Monday, 30 May 2011
The geneticist said that it was common in the Islamic world for men to marry their nieces and cousins.

He said that Bradford has a particular problem and warned that it could affect the health of children born into these marriages.

Prof Jones, who lectures at University College London, is likely to find himself at the centre of controversy in the wake of the comments.

Similar remarks made by Phil Woolas, a Labour environment minister, in 2008 resulted in calls for him to be sacked from the government.

Prof Jones, who writes for the Telegraph’s science pages, told an audience at the Hay Festival: “There may be some evidence that cousins marrying one another can be harmful.

“It is common in the Islamic world to marry your brother’s daughter, which is actually closer than marrying your cousin.

“We should be concerned about that as there can be a lot of hidden genetic damage. Children are much more likely to get two copies of a damaged gene.”

He added: “Bradford is very inbred. There is a huge amount of cousins marrying each other there.” Research in Bradford has found that babies born to Pakistani women are twice as likely to die in their first year as babies born to white mothers, with genetic problems linked to inbreeding identified as a “significant” cause.

Studies have found that within the city, more than 70 per cent of marriages are between relations, with more than half involving first cousins.

Separate studies have found that while British Pakistanis make up three per cent of all births, they account for one in three British children born with genetic illnesses. Prof Jones also said that incest was more common than is often realised in every part of society, adding that it had been particular prevalent among royalty and suggested it is still ­continuing.

Source

For perspective, Jones is one of the bien-pensant scientists who signed a letter of protest against the Pope's visit last year. He also had this to say about "islamophobia" and racism:

On the BBC World Service, Professor Jones declared that “races are really in the eye of the beholder” and not necessarily a biological reality. As a result, the term Islamophobia suggests that the trait held in common by the people deserving discrimination and exclusion is their religious affiliation rather than their skin color or physiology, and thus we could term Islamophobia a clear form of “cultural racism.”

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