Why are Muslims not being reformed

Ahmad Mansour on Islam and Terror : Islam needs to reform

From the community

From "above" down has always only led to distancing and repression. "We" in the West can answer Muslims with a raised index finger: A revolution has to start internally. And anchor yourself there firmly so that no restoration follows.

... writes user Vale

A father learns that his son has committed mass murder in Orlando, Florida. He murdered 49 young people who did nothing more than celebrate. The 29-year-old son had obtained the ideology of radical Islamic groups via the Internet, soaked himself up with it and used it as a legitimizing drug for his assassination attempt. The father who immigrated to the USA from Afghanistan three decades ago knows that too. He knows that the young man has been questioned several times in recent years by the FBI on suspicion of terrorism and that the day before the crime he went to pray in the small community mosque.

The father's comment in TV interviews: his son was inconspicuous, the father financed his college, he got everything, had a job, and there was no sign of radical tendencies. The act of the son who died in the attack has nothing to do with Islam. The father is said to have sympathy for the Taliban himself in his country of origin.

Islamists in Germany post photos of the perpetrator on social media and the following sentences: “A mentally ill and gay man attacks a gay bar, and suddenly politicians and the media are talking about an Islamist attack. Either you have paranoid disorders or you are doing propaganda à la Goebbels. "

US politicians hardly dare to use the word "Islamist"

Many people speak like this again. In the US, politicians and the public are overly cautious about using even the word “Islamist”, with the exception of Donald Trump and his supporters who want to make political capital out of the crime.

It seems to be a knee-jerk reaction, wherever assassinations or even social problems arise in the context of extremist content related to Islam, to immediately pray the counter-mantra: It has nothing to do with Islam. Especially to the new right, AfD sympathizers and others, this will seem like a denial of reality, a cognitive dissonance, as we psychologists say. The perpetrators shouted "Allahu akbar" !? And that's supposed to have nothing to do with Islam? Are you trying to fool us?

The decoupling of the crime and the perpetrator's denomination should calm down, secure social peace, prevent general suspicion against all Muslims and much more. Nevertheless, this way of speaking ignores the central theme.

Because the assassins, whether they are narcissistically disturbed, bipolar, uprooted and hateful, uneducated or highly educated, whether they had no fathers or authoritarian fathers, refer to an extreme form of Islam. To what Salafists, Wahhabis, followers of the “Islamic State” or Al Qaeda say: to a strict interpretation of the Koran, according to which every letter is carved in stone. You will find misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism, rigid patterns for family and state - the opposite of an open, democratic society.

Controversial: Islam and sexuality

They are the extreme expression of something that has stagnated almost the entire Muslim world for centuries. What is preached in a backyard mosque in Neukölln or Wedding is often all too similar to the fundamentalist ideas of the assassins who murder in the name of Allah. One should therefore not put the Muslims under general suspicion. But criticize the stagnation of a way of thinking that understands every letter of the Koran as dictated by Allah and brutally slows down social progress, the acceptance of democracy and freedom, the equality of men and women, homosexuality.

Representatives of the Muslim associations repeatedly declare that current political Islam has nothing to do with our religion. They don't want to see, they don't want to know. This is a tragedy that cannot go on like this. Outdated ideologies that are derived from the belief in letters must be allowed to be questioned, also in order to end the terror.

After the Orlando Terror, there were reports that homophobia and restrictive sexual morals were alien to the early Islamic world. After the New Year's Eve in Cologne, experts spoke of the openness of Islam and how freely the prophet dealt with sexuality. The Münster-based Islamic scholar Thomas Bauer has researched that there are hardly any documents about stoning for adultery from the time of the classical Islamic era. In over a thousand years there have been "at most two, three, four testified cases" and not a single case of punishment for same-sex acts. The draconian punishments threatened in the Koran primarily had the character of warnings, not instructions, says Bauer.

But the freer the Western world, the more openly homosexuals live, the more threatening this becomes for the secret double life on sexual issues that many people in the Islamic world have tolerated until now. The facade was right, behind it some could do what they wanted. Now the facade is no longer right: All over the western world people are openly “sinned” and people celebrate it too! At the same time the West is economically superior to “us”, has exploited “us” colonial, is against our beliefs and our values. This is how a radical ideology from the Koran can be screwed together and turned into a weapon.

In Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and Iran, gays pay with their lives. They are pushed from the roofs of houses and hung on construction cranes. In all Muslim countries, homosexuals face enormous difficulties. Muslim youth in Germany have often openly insulted and attacked homosexuals. Many lesbian or gay adolescents leave their families, also in Europe, to seek protection elsewhere.

What role does homophobia play in the Orlando assassin?

Homophobia also appears to play a role in the Orlando act. It is possible that a homosexual perpetrator murdered out of fear and self-hatred, the IS provided him with a way out of shame and insecurity, with the act of a macho hero who kills for the superfather Allah. Making sexual issues taboo is a problem in all patriarchal societies, including Muslim ones.

Does all of this have "nothing to do with Islam"? When thousands of young Muslims in Europe shouted anti-Semitic slogans when they attacked synagogues and Jews during the Gaza War in 2014, this sentence was also used. In the media there was talk of the traditionally good connections between Muslims and Jews in the Near and Middle East and the Maghreb, of their common history, the similarity of languages ​​and religions. All of this is true, but it does not help in a present in which anti-Semitism is part of everyday life for around 90 percent of Muslims worldwide.

A connection between Islamist attacks directed against Jews, Americans, homosexuals, and “Islam” is further denied. It is often said that the perpetrators misunderstood Islam. But they only dipped what almost everyone around them said in the hot sauce of Salafism, made it more explosive, more destructive. After the mass murder in Orlando, people who otherwise oppose violence posted that “it hit the right people”.

Witch burnings had nothing to do with Catholicism?

If our society wants to deal with the problem of radicalized Islam in a more differentiated and cultivated manner, then it must deal with the problem of the reform backlog in “normal” Islam. It's about our coexistence in a democracy, about the fears and polarization that we are experiencing - see the successes of the AfD in Germany, the right-wing populists in Europe and the USA.

Can you say that the Crusades, the Inquisition, or the witch burnings had nothing to do with Catholicism? There were millions of peaceful Christians who rejected this excess! No, there were millions of Christians who lived in a society characterized by violence, patriarchy and an inhuman interpretation of the Bible. Christianity has for the most part freed itself from this. Islam, too, has to free itself from misunderstanding if it wants to appeal to a merciful Allah.

Muslims who try to protect Islam from discussion and criticism consider their religion to be weak. They fear debates because they could lead to the connection between the attacks in Paris, Brussels and Orlando and the widespread rigid, ahistorical understanding of Islam and the Koran. It doesn't help either if the reactionary assassins on the left spectrum are played down or glorified as fighters against imperialism and economic colonialism. This degrades Muslims to political cuddles of a misunderstood multiculturalism.

The idea that their religion is off-limits to criticism is widespread among Muslim youth. It emerged from a collective inferiority complex and is the by-product of centuries of oppression of the individual and his sexuality, his freedom. Self-development, critical questions, individuality hardly exist. At the same time, there was the experience of authoritarian forms of government, colonialism and racism as well as failed democratic and socialist experiments during the Cold War in the Muslim world. Religion now appears as the only strength, the inviolable basis for identity, meaning and "purity".

But religion can break due to rigid ideas. Strengthening one's own religion means, above all, facing up to the debate about sexuality, violence, upbringing, authority, homophobia, anti-Semitism. The realization must grow that reforms are needed worldwide in Islam so that it can participate in the open society of modernity. Nobody helps us who doesn't want to see that.

Ahmad Mansour, 39, is a psychologist and program director at the European Foundation for Democracy. Most recently he published the book “Generation Allah” (S. Fischer Verlag).

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