Hamed Abdel-Samad: Islam is Not Compatible With Democracy

Hamed Abdel-Samad is an Egyptian-German author and an apostate from Islam who lives under a death fatwa for his criticism of his former faith. Rembrandt Clancy has translated and subtitled an interview with Mr. Abdel-Samad that aired yesterday in Germany. The translator includes an introduction, and also a transcript of the video.


The video below contains an interview with Hamed Abdel-Samad by one of Germany’s public broadcasters, the ARD. Born and raised in Egypt and the son of a Sunni imam, Mr. Abdel-Samad is an author and an apostate from Islam under police protection. He came to Germany in 1995 at the age of 23.

The subject of the interview arises from recent statements by politicians of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party to the effect that Islam is incompatible with liberal democracy (cf. Gates of Vienna). A draft policy has just been published and it contains an Article entirely devoted to Islam’s “strained relationship to the democratic world order”. The policy is to be discussed at a party convention to be held in two weeks’ time.

Deputy party leader Beatrix von Storch is quoted in the video interview from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung which reports her as saying that

“Islam is inherently a political ideology, which is incompatible with the Constitution,”

Referring to Islam’s paraphernalia, she said:

“We are in favour of a ban on minarets, on muezzins and for a ban on full body coverings.”

Alexander Gauland, party whip for the AfD in Brandenburg and a deputy party leader, made a statement along the same lines:

“Islam is not a religion in the same way as Catholic or Protestant Christianity, but is intellectually always connected with the takeover of the state. For that reason the Islamisation of Germany is dangerous,”

At the basis of these quotations is the party platform [pdf] of the AfD’s Federal Association (Bundesverband). The lengthy Article 7.6, “Islam in strained relationship with our liberal-democratic World Order”, contains the following section which provides an idea of the spirit of the document:

“The AfD rejects the minaret as an Islamic symbol of dominance as much as it does the call of the muezzin, according to which there is no God except the Islamic Allah. The minaret and the call of the muezzin stand in contradiction to a tolerant coexistence of the religions which the Christian churches practise in the modern age.” (Section 7.6.3, 19-22)

Article 7.6 contains the following sections:

7.6.1 Islam does not belong to Germany
7.6.2 Criticism of Islam must be permitted
7.6.3 Foreign financing of the mosques must be ended
7.6.4 No statutory corporation for Islamic organisations
7.6.5 Prohibition of full body covering

This last section (7.6.5) is noteworthy in that it is finally at least a quasi-official application of standards to Muslims which the Frankfurt School requires as a template only for the European cultural sphere:

The AfD calls for a general prohibition of the full body covering by the burka and niqab in public and in the public service.

Burka and niqab erect a barrier between the wearer and their surroundings and impede thereby cultural integration and social coexistence. A prohibition is therefore necessary and lawful pursuant to the judgement of the EuGH (European Court of Justice).

No headscarf is to be worn in the public service; in educational institutions, neither by teachers nor by students following the French model.

The headscarf as a religio-political sign of subordination of Muslim women to the man is inconsistent with the integration and equal rights of women and girls as well as the unimpeded development of personality.


Hamed Abdel-Samad, Publicist, on the Anti-Islam Debate of the AfD

Interview with Hamed Abdel-Samad

Video Source: ARD Das Erste: nachtmagazin

19 April 2016

Interviewer: Now I am in the company of a well-known Islam critic. He himself is a German-Arabian Muslim and works here as a publicist. Hamed Abdel-Samad, a pleasant evening to you!

Hamed Abdel-Samad: Good evening Hamburg, hello!

Interviewer: Tell us, what impact does this debate have here within the Muslim population?

Hamed Abdel-Samad: All of this has an emotional effect and it has consequences. I do not know why this debate is needed. Why does it take Islam to legitimate democracy or the other way round? I don’t understand it. When someone says, “Islam and democracy are mutually incompatible”, basically that is not actually not wrong. Islam has many problems with democracy; one has to distinguish between Islam as a religion, a political ideology … [Interviewer interrupts.]

Interviewer: Stop! Pardon me on this point! You have just said precisely what the AfD also said. You are confirming that!

Hamed Abdel-Samad: Yes, where is the problem? If the AfD were also to say “the sun is shining today”, then I would not contradict them. And that is the problem with the parties of the centre: right from the start they have to contradict everything the AfD says. And it does not have to be that way. We have to free ourselves from this compulsion. One must take this debate, this Islam-critical debate into the middle of the society; then we won’t have this problem.

Interviewer: Good! That means, to summarise, that you confirm what Frau von Storch said: ‘Islam is less a religion than it is a political ideology’!

Hamed Abdel-Samad: Islam is both: Islam is a religion, it is a political force, but also a political ideology, a social order, a societal order and precisely these parts of Islam are problematical and also cannot become part of Germany.

Interviewer: Then once more the question: how does this debate impact the Muslim population on the inside?

Hamed Abdel-Samad: Since Muslims themselves do not take part in this debate, there is always the attempt to defend Islam, and simply to bring the compatibility of Islam and democracy hypocritically into the foreground. Then others take up debate and they pursue it very politically and in such an emotionally charged way. And we do not benefit from it. Those in the middle of society, the politicians, but also the Muslim community itself, must acknowledge that Islam, as a political ideology and as a legal order, is not compatible with democracy; and that one must detach one’s self from many elements of authentic Islam, in order to get on in Europe.

Interviewer: You yourself have been invited several times at the AfD as a speaker and you got on super there. Do you find a certain affinity or is that for you a perfect atmosphere for constructive debate?

Hamed Abdel-Samad: It is a perfect atmosphere for constructive debate. I am not an AfD voter and would also not vote for the AfD. Actually, I used to vote for the SPD. And I am not susceptible to blackmail like many German publicists. I’ll speak with everyone. And it is not correct that I got on super with the AfD. There was one function where AfD members were chafed by my topics. For I distinguish between Islam as a religion and Muslims as human beings, who are much more diverse and much more multifaceted than the ideology. And one must differentiate between the two. But the Islamic associations do not do that, and the politicians do not do that and also some racists in this country do not do that and all three constitute for me problems of integration. One must distinguish between the religion and the followers of the religion. One can respect people, but one does not have to respect everything these people believe, and accept everything as a total package.

Interviewer: These are fascinating statements of yours. Thank you very much for the conversation, Hamed Abdel-Samad.

Previous posts about Hamed Abdel-Samad:

2010   Sep   16   The Post-Quranic Age
2013   Oct   24   Fear is a Bad Advisor
2014   Apr   6   An Inferiority Complex Plus a Quest for World Domination
        11   “Fascism is Rooted in Islam”
    Jul   14   Hamed Abdel-Samad says “Auf Wiedersehen” to Germany
2015   Jul   6   Open Letter From a German Muslim: Islam is Not a Part of Germany, Mrs. Merkel

17 thoughts on “Hamed Abdel-Samad: Islam is Not Compatible With Democracy

  1. Well obviously it is incompatible with Democracy.The very fact that apostates (those who decide not to be Muslims anymore) are placed under a fatwah proves this.The fatwah is a religious directive to any practicing Muslim to kill an apostate on sight.The killer of the apostate is guaranteed automatic entry to paradise and 72 virgins when he gets there.
    The apostate must live under 24 hour police protection(should he be lucky enough to live in the West) or loose his life.
    Right there Islam denies the democratic right to life and liberty. Specifically it denies the democratic rights of a citizen to : freedom of religion,freedom of association,freedom of movement,freedom of thought and freedom of conscience and freedom of speech.

    • Not obvious to mainstream yet. That’s why a short widely-broadcast item like this is very valuable.

    • The killer of the apostate, as well as being rewarded in the hereafter, is exempt from any penalty in this world, “since it is killing someone who deserves to die” (Manual of Islamic Law, “Reliance of the Traveller”, o8.4 – available as a free download).
      This is the basis of Islam’s vigilante killing system, whereby your fellow believer doubles as your executioner.

    • Islam is not compatible with Communism either , the problems in China prove this , so who do Muslims get on with ?

    • Nimrod: To say that Hamed Abdel-Samad is still a Muslim would be to use the term loosely to say the least; especially if he is under police protection. Perhaps it means little that he did not contradict the interviewer when she referred to him as a Muslim.

      I followed him some years back and recall that he identified himself as an athiest. He had quite a hard time of it when he came to Germany. It might be accurate enough to say that he is a convert to the Enlightenment. This is supported in an Spiegel interview given in English back in 2010:

      In some sense, regardless of his beliefs, he could be understood as a convert to Christianity, for he is steeped in logos, the use of reason.

      • He has often said that he is an agnostic, or atheist.

        I was quite puzzled by the journalist’s introduction. I think he did not react to it, because time was limited.

  2. I think he has said something in one of his excellent TV interviews amounting to: only culturally, enjoying some of the traditions. So the way an atheist in a western country might feel culturally Christian (ie celebrating Christmas and enjoying the music).

    He is an absolute powerhouse of islam critique, including his book Der Islamische Faschismus. A pretty clear statement!

  3. At one point in the interview, Abdel-Samad says:

    “… it is not correct that I got on super with the AfD. There was one function where AfD members were chafed by my topics. For I distinguish between Islam as a religion and Muslims as human beings, who are much more diverse and much more multifaceted than the ideology. And one must differentiate between the two. But the Islamic associations do not do that, and the politicians do not do that and also some racists in this country do not do that and all three constitute for me problems of integration. One must distinguish between the religion and the followers of the religion. One can respect people, but one does not have to respect everything these people believe, and accept everything as a total package.”

    If Abdel-Samad is accurate in his description of the AfD — that they “chafed” at his insistence on a distinction between Islam and Muslims — then I say, good for the AfD! And such an insistence on Abdel-Samad’s part makes him suspect, in my view.

    Such a distinction is flawed & misguided on four accounts:

    1) it fails to apprehend the elementary fact that whatever is bad about Islam only affects us when Muslims put it into practice;

    2) it assumes we can tell the difference, with sufficient reliability, between dangerous Muslims and harmless Muslims (even generously assuming the latter exist in appreciable numbers);

    3) it tends to reinforce the notion that we must accept Muslims in the West as a fait accompli (which then makes it more difficult for us to limit their numbers and to limit their pursuit & practice of Islam) — which brings me finally to:

    4) it assumes we will be able to control an already large (and continuing to grow) demographic by instituting deep and broad disrespect of perhaps the most important symbol of their self-identity, their Islam. Perhaps with any other subcultural demographic, this might be doable, insofar as other subcultural groups and peoples don’t have an ultra-violent martial culture as Islam does and don’t have the supremacist prickliness & chip on their shoulder which Muslims have cultivated; but with regard to Muslims, it seems implausible that we can continue to abide their presence while also mistreating them on such a deep existential level as the Muslims will perceive any substantive limitations on their practice of Islam to be.

    • Your analysis strikes on what may be a magic formula for survival in a hostile environment. (The ARD public broadcaster is not normally expected to be this friendly), or perhaps it is an apotropaic charm against recognising the full extent of the problem. Geert Wilders makes similar statements as well, even in parliament. But then he contradicts it with policy. It is hard to explain. It may be the tacit assumption that Islamic populations as a whole are reformable (can be integrated) in the long run, which is consistent with some of the points you made. But we do not have a long run.

      The separation of the ideology from its carrier is like trying to separate the legion of devils from the one possessed. When the carriers themselves were removed in Germany in 1945, the devils just entered into some other herd of “swine” who are now leaping into the sea. The same is true after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The legion of devils moved West. Mark Steyn said: “You can take the girl out of East Germany, but you can’t take the East Germany out of the girl.”

      Even the ideology of the Left, its political correctness and “tolerance” (charity) cannot be separated from the now latent, Christian infra-spirituality of the West.

  4. As Islam is incompatible with democracy, it is a monumental error to support any sort of ‘democratic opposition’ in a Muslim country. Whenever some sort of ‘democratic revolutionaries’ destabilise a secular dictatorship or monarchy in a Muslim State, some fanatical Islamists use it as a chance to seize power. The ‘democratic opposition’ then is either slaughtered in the process or turns out to be not so democratic after all.

    From this you it can be inferred that, for the sake of its own survival, the West should support authoritarian secular regimes – like those in Syria or Jordan – against any sort of wannabe democrats whose role can be only destructive in their societies.

    • “the West should support authoritarian secular regimes …”

      You are correct, I think, in stating that a secular, non-Islamic dictatorship in Muslim countries is preferable to democracy. However, I strongly disagree with your assertion that the West ought to support them. The West has shown that it can muck up any situation, so the best policy is for them to leave things alone.

      The US government is now trying to remove the present, “non-democratic” government of Syria. It is quite obvious that were the Syrian government to fall, the Islamic State would be in predominant control of most Syrian land. I think the motivation of the present US government is exactly that: remove non-representative secular governments in favor of Muslim and sharia-dominated governments.

      If we establish the principle of US intervention, which is already extremely well-established, the intervention will favor Islam.

  5. ” … one must detach one’s self from many elements of authentic Islam, in order to get on in Europe.”

    That is, unless getting on is not your goal, and with Islam, it isn’t.

  6. If Islam is only a religion, i.e. is only a spiritual belief, then it follows that the exact opposite, Malsi, would be only a religion too: it would exalt the Jews and Christians; it would revere the women; it would praise the killing of Muslims behind a tree where you find them; it would give women a predominant legal advantage over their husbands and prescribe proper husband beating techniques; and it would eat pork, love music and dogs and uncover women, and maybe whistle 5 times a day from some cavern in the ground.

    Hey, is this us now, or what? To be an exact mirror image, we would only have to change our minds about what to do with Muslims behind trees, where we find them and what to do with folks who leave Malsi.

    If we began such a religion, we could also be fawned upon by the multi-culturists and Critical-Theorists.

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