Are you afraid of Muslims

Secular and ex-Muslims in GermanyHostile to orthodox believers

At an event of the women's rights organization "Terre des femmes" in Berlin. Activists with a Muslim migration background sit on the podium. The native Iranian Mina Ahadi is speaking at the moment. Ten years ago she founded the Central Council of Ex-Muslims. Because, as she says:

"I founded the organization because I don't want reactionary misogynist organizations and men to speak on my behalf in Germany."

Ahadi means in particular the Turkish Islamic Association Ditib: The largest association in Germany with 900 mosque communities has spied on people of Turkish origin here on behalf of the Erdogan government. In addition, the Islamic Council, of which Milli Görüs is a member, among others. As well as the Central Council of Muslims, whose member association Islamic Community in Germany is considered to be an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood by the protection of the constitution. Despite all of this, these associations were once again sitting at the same table with the ministers of the German government at the 2017 Islam Conference - as the official representatives of the four million Muslims in the country.

"What problem are we talking about? Politics has to be made by parties, not religious organizations."

Fear of reprisals

The Central Council of Ex-Muslims, chaired by Mina Ahadi, sees itself as a gathering place for people who have given up the Muslim faith and, as it says on the homepage, "other non-religious people" from the Muslim culture area. The association has 800 members in Germany alone. There are branches in France, Great Britain and Morocco. A Central Council of Ex-Muslims Saudi Arabia was founded in the United States three months ago. Unlike Mina Ahadi, most members want to remain anonymous. Out of fear. Because according to the generally accepted Islamic legal conception, falling away from Islam is punishable by death. Even in Germany, Mina Ahadi has to fear for her life as a result.

"I've already received a lot of hate emails. They wrote exactly how I want to kill you, so in detail. Maybe a car accident on the street, maybe we'll shoot you in the back of your head. They sometimes have in." social media: 'Mina Ahadi is the first woman in Germany, we will stone her.' Because I fought stoning too. "

Samuel Schirmbeck can understand this very well. The former North Africa correspondent witnessed the creeping radicalization in Algeria. When he got there in 1990 on behalf of ARD, the beaches were full of women in bathing suits and the country was full of hope for democracy. But the underground movement "Armed Islamic Group" put an end to both. The Islamists threatened allegedly "unbelievers" with death. Samuel Schirmbeck stayed and learned to live with latent fear. It just fell away from him, says the journalist, when he occasionally flew to Frankfurt for a few days to meet.

"And that's when I realized what it was worth: a public space in which you don't have to fear religious insanity. In other words, in which you can step outside the front door without being afraid that someone will cause you to be an 'unbeliever 'is, gives a head shot. And then I got a terrible shock: "What if the' Allah Zone 'actually expanded and came to Europe? And you no longer have that feeling of security. Yes, voilà! "

"It can already be observed here in Western Europe: demand for prayer rooms outside of mosques, in schools, in companies, at the university; protest prayers in the open air if the demand is not given; women refuse to shake hands because they are" unclean "Are. Fear of a wrong word about the prophet, which could have bad consequences: This is how it started in North Africa," writes Samuel Schirmbeck in his book "The Islamic Crusade and the perplexed West", published last October by a Swiss publisher appeared. His long stay in Arab countries gradually made him a critic of Islam. Mina Ahadi, who fled her native Iran after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, can underline every word:

"We were dealing with a political movement in our countries - and now this movement is also active in European countries - with terror, with headscarves. For example, girls on the street are attacked. Or:" Sister, see you Muslim ? Why don't you have a headscarf? "

"Everyone there hated me because I didn't rush along"

The 16-year-old blogger Sabrina was often criticized and insulted by users on the Internet because she is committed to a liberal Islam. (AFP / Robyn Beck)

The young Sabrina, the daughter of an Algerian and a German, has been wearing a headscarf since she was 14 - of her own free will, she emphasizes. However, she also ran into problems when, at the age of 16, she came across a chat forum on the Internet that called itself "Islam will win, the caliphate will come".

"And of course all the Muslims there, the extremists, as they said: 'Yes, we will cut you all open!' That was totally alien to me. And everyone there hated me because I didn't rush with them. I called for what they do is wrong. Why there are people who belong to my faith and who fabricate something like that, I really didn't understand that. "

"This political, radical Islam, which we call Islamism, arose from Islam itself. And today it is the rule in the main country of Islam, in Saudi Arabia, and from there it is being spread all over the world with billions of dollars. And to that extent has this terrible Allah zone, this Islam of violence, which is always denied here by the left and so on, has long since established itself here, "says Samuel Schirmbeck, who in his book calls for an open and self-critical discussion of Islam . For the author, violent Islamism clearly has to do with Islam. Sabrina, the young Muslim woman, agrees:

"The extremists use the same sources as I do - they just interpret them differently. Their legitimacy to marry children, to beat women, they all take from Islamic sources."

In 2014 the Berlin imam Abdel Kamouss caused a sensation with his appearance on the political talk show "Günther Jauch". Kamouss taught in the Al-Nur Mosque in Neukölln for some time. (imago)

September 2014: The appearance of Imam Abdel Adhim Kamouss on Günter Jauch's talk show causes a stir. The native Moroccan came to Berlin twenty years ago to study electrical engineering at the Technical University. On the talk show, he turned all the other guests, including the talk master, against himself because he talked way too much for them. German media then gave Kamouss the nickname "Quassel-Imam". Muslim preachers like Ahmad Abul Barraa vehemently attacked him:

"You can call this person by name. His name is Abdel Adhim. May Allah ... He is a person who plays with religion and deceives Muslims."

For 14 years, Abdel Adhim Kamouss gave "Sunday lessons" in the Al-Nur mosque in Berlin-Neukölln, which was monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. The man in his mid-thirties was particularly popular with young people. Since many of his young German supporters converted, some of the media saw him as a "Muslim maker". According to a report in the Berliner Morgenpost, the management of the Al-Nur mosque was annoyed by the media hype after the Jauch-Talk and asked Kamouss to refrain from such appearances.

Kamouss himself speaks of a general media ban that he did not want to obey. In any case, the collaboration with the Al-Nur Mosque has ended since then. He is also no longer allowed to preach in any other mosque in Berlin, says the honorary imam, because the board members did not approve of his views.

"That I advised against, for example, women wearing face veils here in Germany. They don't like that. That I have always said that women and men can shake hands. And then I said: Everyone can believe, can refuse what and when he would. For me, according to my current thinking, everyone is a believer - just believes differently. "

An unavoidable discussion

"Requirement No. 1: Encourages free, independent reflection on Islam! Requirement No. 2: Proclaim that there is no difference between" believers "and" unbelievers "."

These are the two central demands in the book by the former North Africa correspondent Schirmbeck - addressed to the Islamic associations as well as to the 85 percent of non-organized Muslims in this country.

"Our politicians, they consider the Muslims here - and I find that basically racist - to be incapable of being able to endure an open discussion about the" cursed "side of Islam, as a Moroccan scholar calls it Fear that the peacefulness, which is also constantly emphasized, could diminish through an open discussion about Islam. "

Abdel Adhim Kamouss considers such a discussion to be inevitable if one wants to prevent further radicalization.

"Because for many years I have set up many information stands where I can communicate and talk to people. I heard people's fears for the first time. I began to see the danger of our discourse. What do I have Did you go wrong? "Hey your people, many of them have become radical, many of them later went to Syria. So that means you serve as a bridge, as a transit station for radicalization." For the first time, I'm taking this thing seriously. "

"Just when you say I don't hate people of other faiths - because of that alone they say: 'Ah yes, you are a' Euro-Muslim '!' And if I take a clear stand and also do not hate the Israelis and the Jews and do not criticize their right to exist, that is the reason that many Muslims immediately become insulting ",

tells Sabrina. The young Muslim woman, now 21 years old, blogged on Facebook for an enlightened Islam until recently - and experienced - as she says - her blue miracle every day. Instead of blogging, Sabrina is now volunteering for the Amadeu Antonio Foundation against Racism. In addition, according to her own statements, she applied for a position in an online federal project to deradicalize young Muslims. Abdel Adhim Kamouss also wants to focus his efforts on this in the future. The imam wants to set up his own foundation including a cultural center. The stated goal is - quote

"The promotion of inner-Islamic enlightenment, self-critical thinking and religious discourse in the sense of tolerance and respect for all religions, cultures and world views, as well as inner-Islamic deradicalization and prevention work."

Transparency against distrust

To avoid distrust, Kamouss wants to demonstrate transparency. For this purpose, the non-profit Maecenata Foundation will temporarily take over the trusteeship and an external service provider will manage the accounting. The current main sponsor is the Tunisian-born soccer player Änis Ben Hatira. Born in Berlin, he made headlines in January because he financially supported several water projects of the aid organization "Ansaar International" in Africa. The organization is classified as Salafist by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. Since Ben Hatira was not ready to distance himself from her, SV Darmstadt 98 separated from the player. Kamouss, who has known Ben Hatira personally for years, is clear that he inspires little trust with him as a sponsor. Kamouss calls his commitment to Ansaar International "rash".

"I gave him my opinion on it. But he acted like that. I accept and respect that. As I know him, he is a cosmopolitan, tolerant person. And so I hope that this will not burden us. But in the end the projects that we introduce, the quality of the projects that will speak. We will have nothing to do with Ansaar and similar organizations, no. "

He receives the receipt for his new course every day from extremist-minded Muslims, says Abdel Adhim Kamouss:

"I have received very direct threats by email, on Facebook, where I have been threatened with death, and that they will shut my mouth in a very specific way. And of course also with harassment that I have, in the end even in the street, until physical violence. "

"Unenlightened Islam must be confined to the mosques and remain a private matter outside the mosques. Inside the mosques it belongs to Germany, outside of it it does not. If necessary, the rights of the churches to which the Islamic associations refer to in order to be treated equally must be restricted."

So Samuel Schirmbeck in his book. He is not surprised that the Central Council of Jews recently spoke out against a headscarf ban in the public service and thus sided with the Islamic associations. Whatever differences the three major religions in Germany may have among one another - he believes that when the external insignia of their religious affiliation is attacked, they hold together. Especially since the other religions in secular Germany are also gaining ground again through the advance of Islam.

In contrast, Schirmbeck is really disappointed with the political left, which accuses any criticism of Islam with the accusation of racism and thus blocks the urgently needed discussion. Mina Ahadi can confirm that.

"The Left Party, for example, invited me once and then dumped me, with - was in 2016 - with this excuse: 'Mina Ahadi has a racist position'."

Ahadi still remembers exactly how the Greens Claudia Roth, Vice President of the Bundestag, traveled to Iran with a delegation in January 2015 and wore a headscarf there. Since US President Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia, a tweet that has been circulating on social media reminds us of this. Garnished with the hashtag # Claudia # Ivanka # women's rights and the text: "Show your attitude". Two photos: on one of the Trump daughter Ivanka next to the Saudi king - without a headscarf. On the other Claudia Roth next to an Iranian mullah - with a headscarf.

"That is this old Third World commitment of the left, yes. That they think there is an ontologically evil part of the world - that is the West with America. And then there is an ontological zone of innocence - that is the Third World. And Islam comes from the Third World - and that is why it should not be touched. "

Plea for a confident criticism of Islam

Schirmbeck is not alone with his criticism. The Turkish-born MP Erol Özkaraca left the Berlin SPD in March. Out of protest. Because the governing mayor, a party colleague, took part in a rally with Islamic associations that are attributed to the Muslim Brotherhood by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution. And all this on Breitscheidplatz - the site of the Islamist terrorist attack in December. Özkaraca had previously repeatedly criticized Michael Müller's too lax approach to political Islam. Mina Ahadi:

"You cannot stay with this hope, you can reform Islam or do everything with educational work. We are talking about a political movement that is very aggressive. And you have to actively give an answer in politics."

Samuel Schirmbeck advocates a self-confident criticism of Islam - both within the Muslim communities and in the German majority society.

"People who are critical of Islam are not Islamophobic: they are just violence -ophobic, intolerantophobic, they are homophobophobic. They reject what is all too familiar about Islam, which we also had: misogyny, intolerance in the name of a worldview. And we have finally parted with it with the greatest effort - and now the people don't want it to come back into the country under the guise of religion. "

"We have fled from dictatorial governments, from Islamic regimes. And that is really a total humiliation when German politicians organize Islamic conferences with Islamic organizations and say we are talking about integration! We don't want to integrate Islam, we want to integrate people."

In September, secular Muslims from Germany, Austria and Switzerland jointly positioned themselves in the so-called "Freiburg Declaration" for a liberal understanding of Islam and against targeted disintegration. Samuel Schirmbeck is confident of this. This is also what the former ARD correspondent thinks he has learned in the ten years in North Africa:

"That the confrontation is not between Muslims here and Europeans there. Rather, there are like-minded people in the Muslim world and in the European one - and that they have to form an alliance against the others. I think that will happen sooner or later. "

Samuel Schirmbeck: "The Islamic Crusade and the perplexed West. Why we need a confident criticism of Islam",
Orell Füssli 2016, 19.95 euros.