Quote: Islamophobia vs. just fear (2)
See the interview with René Danen, a Dutch anti-racism activist, for his answers to similar questions.
When Sokolowsky is asked about those Muslims who do dream of world domination, he admits that they do exist, but adds that there's never been a global Jewish conspiracy. His logic escapes me.
Leftists are finally being asked what is acceptable when it comes to criticizing Islam. It would be interesting to know which critics they actually approve of.
Media critic Kay Sokolowsky warns against the negative consequences of rising Islamophobia for the co-existence of Muslims and non-Muslims and calls for dialogue and education.
Q: In your new book Feindbild Moslem (Moslems: The Perceived Enemy), you analyse the growing Islamophobia in our society. Is this phenomenon just common xenophobia dressed up in anti-Muslim clothing or is it really a new xenophobic attitude directed exclusively at Muslims?
Kay Sokolowsky: The xenophobia on show here is nothing new. What is new are the seemingly enlightened reasons with which it adorns itself. This is a perfidious trick that initially makes it look as if the actions of the Muslim-haters have nothing to do with a hatred of foreigners.
Because it is not socially acceptable to stir up hatred against the "cumin Turks", the "camel drivers", or the "garlic eaters", the xenophobes use derogatory words such as "Mohammedan", "Moslem", or "cultural freeloader".
If those who are creating this image of the Muslim as the enemy really only wanted to warn against fanatical Islamists, they would not accuse all those with Turkish or Arab parents of being potential suicide bombers, "honour killers", or "pioneers of the Sharia" in Germany.
For those who are hostile towards Muslims, anyone with a Turkish or Arab surname is a murderous Islamist, regardless of whether he or she believes in Allah, the Easter Bunny or nothing at all. This generalisation is just pure racist ideology. It hasn't got the slightest thing to do with criticism in the actual and the positive sense; it has much more to do with the evil desire to defame, exclude and sow fear and hate.
Q: Is the Islamophobia you are describing comparable to the anti-Semitism of the past?
Sokolowsky: Yes. The patterns and the themes of the agitation are the same, right down to the smallest detail. The Muslim-haters accuse their enemy of a global conspiracy, the goal of which is to bring all people under the thumb of Islam. They call the Muslims that live in our society "foreign bodies" and "parasites"; they accuse them of incessant lies and of shamelessly enriching themselves at the expense of the "autochthon" population. They never tire of bleating that the Muslim culture and religion is completely incompatible with "our Western values".
Many of those who are hostile towards Muslims now openly use the term "Blutschande" (blood shame) when talking about sexual relations between "Christians" and "Muslims". Increasingly, animal slaughter methods, which were a central theme in the Nazis' anti-Semitic propaganda, are held up as "evidence" of the apparent cruelty and primitiveness of Muslims.
At the very latest, the structural similarities between the hatred of Muslims and the hatred of Jews becomes clear when one reminds those who are hostile towards Muslims of where the systematic defamation of a minority in Germany once led: their masks slip, they begin to shriek that they are wrongly being branded as Nazis, and then openly deny that the Holocaust ever happened.
Q: But you must admit that there are Islamists and holy warriors that dream of world domination…
Sokolowsky: Yes, there are Muslims who dream of world domination and would like to spread a little joy with their Islamist ideology – by force, if necessary. There has, on the other hand, never been a global Jewish conspiracy.
However, the Muslims who dream of world domination are a minority and their influence stems solely from their uncompromising and extremely brutal fanaticism. Anyone who ignores this, is no different from those who believe that the "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" are authentic.
Q: In your opinion, what is the difference between legitimate criticism of Islam and open hostility to Islam?
Sokolowsky: It is legitimate to contradict those who preach hatred and to insist on the strict separation of religion and state, perhaps the most important achievement of the French Revolution. It is also legitimate to outlaw inhuman practices such as enforced marriages, the oppression of women, or the persecution of people of a different faith, and to dismiss these practices as being pre-enlightenment in character.
But as is the case with all criticism, four rules should be obeyed: avoid generalisations, respect human dignity, respond to fanaticism with reason, and refute speculation with facts. Those who are hostile towards Islam disregard these rules completely. They disguise their racism by wrapping it in a cloak of Islamic criticism.
But you only have to lift a corner just a little to see that the Muslim-haters are not criticising, but discriminating; they don't care one bit about the reality of Islam because they only believe in their nightmarish fantasies; every nasty rumour about Muslims is immediately believed; every good news is either ignored or ridiculed as a "lie spread by bleeding heart liberals".
Q: At what point does the legitimate criticism of Islamist ideology become direct hostility towards Islam? Where should the line be drawn?
Sokolowsky: As soon as the fear of the foreigner, the stranger, begins to colour our attitudes towards others, legitimate criticism of Islamic ideology quickly turns into open animosity. A good, yet particularly distressing illustration of this is the journalist Ralph Giordano. Ever since he discovered the existence of militant Islamists a few years ago, this anti-racist par excellence has become increasingly entangled in racist patterns of thought and speech.
Unfortunately, in his fear of Islam, he does not notice the incredible damage being done by his polemics and that he is accelerating the marginalisation of Muslims in our society faster than all the headscarf-wearers in the country could ever do. After all, the great Giordano, the figurehead, is a gift for those who adhere to the ideology of hating Islam.
Source: Qantara (English)