Note: the Arabic text was added to the above screen shot, and is not part of the original.
The following article from blu-News expresses a dissenting opinion about what happened to Politically Incorrect and Die Freiheit in Bavaria last week. Last year a group of former Freiheit members who left the party over what they considered the extreme position held by some of their fellow members. These dissenters — who consider themselves more “mainstream” than Michael Stürzenberger and his allies who remained in the party — view the actions of the Bavarian interior minister as an unfortunate but inevitable consequences of the extreme stance taken by PI Bavaria and Die Freiheit.
JLH, who translated the article, provides some background on the issues:
This is the “other side” of the story presented in the article and the video about the addition of PI and Die Freiheit to the security watch-list in Bavaria and the simultaneous, unexplained departure of Imam Idriz.
This editorial from blu-News is no doubt by Marco Pino — erstwhile colleague of Michael Stürzenberger — who was a sort of spokesman for all those who were leaving the young political party. He also departed PI to become the co-founder of blu-News. “Blu” stands for bürgerlich [middle class/civic], liberal and unabhängig [independent].
It is not clear to me how far back the clash between the two of them goes, nor whether it is purely political or to some extent a clash of very different personalities. It seems clear that Pinot and his allies had an agenda that emphasized the disastrous euro and the slavish relationship to the EU. Stürzenberger, on the other hand, is “focused like a laser” on Islamization.
Pino’s criticism of Stadtkewitz’s reaction to Stürzenberger’s “Position Paper against Muslims” may be a fair complaint, but it ignores what we learned about Stadtkewitz and his exit from the CDU. He first became noticeable outside of Berlin when his party superiors forbade him to organize a forum on Islam, and threatened to expel him. His reply, essentially, was “Go ahead.” And they backed down that time. To understand Stadtkewitz, you also must know that he had vigorously opposed the building of a mosque in his district and that (the suggestion of a connection is purely mine) his house had been burned out.
By video, I have heard a number of the prominent opponents of Islamization, ranging from academic/objective to vigorous and advocative. There is no one who can touch Stürzenberger’s passion. His extemporaneous confrontations with challengers at the information stand in Munich are a verbal rendition of a Clint Eastwood western. His formal speeches overflow with passion and charisma. He is a love-him or hate-him kind of speaker.
The AfD — already covered in GoV — is being founded by an economist whose first concern is the euro and its effect on Germany. There is no indication thus far that they will be at all concerned with Islamization.
All this is just by way of background. I will resist the temptation to draw parallels with US politics — others can do that better than I could.
The translated article from blu-News:
I Told You So!
April 12, 2013
by the Frankfurt Lip
A Black Day for Islam Critique
PI Munich and Die Freiheit in Bavaria will henceforth be under security surveillance. However easy it is to suspect that the strategic interests of the major parties played a role here, it would be false to see it as the only reason. In the name of all those who left Die Freiheit at the end of 2011 — I told you so! But don’t worry. No uninhibited happiness here, The damage from this is too great.
Today is a black day for Islam-criticism. As blu-News reported, PI Munich and the Bavarian segment of Die Freiheit will henceforth be under surveillance by the security service. That is the most recent result of a public relations debacle called “Position Paper against Islamization” from the pen of the chair of Bavarian Freiheit and PI author, Michael Stürzenberger.
“Sweeping Condemnation of Muslims”
Some of those affected by this may say that the security measure is an accessory to the major parties in Bavaria, which in particular are feeling pressure from the activities of Freiheit. This small party is presently at its ease collecting signatures against the ZIE-M, and in the city hall it is recognized that the necessary 30,000 signatures for a citizens’ initiative will be achieved sooner or later. It is certainly helpful if the party which is the source of this initiative is being surveilled by security. So much better to force them into the extremist corner. That makes the collection of signatures more difficult and makes it easier for the major parties if it does come to a referendum. The local media have already grabbed the ball and started running.
When suddenly the radical Islamic preacher and initiator of the ZIE-M, Imam Bajrambenjamin Idriz, has disappeared from the security report, even though just last year new, unequivocal information about his resumé came to light, it is obvious that not just objective judgments are in play here. In this case, the methods of security agents is grist for the mill of those who would like to whitewash the political face of Islam and demonize any form of criticism of Islam as political extremism. As I said: a black day for criticism of Islam.
However easy it may be to suspect that the strategic interests of the major parties have played a role in this, it would be wrong to see that as the only basis for the surveillance. If the agents of the security agency were really only the willing servants of the major parties, then they would have long ago aimed a haymaker at the unlikable Islam critics, and not only in Bavaria. In fact, what interests the authorities is not PI as a whole or Islam criticism in general, but specifically those two Munich groups headed by Michael Stürzenberger. And security agents cannot act with no basis. The fact is that Stürzenberger has provided the source with his research paper. When Bavaria’s interior minister determines that Stürzenberger has formulated “general condemnation of Muslims” in it (and in its consequences), it is difficult if not impossible to contradict.
The Pro Movement 2.0
At the time, Stürzenberger split the young Freiheit party with his position paper. Putting this hard-to-swallow pamphlet on the internet without consulting friends in the party, he demanded unconditional allegiance. And party chief René Stadtkewitz defended this behavior with phrases like: “Surely, you are still allowed to say that!” So you cannot wonder at the consequences.
I tried myself at the time, with a much misunderstood open letter, to wake Stürzenberger up and dissuade him of his “demonic theses.” Without success, as insiders know. And the end of the story is well-known. At the party’s national meeting at the end of 2011, the disagreement escalated, numerous members left the party, including Christian Jung and myself. Previously, we had been accused of wanting to change the party into a “CDU 2.0.” In truth, Freiheit had already set out on the path to become a Pro movement 2.0 (and it is not by chance that someone on the Pro-blog “liberal” cheered the decision of the security agency; one reader aptly commented, “Welcome to the club”). Today, it might be asked what use in these circumstances was all the (justified!) distancing from Pro, Repub, et. al.
It is no longer relevant, anyway. Pro, Republikaner and Freiheit are all splinter parties, whose essential problem is that they are trapped in their respective niches. And these niches are societally isolated. The “Agenda for Freedom” by Christian Jung and me — once branded “CDU 2.0” — was actually a suggestion for a path to growth and political participation. The party opted for the opposite course — into the niche, into isolation. Nothing can be changed politically from this position. In isolation, you reach no one but yourself.
The Quintessence of the Debate at the Time
Worse still than the self-inflicted dearth of prospects are the moral and ideological components. The “General Condemnation of Muslims” formulated by Stürzenberger in his position paper clearly targeted constitutional and human rights which are documented not only in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany but also in the General Declaration of Human Rights. We, who in the aftermath founded blu-News, and many others who turned away from Freiheit, were not prepared to accept this overstepping of boundaries. That was and is the quintessence of the debate. The Bavarian interior ministry (“It is certainly all right to be against the ZIE-M, but not this way, please!”) retroactively justifies all those who left the party at that time. The core of the matter remains unaltered by the one-sidedness of surveilling PI Munich and Bavarian Freiheit, but not the Islamist, Imam Idriz.
Many a person who left the party at that time has joined a new party — the Alternative for Germany (AfD). The AfD can rejoice in these members — they have, after all, given the ultimate proof of their dedication to liberal-democratic principles by exiting Freiheit.
Whether AfD will become the long-desired middle-class alternative is yet to be decided. An indicator will be given this weekend, when the new party is officially founded. AfD’s unparalleled popularity certainly confirms that the course Christian Jung and I espoused while in Freiheit had far greater prospects. Respectability and objectivity are indispensable pre-requisites for the successful development of a new middle-class force. Anyone who calls something like this “CDU 2.0” and seeks his salvation in polemics, in niches, in isolation and ultimately in radicalization may find great approval among his own kind, may portray himself in that small circle as courageous and heroic, but is forever condemned to wallow in that rut to which he has relegated himself. The tighter he wraps himself, the deeper he digs in, so much more difficult it will be to get out. And so much less he will achieve politically.
I told you so!
First of all, outsiders — which we are too in this case! — can have no effect here. But the situation serves as both warning and admonition, as a chilling example for future party foundings, including AfD. And in one sense it does affect us. We see a frightening example of the dangers associated with Islamization. We demand integration, namely (at the least!) loyalty to the liberal-democratic constitution. In fact, however, no radical measures are needed for staving off Islamization. Our democracy is strong enough, it offers sufficient protections to ward off all imaginable extremism. In other words, freedom and democracy may never be defended by putting their basic principles in doubt.
And the event affects us in one other way, insofar as the know-it-all comments from a “used car salesman” may be allowed here: I told you so! Let no one think that being right in this case is the source of very much joy. The damage to Islam-criticism is too great. That, unfortunately, is the sum total of all these events. But even if it is unpleasant, even if we are accused of putting the boot in, even if the result is all kinds of wild deprecations of our motives — all that has to be said and analyzed.
Insight is the first step toward recovery. Criticism of Islam is correct and necessary, so long as it is formulated objectively and seriously. It may not linger uselessly in a niche and consequently remain unheeded politically. To the contrary, Germany needs a middle-class, liberal force which will also address this subject. The question is not whether this is needed, but how successful it can be. Those who have gone aground in the attempt to politicize Islam criticism must accept, for better or worse, that others will venture to draw conclusions from their failure. Mistakes are more deadly when nothing is learned from them. No matter how dark this day is for Islam-criticism, it can also be educational. At least then some good will have come from it.
Morally, ideologically, politically
In closing, a brief anecdote. At the beginning of February, I was at an event with Geert Wilders, when a leading light of Die Freiheit asked me if I had not regretted leaving the party in 2011. I smiled to myself and spared the questioner a fully honest answer. Naturally it is too bad that things turned out this way. But for me and all the others, leaving at that time and after those events was the only responsible thing to do, not to mention an “alternativeless” decision, morally, ideologically, politically.
The question was fully and honestly answered today, by the Bavarian minister of the interior himself. The next answer will follow quickly, if AfD does us the favor of showing us how to do it better. And history will not note whether someone, somewhere, in some niche calls it “something-or-other 2.0.”