these programs."
August 1991 issue of the UNFPA newsletter Population reports that
several Islamic leaders from Zanzibar had been recruited for special
orientation sessions arranged by the U.N. group and held in Egypt.
The article notes that virtually all of Zanzibar's people are
Muslim and thus hold the view that "family planning is a contravention
of God's commandments." It adds that the teaching program was
explicitly intended to "counter such misbeliefs" and to persuade
religious leaders to "spread the family planning message."
VULNERABILITIES: THE 'IMAM PROJECT' IN GAMBIA
another alarming story about the deception of Muslim peoples in
West Africa appears in the December 1992 edition of the U.S. journal,
International Family Planning Perspectives. The report is a narrative
of a program run by two American foreign aid contractors -- the
Population Council and Save the Children Federation (SCF) -- with
the help of the local IPPF affiliate in Gambia.
to the journal, residents of Gambia had overwhelmingly opposed to
western-style birth control, believing, in the words of the article,
that such interference with procreation is "discouraged by Islamic
teachings." The response of the aid groups, it says, was to start
a special project "to involve imams willing to teach about the connections
between Islam, health, and family planning."
report quotes a Population Council worker, Placide Tapsoba, who
helped organize the campaign: "The spiritual head of each village
is the imam. The people rely on him more than anyone else in the
village; what the imam preaches is what they believe. If he preaches
against family planning, they trust him. That is why we chose to
go through the imam to reach the people."
nearly U.S.$100,000 to spend on the "imam project," its planners
went to work trying to recruit religious leaders who would be willing
to "stress the compatibility of Islamic teaching with the prevention
of unwanted births," the journal states. At first, the crew managed
only to enlist the cooperation of a single imam. The article reveals
that in June of 1990, this imam was taken to the initial "project
area" for the express purpose of holding meetings with other religious
authorities. Acting on behalf of his foreign handlers, he "emphasized
the sizable maternal and child health problems in Gambia, and attempted
to dispel misconceptions about contraceptive methods, point out
ways in which Islam supports the use of family planning, and seek
the imams' participation in similar meetings in their villages,"
says the journal.
with the help of that first collaborator, the family planning promoters
were able to convince a total of 22 imams to take part in the indoctrination
process. As the journal adds, "Many said they had not been aware
that family planning and Islamic teachings were compatible."
the fall of 1990 and late summer 1991, a series of public meetings
took place in 26 villages throughout Gambia. The International Family
Planning Perspectives report includes a detailed description of
were conducted by family planning motivators, two imams and an Islamic
singer and drummer. At 4:30 p.m. on the day of the meeting, music
called villagers to the site. The proceedings began with a prayer.
The local imam then discussed Islam and family planning, backing
up his argument -- that family planning benefits maternal and child
welfare and brings husbands and wives closer -- with quotes from
the Quran. After the national imam was introduced, he preached his
support for family planning. SCF staff spoke about the benefits
of their program; Department of Health and Gambia Family Planning
Association staff discussed specific methods (although no particular
method was emphasized) and how to obtain them in the village, and
questions were asked by the audience."
to the publication, the campaign was accompanied by sophisticated
research to evaluate changes in belief as a result of the "imam
project." Surveys were done in several villages after the first
round of meetings, three months after the start of the project,
and again at its conclusion. Similar studies were done in villages
not involved in the scheme. The findings, according to the family
planning journal, revealed that the project had indeed produced
a profound change in thinking, as well as a "large increase" in
acceptance of modern birth control methods.
project organizers acknowledge that they encountered significant
obstacles in implementing the plan. "The main source of difficulty
the project coordinators faced," the report advises, "was convincing
religious leaders to participate." Indeed, it adds, the program
appears to have succeeded only because of some younger imams who
had undergone prior orientation at western-funded institutions.
Says the Population Council's Tapsoba, "Some of them are young people
who went to study in Cairo. These people are more open to this kind
STRUCTURES AND POPULATION CHANGE: WHY THE WEST WORRIES
task of reversing the opinions of religious leaders such as those
in Egypt, Nigeria, Gambia, and Indonesia is by no means simple.
As the situations in these countries demonstrate, it must be done
cautiously, slowly, and very, very carefully. One mis-step, as occurred
in Nigeria, can bring about enormous protest and set project efforts
back by countless years.
influence campaigns are also extremely costly. Not only must extensive
research be before deciding the content and context of messages,
but host country collaborators must be recruited, educated, and
employed in such a way that their links to outsiders are never even
suspected. The establishment of "local agency" groups and the concealment
of funding sources can also be a complicated and expensive process.
the magnitude of these operations and the amount of time invested,
one can imagine that population control is an issue of the highest
importance to policy-makers in Washington. Their concern, in fact,
is somewhat self-evident.
the past several decades, political scientists, economists, and
security planners, have foreseen a situation in which the influence
of Europe and the United States will decline relative to the rest
of the world. Invariably, these opinions have been based on projections
about global population change.
population of the United States, for example, dropped from 6 percent
of the world's people in 1950 to just 5 percent in 1988; it is projected
to fall to 4 percent in the early years of the twenty-first century
-- and to begin declining in terms of actual numbers before the
predictions are made about Europe, which claimed over 15 percent
of the Earth's total inhabitants in 1950, but barely 10 percent
in 1985. Indeed, Europe is expected to have fewer than 7 percent
of the earth's people in the year 2025. By the end of the 21st century,
it is anticipated that the people of today's developing nations
will outnumber those of the present-day industrialized world by
a ratio of 18 to 1.
relative demographic decline of the West is partly the result of
birthrates lower than any ever recorded in all of world history.
And it is partly the outcome of comparatively high fertility in
the rest of the world.
demographic consequences seem possible as a result of low fertility,"
says Jean Bourgeois-Pichat of the International Committee for Cooperation
in National Demographic Research (CICRED) in Paris. "The fate of
the human species or at least of certain national populations is
at stake in this process."
Lellouche, who served as an aide to French President Jacques Chirac
as Paris mayor, envisions in an article published by Foreign Affairs
a demographic vacuum in Europe ready to be filled by immigrants
from North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia: "The African population
is projected to triple within the next 30 years, reaching an estimated
level of 1.6 billion. Moreover, the Middle East, Central Asia, and
the Indian subcontinent all have volatile admixtures of acute poverty,
demographic explosion, and political instability. Together these
regions will have some 4 billion people within 30 years, while due
north sit 500 million aging Europeans already in a squall of demographic
demographer Jean-Claude Chesnais of the National Institute for Demographic
Studies in Paris echoes the warning: "Europe faces an Islamization
or Africanization as the demographic and economic gap between the
two banks of the Mediterranean Sea widens and people move from south
to north," he writes in the American Enterprise, a right-wing U.S.
journal. "This gap is the greatest ever seen in the history of mankind,
and it has serious social and political implications."
Phyllis T. Piotrow, the chief of the Johns Hopkins University's
USAID-funded population communication project, cautions in a 1978
publication of the Council on Foreign Relations: "when groups experience
different fertility rates, the group with the highest per capita
income and the greatest economic power is always the group with
the lowest fertility. In these circumstances, population growth
represents a threat to the status quo: to political dominance and
economic and social stability."
officials take the situation at least as seriously. "If these trends
continue for another generation or two," advises a report prepared
for the U.S. Army Conference on Long-Range Planning in 1991, "the
implications for the international political order and the balance
of world power could be enormous."
to say, the Muslim world is the primary focal point for the demographic
fears of the west. Not only does Islam present a movement that is
at odds with western ideology and interests -- it also sets up an
obstacle to the promotion of aggressive "family planning" activities
that could halt or even reverse present trends.
culture has been described as conducive to the highest fertility
rates in the world," says a blunt appraisal of "family planning"
activities and their potential for curbing population growth, prepared
nearly a quarter-century ago for the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development (OECD).
are almost a billion reasons to suggest that Muslim influence will
grow," writes political columnist Ben Wattenberg in a 1991 book,
The First Universal Nation. "By far, the Islamic nations are the
world's fastest-growing. The number of children born per woman is
1.7 in modern developed nations, 2.1 in Soviet bloc countries, and
4.5 in non-Islamic less-developed countries. In the Islamic nations
the rate is 6.0." Wattenberg adds that the total Muslim population
of the world was just 375 million in 1950, but that it is likely
to reach 2 billion just 20 years into the next century.
the American point of view, nothing less is at stake than control
over the economic infrastructure of the world, its political institutions,
its armies, and the abundant natural minerals and energy fuels found
mainly in the southern hemisphere. With the stakes this high, it
is sure that western nations will do anything necessary to escalate
their campaign of depopulation in the developing world.
CENTURY OF SPECULATION ABOUT FERTILITY TRENDS
concern about global population change is far from new. In fact,
it has been recognized by scholars on both sides of the globe as
far back as the very early years of the 20th century. In 1907, for
instance, Egyptian author Yahya Siddyk issued a challenge to a European
colonial establishment that had "conquered by the force of the cannon,"
but faced decline as a result of "hyper-extension." The rise of
Islam, wrote Siddyk, "is a portentous fact, for its numerical strength
is very great." And he predicted "a revolution without parallel
in the world's annals." This threat to the colonial order was duly
noted by author Lothrop Stoddard in a 1922 book named The Rising
Tide of Colour Against White World-Supremacy.
in 1929, British philosopher Bertrand Russell commented: "It cannot
be expected that the most powerful military nations will sit still
while other nations reverse the balance of power by the mere process
the time the United Nations was born in 1945, the anxiety over fertility
differentials between the rich and poor nations had reached fever
pitch. Indeed, a history of the U.N.'s population work notes that
in 1946, a Royal Commission on Population had publicly declared
that "the decline of the population of the West in relation to that
of Asia 'might be decisive in its effects on the prestige and influence
of the West.... The question is not merely one of military strength
and security: It merges into more fundamental issues of the maintenance
and extension of western views and culture.'"
it was the British and the Americans who led the fight to include
a Population Commission under the umbrella of the U.N. Economic
and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Population Commission, in turn,
became administratively linked to the General Assembly through the
Population Division, which was headed by an American, Dr. Frank
Notestein, formerly the director of the Princeton Office of Population
possessed more than a passing familiarity with the western interest
in population control. Indeed, he was one of the west's most influential
thinkers. At an April 1944 conference sponsored by the Milbank Memorial
Fund in New York, Notestein argued forcefully against a program
of economic and industrial development in the Southern Hemisphere
in the absence of accompanying policies of fertility control.
a program," said Notestein, "would yield populations that would
be larger and stronger than those that would arise from the perpetuation
of past policies. By launching a program of modernization the now
dominant powers would in effect be creating a future world in which
their own peoples would become progressively smaller minorities,
and possess a progressively smaller proportion of the world's wealth
and power. The determination of national policy toward the undeveloped
regions must be made in the light of that fact."
the beginning, western leaders were fully conscious of the sensitivity
of the birth control issue. A documented history of the population
control program in China, prepared by the U.S. government-funded
East-West Communication Institute in Honolulu, describes early rejection
of birth control by Mao Zedong. On Sept. 16, 1949, two weeks before
launching the People's Republic, Mao announced his official view
that China's large population "is a very good thing." He specifically
attacked western proposals to introduce birth control as "a means
of killing the Chinese people without shedding blood," and predicted
a future nation "where life will be abundant and culture will flourish."
Chairman Mao's remarks not only illustrate an opinion common to
virtually all "third world" leaders at the time, but also demonstrate
the presence of overtures from the West to curb Asian fertility
in the period immediately following World War II.
evidence of attempts to introduce birth control appears in a text
written by noted French demographer Alfred Sauvy in the 1940s: "It
creates a very disagreeable impression to see people who are white,
European, or of European origin, trying to sow the seeds of sterility
in populations that are about to escape from under their domination,"
some means would have to be found to overcome the hostility that
existed in the developing world toward the imposition of population
control by rich countries. Toward this end, UN Population Division
chief Notestein proposed a double-edged strategy. First, he urged
the use of extensive propaganda for limiting births as part of a
broader "health" strategy, and, second, he recommended the recruitment
of a cadre of "native" elites who would adopt western views as their
own and help to influence domestic policy.
is important that specific and widespread propaganda be directed
to developing an interest in the health and welfare of children
rather than in large families for their own sake," Notestein insisted
in his 1944 presentation to the Milbank Memorial Fund conference.
"Such education would also involve propaganda in favour of controlled
fertility as an integral part of a public health program." He added
that it will be necessary "to develop a native leadership that will
acquire new values rapidly and serve as a medium for their diffusion.
To this end native political leaders, civil servants, and native
middle classes are needed."
blueprint for bureaucratic interference and group penetration remains
to this day the backbone of U.N. population operations.
RETURN TO MILITANCY: FIGHTING BACK AGAINST THE ENEMIES OF ISLAM
are that open hostility toward western population activities is
growing around the world. In the summer of 1994, just before the
UN held its population conference in Cairo, a series of street demonstrations
forced Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to abandon her plans
to attend the controversial meeting. Similar grassroots protest
led Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller to follow suit. The boycott
quickly grew to include Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Lebanon.
intellectual awareness is likewise on the increase. "No good Muslim
will ever accept any human directive which contravenes the laws
of Allah," begins a pamphlet published in response to the national
population control program adopted by the Nigerian military government
in 1988. The writer, Alhaji Usman Faruk, one-time governor of North
Western State (now divided into Sokoto and Niger states), is a highly
respected religious leader.
to Faruk, the new population policy is certain to "lead the entire
country into unpardonable regret." Discussing the divinely ordained
balance between male and female and between human numbers and resources,
he adds, that those who support anti-natalist programmes fail to
take into consideration the resources that are made available to
righteous people as a result of divine providence. "But God, on
the other hand, being the Creator of all and Master of all, cannot
be said to be taken unawares of certain developments," says Faruk.
"In other words, the Islamic stand is that whatever our numbers
are, it is easy for Allah to provide for all in His own Divine way."
presents the example of Saudi Arabia, whose economy at one time
depended on meagre funds derived from pilgrimages and local trade.
"However, when the population of Saudi Arabia started growing rapidly
so as to outpace the available food, God, in His usual mercy and
mysterious ways, caused the discovery of petrol -- in such quantity
that has made it possible to support a population more than a hundred
times the past population of Saudi Arabia."
booklet also foresees devastating implications for morality and
family life, leading Muslim societies to imitate "the cursed and
debased societies of Europe and America." The widespread promotion
of anti-pregnancy drugs and devices, Faruk adds, will lead to "an
earthquake of moral laxity."
author raises some pertinent points for leaders of countries tempted
to cave into external pressures for family planning. The government,
he insists, does not own the Nigerian people and therefore "cannot
say they will reduce us or increase us like we are houses." Nor
has the national leadership even revealed "how many Nigerians she
wants to reduce even if Nigerians agree to be treated as sheep,"
Faruk writes. Furthermore, the country's rulers do not " know what
will be the balance of her citizens after it has effected the so-called
reduction" or "the extent of the country's resources" needed to
sustain the population.
Faruk is most adamant in his attacks on the West for its aggressive
pursuit of population control. He notes that similar programs in
Egypt led to the sterilization of both women and men, while, at
the same time, "the Europeans who were controlling and funding the
scheme ... handed over an opposite scheme for the Israelis," dispensing
propaganda and financial incentives to bring about higher birthrates
with the intent of seeing the Jewish population surpass that of
I have a strong suspicion that Nigeria's position within the African
continent has well qualified her for the same treachery hatched
and unleashed on Arabs 35 years ago." Faruk concludes: "One of the
measures to halt Nigeria's rise to super power level is therefore
through orchestrated family planning and birth control. Every known
trick and deceit has been wrapped up in the scheme."
more recent text, Islam and Child Spacing, by Ibrahim N. Sada, arrives
at the same conclusion. The author, who heads the Department of
Islamic Law at Ahmadu Bello University, explains the traditional
Muslim rejection of birth control in these words: "Islam is regarded
by the Muslim as a natural way of life. All its rules for the individual
as well as for the general public are based on the fundamental principle
that man should behave and act in consonance with the natural laws
working in the universe and that he must refrain from any course
of life that may force him to deviate from the purpose for which
Allah created him."
"the greatest reward Allah gives a person for his commitment to
God, right in this world, is to give him various children. If one
were to look at all the famous and known families in this country,
it will be found that they are strong and famous not on account
of their money or power but on account of their large number. If
this is true of individual families, what more of a nation? This
is why the Prophet clearly stressed that Muslims should marry and
generate for He will be proud of their large number in the last
Faruk, Sada raises questions about the motives and morals of foreign
peoples who propose birth control for the Islamic world. The booklet
includes several quotes from early twentieth-century authors in
the west who feared the rise of the dark races as the fertility
of Europeans began its downward trend, and it contends that Islam
is entirely incompatible with the western lifestyle.
commentary ends with a plea to Nigerians: "We must use all available
means to fight the trend if only to save our country from imperialist
machinations to destroy it.... We must be left alone to decide our
own interests and shape our destiny in line with our socio-cultural
and religious values."
among scholars is widespread. "Artificial birth control is rebellion
against the law of nature," said Dr. Aliu O. Akano of the Islamic
Medical Association at a conference on population control held in
1992 at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. "It is against the
very nature of man to interfere with procreation. Therefore, what
needs to be changed is not the natural mode of behaviour but man's
whims and tendencies which induce him to resort to easy courses
and a life of pleasure without responsibility. To do otherwise is
a sure way to destruction."
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