European Armies Recruiting Muslim Soldiers

Germany is seeking to recruit more Muslims into its army: it cannot find enough native Germans to fill its ranks after it abolished the draft.

German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière announced his intention to “multiculturalize” the German Bundeswehr (Federal Defense Force) during a June 20 headhunting mission to the Turkish capital Ankara, where he declared: “I want the [German] army to be representative of a cross-section of the German population.”

Germany formally discontinued compulsory military service on July 1, 2011 as part of a comprehensive reform aimed at creating a smaller and more agile army of about 185,000 professional soldiers.

But during its first twelve months of existence, Germany’s new all-volunteer army has been unable to meet its recruiting goals, and military manpower prospects look dim for the foreseeable future.

In a desperate search for soldiers, German military officials have now identified Germany’s Muslim Turkish population (3.5 million and counting) as a new source for potential recruits.

Muslim immigrants now represent an estimated 15% of all French military personnel (exact figures are unavailable; French law prohibits collecting data on religious affiliation). In real terms, there are around 30,000 active duty Muslims out of a total of 220,000 military personnel in the French Armed Forces.

Much of the debate about the issue of Muslims serving in the French military has revolved around the hypothetical question of how to predict the loyalty of Muslim troops in cases where the French military is involved in armed conflict with Muslim countries.

The issue of troop loyalty was brought to the fore following the Muslim riots in the suburbs of Paris and other French cities in October and 2005. The riots affected 274 French towns and cities and caused more than €200 million in property damage – as rioters burned 8,973 vehicles and hundreds of buildings.

At the time, French authorities were concerned that the riots might expand into a nationwide uprising of Muslims throughout the country; they were trying to forecast the behavior of Muslim soldiers in the case that the French army would be called upon to restore order.

Some surveys of Muslim immigrants in French suburbs show that fewer than 10% of respondents consider themselves French and just 1% say they are willing to die for France.

Full article: European Armies Recruiting Muslim Soldiers (Gatestone Institute)