Former German politician turned Bundesbanker Thilo Sarrazin (G) gets a lot of flak lately. Among other things unpalatable to sensitive minders of other folk’s business, he allegedly supports eugenics and openly criticises consanguineous marriages among Muslim immigrants, as that would strain the health system excessively. While that is a scandal among the wardens of public discourse, no such qualms in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Reports The National:
screening urged to avoid risks of consanguinous unions–Recent talk about the regulation of Emirati marriages could have positive health implications for future generations.
At a majlis on Sunday evening, religious and community leaders discussed the idea of regulating marriages. Among the proposed regulations was the idea of screening couples for hereditary diseases. However, proposed restrictions for Emiratis marrying foreigners could also limit the gene pool.
The Ministry of Health rates genetic diseases as the fourth-highest cause of death in the country. There are 270 kinds in the UAE alone. About 60 per cent of those, including sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia, are recessive disorders that can be caused by consanguinity.
overall more than 50 per cent of the population is believed to marry their first cousins, which, said Dr al Gazali, doubles the chance of birth defects.
Beware, the UAE’s National not only reports on domestic breeding and inbreeding, it mentions the wonders of brotherly love in Sudan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia as well, seemingly without any fear of dropping bricks into foreign sensibilities, or having fatwas issued on claims of culturalism, racism, or Islamophobia by sundry fundamentalists oriental and occidental. Maybe we should trade in the Bundestag for a good old-fashioned majlis to ensure common sense and rational discourse.
Meanwhile, Medics in Turkey don’t see any problems in dealing with the obvious:
Clinical outcomes of consanguineous marriages in Turkey.
Tuncbilek E , Turk J Pediatr 2001 Oct-Dec;43(4):277-9
Department of Pediatrics, Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey.
Turkey has a high rate of consanguineous marriages. Different nationwide surveys indicate that today 20-25% of marriages are consanguineous, with the rate having increased over the last 15 years. The results of many studies show that the rate of consanguinity among parents of children with rare recessive diseases is quite above Turkey’s average and that the high consanguinity rate is one of the underlying factors of high infant and child mortality and fertility in Turkey
The frequency of consanguinity in Konya, Turkey, and its medical effects
Demirel S; Kaplanoglu N; Acar A; Bodur S; Paydak F , Genet Couns 1997;8(4):295-301
Department of Medical Biology, Faculty of Medicine, Selcuk University, Konya, Turkey.
This study was conducted in the town of Konya, Turkey, on 1120 randomly selected women to find out the overall rate of consanguineous marriages among couples. The frequency of consanguineous marriages was found to be 23.2%. It was found that 14.6% of this figure was first cousin marriages and the rest was 8.6%. Consanguineous marriages were higher among women born in villages compared to those born in provinces and the town center. Based on the findings, it was not too difficult to say: the higher the level of education of women, the lower the rate of consanguineous marriages. The number of children with an abnormality was high in consanguineous marriages, while the frequency of spontaneous abortion, still-birth and infant death remained the same.
For those not in the know, Konya is Turkey’s center of Sunni religiosity and political conservatism. Yet, even its researchers don’t seem to get stoned while being frank. To be fair, their tone on this matter is neutral, while Mr Sarrazin’s is not. Hang him higher.
Nirupama Agrawal, S. N. Sinha; Department of Psychology, University of Rjasthan, Jaipur, India, and Arthur R. Jensen; School of Education, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720
Indian Muslim school boys, ages 13 to 15 years, whose parents are first cousins, were compared with classmates whose parents are genitically unrelated on the Raven Standard Progressive Matrices, a nonverbal test of intelligence. The inbred group (N=86) scored significantly lower and had significantly greater variance than the noninbred group (N=100), both on raw scores and on scores statistically adjusted to control for age and socioeconomic status. Genetic theory predicts both of these effects for a polygenic trait with positive directional dominance.