Minister warns of ‘inbred’ Muslims

Phil WoolasA government minister has warned that inbreeding among immigrants is causing a surge in birth defects – comments likely to spark a new row over the place of Muslims in British society. Phil Woolas, an environment minister, said the culture of arranged marriages between first cousins was the “elephant in the room”. Woolas, a former race relations minister, said: “If you have a child with your cousin the likelihood is there’ll be a genetic problem.”

Woolas was supported by Ann Cryer, Labour MP for Keighley, who called for the NHS to do more to warn parents of the dangers of inbreeding. “This is to do with a medieval culture where you keep wealth within the family,” she said. “I have encountered cases of blindness and deafness. There was one poor girl who had to have an oxygen tank on her back and breathe from a hole in the front of her neck. The parents were warned they should not have any more children. But when the husband returned again from Pakistan, within months they had another child with exactly the same condition.”

Sunday Times, 10 February 2008

In the Observer Jo Revill points out that “his claims don’t appear to be supported by medical evidence. The risk of a child having birth defects if the parents are cousins is double that of other children, which means the risk rises from about 3 per cent in the general population to about 6 per cent when there is consanguinity (when the parents are closely related).”