An Open Letter to German Muslims

Many thanks to JLH for translating this excellent piece by Henryk Broder from Die Welt:

An Open Letter

It’s nice that Muslims have protested against the Islamic State. But the distinction between Islam and Islamism is often hairsplitting. Sometimes, they are two sides of the same coin.

Sept. 19, 2014: More than a thousand Muslims demonstrated in Berlin-Kreuzberg against racism, xenophobia and extremism with a public prayer for peace.

Dear Muslim Fellow Citizens…

by Henryk M. Broder, September 23, 2014

Dear Muslim Fellow Citizens and Descendants of the Prophet Mohammed,

I don’t know if that is the right form of address. It seems a bit awkward. I am inclined to say, Dear Musulmen and Musulwomen, but that, I fear would be politically incorrect And I don’t want to insult anyone. Especially since we have something in common. I too am a citizen with an immigrant background. I was eleven and spoke no German art all, when my parents left Poland and traveled to Cologne by way of Vienna. Cologne, of all places. At any rate, Kattowitz, where we came from, was even uglier.

When I look back today, I can only say that I had a crummy childhood. Not because of the “Welcoming Culture” that emanated from Colognese and Carnival, but because of my parents. They had survived the Nazi era, but their souls had stopped dead in their tracks. Our home was a purgatory of remembrances. Nonetheless, I never had the urge to blow myself up or join a terrorist group. Even though all l wanted was just one thing — to get out of this never-ending misery.

Life had something to offer — even in Cologne. Maastricht was just around the corner, Amsterdam was only three hours away. I am just saying that to make it clear that I wasn’t born on a yacht with a golden Visa card in my hand. So much for me. Now for you.

Deeds Cannot Be Separated From the Doers

I thought it was good that you “set an example” last Friday and demonstrated against racism, fanaticism and barbarism, which, as all speakers unanimously confirmed, has nothing to do with “true Islam.” You distanced yourselves from the crimes that were committed “in the name of Islam.” Anyway, I was overcome by a sensation of déja vu. Where had I heard this formulation before?

Oh, right! At the memorial ceremony for the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, and for the day of the book-burning, and on every November 9th recalling “Reichskristallnacht,” and at all the state visits of German presidents in Poland, France and Greece where they ask forgiveness for crimes committed “in Germany’s name.”

And every time, I wondered, how was it possible to lay waste half of Europe, kill millions of people and still separate the doers from the deeds? Had the Germans authorized some sub-contractor — some Ltd. — to fetch Austria home to the Reich, to attack Poland, to level Rotterdam and Coventry, while they themselves were off rambling — with Strength through Joy — on Rügen and in the Bavarian Forest?

And today, I wonder, how can crimes be committed “in the name of Islam” and have nothing to do with Islam and not reflect on Islam?

How to Distinguish the “True” From “Not the True” Muslims?

“Believe me, terrorists are not Muslims,” said a young man on the edge of the rally last Friday. Where did he come by this information? Do they not pray five times a day? Do they not bow in the direction of Mecca? Do they perhaps eat pork and wash down the evil aftertaste with a bottle of Jack Daniels? Or could it be that the fighters of IS consider themselves to be the “true Muslims” and all others who are not in a position to lop the head off of an “infidel” to be marshmallows who deserve the same fate. Has someone developed a litmus test — or a urinalysis — to distinguish “true” from “false” Muslims?

If IS is not Islamic, then the Inquisition was not Christian. And Torquemada was only torturing “in the name of Christianity,” while the “true Christians” were preparing for the next ecumenical congress. And the Crusaders? Those were the first adventure vacationers. Everything included, so to speak.

What irritates me even more, my dear kindred, is another formulation repeated like a mantra recently: “Islam is perfect. Only some Muslims are not.” A sentence that sounds wise and conciliatory. No one is perfect; anyone can make a mistake. Of course, the sub-text is totalitarian. Just as there is no such thing as a perfect human being, there is also no perfect system, no perfect religion.

Every democrat knows that democracy is not a final state of affairs, but a work in progress. It must constantly be improved and amended. It is like wanting to know what is beyond the horizon. You constantly approach, but never get there.

Atrocity as a Mere Human Failing?

Only adherents of totalitarian systems are so consumed by their faith that they think it is perfect. Communism was perfect, and so was National Socialism. If there were problems putting it into effect, it was because of people who were not up to the task. And now Mohammed’s followers are walking in the same argumentative footsteps. He was a perfect human being, Islam is perfect, but some Muslims are not.

A magic formula like this means every atrocity can be traced back to “human failing” and justified. That is the reason for inventing the difference between Islam and Islamism. Islam is a “religion of peace.” That has been emphatically confirmed recently by President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron and German Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maizière.

Islamism, on the other hand, is an “inhumane ideology,” whose path is paved with corpses. And the one has nothing to do with the other. Except that the crimes committed “in the name of Islam” are blamed on Islamism.

Honestly, that is too complicated for me. I don’t get it. Maybe somebody can help me clear it up. Are the attacks of 9/11 the responsibility of Islam or Islamism? Hanging homosexuals from construction cranes, stoning adulteresses and chopping off hands and feet as punishment for theft — do these correspond to the commandments of Islam or the practices of Islamism? Do the attacks in London, Madrid, Bali, Poona, Mumbai, Djerba, Ankara, Amman and Nairobi — to name a few — point to Islam or Islamism?

So What Remains of Islam, And What is Now Islamism?

When Hamas condemns a dozen alleged traitors and has them shot to death in the courtyard of a Gaza mosque — is that done in accordance with the regulations of Islam, or because the Islamists wanted it? When millions upon millions of Muslims demonstrate against a few Mohammed cartoons that they have only heard about, and if ca. 100 people die as a result of these movements, should we attribute that to Islam or the Islamists?

And when an imam who has fled Denmark calls in a Berlin mosque for the “Zionist Jews to be hunted down and killed to the last person,” does that articulate the benevolence of Islam or the harsh tone of Islamism?

There are fanatics in every religion who take their faith so seriously that God, if he does exist, would avert his countenance in revulsion. Among the Protestants it was the recently expired Ian Paisley who did all he could to prevent a resolution of the Northern Ireland conflict. Among the Catholics, it is the British Bishop Richard Williamson — a proven anti-Semite and a Holocaust denier. Among us are the madmen of Neturei Karta, who see themselves as the only “true” Jews and consider the Holocaust a just punishment by God. They pray several times a day for the arrival of the Messiah, and hope for the destruction of Israel, better sooner than later.

In no other religion — I am sorry to say — are the throngs of fanatics so fully packed as in your case, dear neighbors in the great house of monotheism. And that has nothing to do with the fact that there are ca. 14 million Jews worldwide, 800 million Protestants, 1.2 billion Catholics and 1.5 billion Muslims.

How Many Christians and Jews Fight With Fire and Sword?

Every practicing Christian, every observant Jew is of course convinced that one religion is superior to the other. That is also true in secular belief communities — vegetarians, nuclear power opponents, and those who preach the end of the world through climate change.

But how many Christians and Jews today are trying to establish their religion with fire and sword? When was the last time that a Jew or Christian blew himself and others up because some infidel had insulted Jesus or Moses? With the exception of Ireland, when was the last time that Catholics and Protestants went after each other as Sunnis and Shi’ites are still doing today?

Possibly Islam and Islamism, for which there is even a comparative form — radical Islamism — are not fully congruent. But the segue is fluid. Do Hamas, which runs Gaza, and Hezbollah, which is involved in the government in Lebanon, belong to the Islam wing of the Ummah; while Boko Haram, al-Qaida, al-Nusra, al-Shabaab, the Sauerland group and the two Nigerian converts who literally hacked British soldier Lee Rigby to death on May 22, 2013 lean a bit more to Islamism? Only one thing is clear. They are all topped by the Islamic State, and it will not be long before some even more radical group will top the IS.

As I said before, I think it is good that you set an example, with the German minister of the interior, the president of the Central Committee of Jews in Germany and the chair of the council of the Protestant Church in Germany, all of whom spoke to you as one speaks to dimwitted children — veerry sloowwly, pronouncing each word.

Beheadings Are Really Crappy PR

Anyway, you only hit the street to demonstrate against fanaticism after two Americans and one Brit were beheaded by an IS killer. That was naturally crappy PR, both for Islam and Islamism. And these weren’t the first beheadings in “the name of Islam.” In Karachi, in January of 2002, Daniel Pearl — a Jewish journalist from the US, who worked for The Wall Street Journal, was executed in similar fashion. Responsibility was claimed by a “National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty.”

Since then, an increasing number of infidels and traitors have been beheaded, as was the custom in Mohammed’s day, and is still in Saudi Arabia. Last Friday, the headless body of a Bedouin was found in the proximity of the city Sheikh Zuweid in the north of the Sinai peninsula. The man was said to have spied for Israel. Since he was neither American nor British and the “execution” was not videotaped, it did not come to general attention.

I fear you will soon have to get moving again and set another “example.” For the Heute-Journal, for the Tagesthemen, for the Minister of the Interior. Unless, something better occurs to you; especially something to reach the young people who are going to Iraq and Syria. Including, of course, underage girls who want to marry a “martyr.” How about a rock concert in the Duisburg-Marxloh mosque? Or a jihad for free love?

Salaam and Shalom to all.

24 thoughts on “An Open Letter to German Muslims

  1. From the small picture above, I notice the Muslims protesting against Isis are mostly elderly.

    Were there a similar number of young Muslims present? The type who, so numerously, rev up their BMWs at night, listen to angry rap and speak loudly in their language, in large groups on the S-bahn trains?

  2. “Preaching the end of the world through climate change”. Ah, dear.

    The world will not end. Humanity will survive. We find ourselves presiding over a mass extinction event, true, but what can good hunters do but hunt? And what can good farmers do, but clear the land and farm? And what can good miners do, but dig up whatever coal there is in the ground?

    And if this leads to some more extinctions, what of it? We ourselves will survive. Some of us, at any rate. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if temperatures rose 2, or 4, 0r 8 degrees C from the levels that accompanied us from the dawn of civilization to today.

    But it could be the end of today’s bounty. Corn crops fail when summer temperatures are persistently above 90 F. Seafood chains are not immune to ocean acidification. We would be well advised to not push our luck. Reality does not promise us anything, or at most, it promises us that the laws of physics will be enforced. If those laws, in combination with our willful determination to carry on burning coal and oil even though we could easily transition to wind, solar, and nuclear, take us into difficulty, it will be our own stupid fault.

    It used to be the forte of conservatives, to stare reality in the face and not blink, to view with jaundiced eye rosy predictions that everything would work out, that there could not be side effects or unintended mischances. To conserve what we knew worked, and move to the new only when it had been tested in such a way that if it proved unlike its promise, we could turn away from what had proved to be an error.

    But now? People who call themselves conservative predict with airy confidence that climate sensitivity will turn out to be much lower than scientists expect. That ocean acidification won’t be a problem. That advances in technology will allow us to easily ride out any pesky little disruption to the climate. Perhaps so. But why this eagerness to stake so much on the turn of the dice, for so little a prize as electricity at 4 cents less per kilowatt hour? If that.

    • Corn crops fail when summer temperatures are persistently above 90 F

      Which, globally, won’t happen. But that doesn’t mean warming isn’t preferable to cooling for human growth and the longer growing seasons in currently cooler climates.

      Corn will be raised where it couldn’t be before. Farmers have always gone where the arable land AND water is.

      The growing problem, so to speak, is water. Some parts of inland California have already run dry. FL hasn’t had a hurricane in several years – nor have we in Virginia. We depend on those to raise the inland water table.

      As for what “conservatives” do or do not do…what happened to the Henny Penny liberal predictions that oil was going to have run out 14 years ago and that mass famine would have killed off large numbers of the population by now? Liberals were so dire & so apocalyptic back then that when their silly ideas didn’t turn out to be true, it caused large numbers of people to quit listening. That’s what’s happening with agw. Or is it agcc? Anthropogenic global climate change – we don’t know which way it’s going folks, but hot or cold we know it will be bad and you will suffer and it’s your fault for being so greedy. Meanwhile, they conveniently ignore what one volcano can do to the earth’s atmosphere for years. Why? Because who wants to blame Gaia?

      It doesn’t mean that the Left doesn’t block the portals of communication and education. It just means that they’re having trouble finding people to pay for what they have to say. Just look at the bath the New York Times took when they sold the Boston Globe recently. I think the buyer got a few buggy whips thrown in on the deal.

      The MSM is not a growth industry and won’t be again. The technology of Silicon Valley – they work like libertarians and vote like liberals – has killed the monopoly and is trying to install its own partnership with govt. to replace the one media conglomerates had.

      A lot of us wandered away from “conservatism” when it was taken over by big government statists. That leaves the field clear for the machine Dems in the near future, but when the tax burdens become unsustainable, it will collapse. As the cities are doing now, with their overpaid, over-pensioned union workers. They are a huge drain on the fiscal health of cities. Look for more bankruptcies.

    • Oh cry me a river.
      Progressive’s answer to ‘global warming’ alarmism is the redistribution of assets from productive socieites forced to purchase ‘carbon credits’ .

      These purchased ‘carbon credits’ enrich the ever growing and financially insatiable ‘appointed’ /’anointed’ international governing bodies whose privileged members are notorious for their excessive carbon footprints.

      These ‘appointed’ /’anointed’ international governing bodies have yet to provide measurable results of the value of one ounce of gold those carbon credits could purchase which has made a scintilla of difference with the climate you bleeding hearts are so concerned with..

      So, yes, cry me a river.

  3. >If IS is not Islamic, then the Inquisition was not Christian.

    He’s got this wrong. IS *is* Islamic because it is following the Quran and example of its main prophet. The Inquisition is *not* Christian because it is not supported anywhere by the example of Jesus or the New Testament.

    Ali Sina says: “In Christianity, it wasn’t the religion that needed to be reformed, but the church; what Jesus preached was good.” On the other hand, Sina continues, “In Islam, it’s the religion that is not good.”

  4. ”If IS is not Islamic, then the Inquisition was not Christian. And Torquemada was only torturing “in the name of Christianity,” while the “true Christians” were preparing for the next ecumenical congress. And the Crusaders? Those were the first adventure vacationers. Everything included, so to speak.”

    That’s easy. Does their Scripture proscribe such acts. If so then they are the real muslims.

  5. An interesting piece, although I would take issue with the comment: “Among the Protestants it was the recently expired Ian Paisley who did all he could to prevent a resolution of the Northern Ireland conflict. “.
    This is ignorant and misleading.
    However you view the way Northern Ireland was set up by the partition of Ireland in the 1920’s, the Northern Ireland of Ian Paisley’s time (and my time – I’ve lived there half my life) is a viable country, where the majority of the population want to remain part of the UK. Facing us was, and still is, a foreign power claiming the country as its own, regardless of the wishes of the majority, and armed criminal gangs willing to carry out atrocities against the civilian population (Google “Kingsmills”) both in the name of a “united Ireland” and of a “United Kingdom”.
    Paisley’s apparent recalcitrance was a principled refusal to deal with the terrorists on their terms. He refused to enter a power-sharing deal with the republican movement until they had demonstrably committed to peace. Not giving in to people pointing a gun at your head is not “doing all you can to prevent resolution of the Northern Ireland conflict”.
    Some people have said that had Paisley “come on side” years earlier, it may have saved many lives. Given that the Irish Republic still had its illegal (under European law) claim to Norther Ireland written into its constitution and the republican movement still committed to the violent overthrow of Northern Ireland, it would have been a capitulation. And let’s not forget that the majority of those killings heaped at the feet of Paisley’s intransigence were committed by republicans. For all the firebrand rhetoric, Paisley was, I believe, a man of peace. One of the best things I heard him say was in the denunciation of terrorist murder gang. He said: “They come from hell, and they are going to hell”. The fact that he was talking about a *loyalist* terrorist gang seems to get glossed over by those who see only the bluster. The fact is that, once the republican movement committed to peace and the Irish Republic dropped its constitutional claim to Northern Ireland, Paisley became a model for working with former enemies, demonstrating that it is possible to have working relationships with those who hold diametrically-opposed views to your own in order to build a better society.
    We have shabby kind of peace in Northern Ireland now. Every time there’s a terrorist attack (thankfully quite rare), it’s blamed on “dissident republicans” because this has nothing to do with mainstream republicanism (doesn’t some of this sound familiar?). We have an ersatz democracy, and are one of the only countries in the west that has a quasi-governmental body backed by the full might of the police (and our peelers are mighty compared to the Garda and the English police) which is solely dedicated to removing the right of people to assemble and walk where they will – to avoid offending others. This *does* sound familiar doesn’t it?
    Paisley may have been many things; someone committed to preventing a resolution of the Northern Ireland conflict was not one of them.

    • Dave, I wouldn’t excuse republican (or any) terrorism in Northern Ireland, but we Brits allowed an ongoing series of injustices for decades; some jobs were for Protestants only, and the electoral boundaries of Catholic-majority Londonderry were gerrymandered to ensure a Protestant majority on the city council.

    • The voice of what American politicians have been quoted as calling “Irregular Ireland”. A good bit of the old taquiya here and there too. Irish and British people have moved on a good many years now to peaceful happier days of good will growth and co-operation. Ian caught on just in time. “Domination” was done. (Sound familiar)

    • Dave said:

      However you view the way Northern Ireland was set up by the partition of Ireland in the 1920’s, the Northern Ireland of Ian Paisley’s time (and my time – I’ve lived there half my life) is a viable country, where the majority of the population want to remain part of the UK.

      Was that “majority” in the population of Northern Ireland descended from the indigenous Irish or were they the inheritors brought in by England from Scotland to take over the land in the 17th century? Irish records of births and deaths were destroyed completely during that time, including raiding the church baptistry records. Which is why indigenous Irish families can’t trace their records back beyond that time. They were systematically destroyed.

      Yes, lots of criminality on both sides, but in the end there is no way around the fact that England invaded. That it cleverly found ways to create loyalty for itself after that invasion doesn’t change the original wrong. The indigenes had many flaws and one of them was an inherent inability to unite in a common cause. Ireland is not the only country where England took advantage of that fierce, flawed and self-defeating individualism.

      • Sorry, but the “indigenous v. settler” meme doesn’t work for me. I’m a non-indigenous American, hence a “settler”. The part of my family from central Europe said in its own book that they displaced people from their ancestral homeland between the Jordan and the Med. The Hakka Chinese portion of my family displaced the Hundred Yue of the southeastern Mainland and the Pingpu of Taiwan. The Scandinavian part of my family tree introduced blonde genes into Ireland, I understand–and not peacefully.

        One Irish Nationalist proved too much in a paper on Gaelic in 18th century Ulster–that reading it was a Protestant thing. I’ve seen so many old Presbyterian records from the NE US in which a Presbytery welcome the new colleague “Mr. Mc(something) or Mr. (something)ghan, from county such-and-such in Ireland”. I suspect that the folks who were “Scots-Irish” in the 19th century were just “Protestant Irish” in the 18th–and possibly with as much indigenous Irish makeup as Scots and English. Perhaps it served a number of 19th century mythologies to say that Protestantism in Ireland was from the eastern Island 100 percent (and never mind that Irish Gaelic had a Protestant Bible that people used before Scots Gaelic had one). Hence, even if the Protestant Irish are “British” and need to go, well, then a lot of other peoples have to go from a lot of places; even if they are as much “native Irish” and “British”, it doesn’t mean they must necessarily belong to the Republic if they don’t want to.

        • Today the “Protestsnt” population in the north of Ireland is a minority. All the Irish have more in common than divide them.

          • Robert Bruce King of Scotland (1274 – 1329) sent the following invitation to all Irish chieftains in the hope of attracting their support to the common cause.
            “Whereas we and you and our people and your people, free since ancient times, share the same national ancestry and are urged to come together more eagerly and joyfully in friendship by a common language and by common custom, we have sent you our beloved kinsman, the bearers of this letter, to negotiate with you in our name about permanently strengthening and maintaining inviolate the special friendship between us and you, so that with God’s will our nation (nostra nacio) may be able to recover her ancient liberty”.

          • Movinon: I wasn’t talking about the north of Ireland. That’s Donegal and Sligo. I was talking about Northern Ireland. Also, carving out the territorial dispute as Protestant vs. Catholic is simplistic and, with respect, ill-informed. There are Catholic Unionists, there are Protestant Republicans. I know plenty of both. According to one survey done for BBC Northern Ireland, there are even Sinn Fein voters who would vote Unionist in a border poll.
            The comments about civil rights, who invaded whom, Prod vs. Catholic, the famine (surprised no one mentioned this yet) etc. etc. are all true but have to be regarded as providing an historical context rather than describing the situation on the ground, here and now. Just about every country in the world has, at some point in time, been invaded, colonised (in whole or in part), had borders redefined by conflict (look at Alsace) or had some injustice perpetrated on it by some power or other. The US was a prime example and, if the southern border immigration crisis is anything to go by, still is.
            So what do you do?
            I would suggest the only thing you can do is see what the majority population want, expressed as a free and fair vote (and by and large, NI elections are).
            The Unionist parties have a bigger electoral mandate than do the Republican parties. The numbers are available for all to see. We now have “petitions of concern” used for voting on major issues where a consensus from both sides is required for a measure to be passed. Since there are fewer Republican MLAs than Unionist, this means that in a PoC, a Republican votes counts for more (about 10-15% depending on the calculation) than does a Unionist vote. Hence my comment about an ersatz democracy.

            I freely accept that the Act of Union is not written in stone. All I want is the peaceful implementation of the free expression of the people of this great place. And it is great; I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in the UK. You should come and have a look round.

      • Perhaps England invaded; but did the Scots? There is much evidence that Scots where going to the isle and back for many centuries. The legend of Culhican being ancient and illustrative. It can be very difficult to distinguish which community one is from there. This results in a game being played to find out which side someone is from, whom you have just met. You may have just met someone on a bus for instance and through a series of questions try to determine who they are.
        I think that it is time for this to be over. Both sides must remember they are Christian, first and foremost. How else will they be ready for what is coming their way?

        • Bert. Spot on.
          I heard it described a while ago as being like a WW2 movie, where the army, navy and air force are all fighting in a bar over who’s best, forgetting their common foe – the nazis outside. We’ve let the new nazis of a certain religion establish bridgeheads in our cities and we still bicker among ourselves.

  6. “secular belief communities . . . nuclear power opponents”

    Fukushima is still going on, three and a half years later, with no stopping it in sight. Elsewhere, reactors past their design dates, many in geologically unstable location, keep getting relicensed.

  7. @ Dave
    This is one of the reasons I like being associated with this site. Unlike other sites, where the majority of comments may range from mindless endorsement to mindless vituperation, I spend a lot of time on this site learning not only from the authors, but from the commenters.

  8. Stongly agree with the article. I say again:

    Create a cartoon of DAVID CAMERON during the BLITZ pointing at German bombers in the sky exclaiming: “THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH GERMANY!”

  9. Re: climate change. Where I am now sitting in Ontario, Canada, there was during the last ice age, a mile deep glacier. It melted. It wasn’t always here, it was warm before that.
    Now that’s real climate change and people didn’t have anything to do with it.

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