The following op-ed was published last month in Die Welt (subscription required), and has been translated for Gates of Vienna by JLH.
I’m amazed that this article appeared in the German MSM. Yes, I realize that the author’s arguments have their deficiencies — I can see them as clearly as you. However, as with a dog walking on his hind legs, the amazing thing is not how well it is done, but that it is done at all.
Ideology of Power
by Josef Lödin
Islam, as am ideology does not belong to Europe. It is not willing to regard religion, society and politics separately. Freedom, nucleus of the European Enlightenment, is alien to it.
Everyone — regardless of race or religion — can feel at home in Europe, provided he accepts and internalizes the essential values of European civilization. They were fought for and won in difficult battles between state and religion, individual and society, philosophy, science, art and faith. The nucleus of European Enlightenment is the freedom of the individual. This freedom is the greatest of possessions; with it comes questioning tradition, choosing a life different from that prescribed by the collective. This freedom was often paid for with one’s life. People allowed themselves to be burned at the stake, accepted torture, persecution, murder. We know that “spiritual progress” (Freud) is not a one-way street; that retreats in our European Enlightenment were often more powerful than advances; that barbarism was always and everywhere a reality. Nonetheless, the world will not get around the idea of freedom. And Islam too will founder on this idea. As Europeans, we are not prepared to give up our idea of freedom.
We are not talking about the individual who comes from Islamic culture and wants to be a Muslim, but about Islam as a philosophy and “idea of civilization.” Islam does not belong in Europe because it does not wish to regard religion, culture, society and politics as separate, but decisively wants to support its own unity. This mindset is not unknown to Europe. Both Judaism and Christianity are acquainted with this idea of unity under the banner of a faith. All religions would like have the effect of building civilization, but, in an arduous battle, Europe has distanced itself from the idea of omnipotence in religion.
Islam does not belong in Europe, because in this respect it is dragging along centuries behind. Because it places faith above science and enlightenment. It knows no Reformation. It has not experienced the battle between philosophy, science and church, for which the church paid by giving up its claim to omnipotence. With all due tolerance to traditional beliefs, European civilization cannot accept the superiority of faith over philosophy, science, art and enlightenment. Above all, Islam does not belong in Europe, despite Ataturk, because it is a stranger to the separation of politics and religion. Islam is in its essence a political theology. It is not by chance that its expansion came with the sword. Islam is an ideology of power. In its developing phase, it was not carried by a tradition of powerlessness, as was Judaism (“We were slaves in Egypt”) and Christianity, which had to defend itself against persecution and repression. Islam, to the contrary, played the part of master of the world from the start. Even though nothing of that is left, the claim has been internalized.
Islam is not European, because it put the collective above the individual, because it is not prepared to defend the individual from the collective, because it disregards the rights of minorities and because — all lip-service to the contrary notwithstanding — it maintains the greater value of the man. The culturally internalized inferiority of the woman has been a reality in Islam for centuries. You have to have a lot of sand in your eyes to justify or deny this. Islam can never be European, because the non-Muslim is an incomplete human being. Islam cannot be part of Europe, because criticizing it is forbidden, because apostasy of a Muslim is punished by death, because heresy is seen as more serious than all crimes against civil law. Islam does not belong in Europe, because it cruelly persecutes sexual minorities and is capable of no effective tolerance.
All these reasons form the causes of the backwardness of the Islamic world — its distaste for science, art and enlightenment. Any Muslim can become a European and practice his religion within European civilization. Because of its archaisms, Islam as an idea of civilization cannot be recognized as a part of Europe. Europe would limit itself; we would bow to the aggressive demand of Islam.
We must distinguish clearly between Islam as a religion and Islam as a civilization. Islam is not content to be a creed, but threatens secular European civilization with an imaginary alternative. Europe must reject this idea of an Islamic civilization. Many Europeans are lulling themselves with illusions, when they do not take Islam’s claim to overlordship seriously. The do not understand that this pseudo-idea of a civilization drives millions of Muslims, who want to free the world from our decadence.
In this discussion, Europeans must insist that it is not about religion: everyone can practice that within the framework of the law. The question is: What else does Islam have to offer? What civilization is it suggesting, what legal system, what system of public order, what educational system, what infrastructure, what opera houses, what libraries and hospitals, what answers to ecological questions? Only taking care of these things can claim the name of civilization. Everywhere that Islam has “civilized” in the last 600 years, it has left in its wake poverty, illiteracy and backwardness. In the realm of civilization, Islam has utterly failed. Since the Renaissance, it has dozed through the modern age. Whoever is unable to cope is happy to offer religion as a cure. In this case, religion is not an intellectual-historical heritage, but really just the opium of the people.
The author was born in Afghanistan in 1951 and came to Germany in 1960. Presently, he works in Zurich as a neurologist and psychiatrist. He is active as a psychiatric training analyst in Paris and Berlin.