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Against Islamism AND Xenophobia

Islamists and "patriots" are more similar in their basic beliefs than they suspect

In the past several weeks, thousands of people have responded to the calls of "Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes" (Pegida - "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident"). This was followed by a broad social debate, in which it was unfortunately all too rarely discussed how much the thought patterns of the "patriots" resemble the basic premises of those Islamists they criticise. The Giordano Bruno Stiftung has taken this opportunity to publish a brochure to raise awareness of this issue.

"In the debate on Islam and integration, the fronts have become entrenched: While some reject any criticism of the patriarchal domination culture of orthodox Islam, others kindle a dangerous hostility towards Muslims that unacceptably disregards the considerable differences within the 'Muslim spectrum'." These are the introductory words of the latest gbs brochure "Self-Determination Instead of Peer Pressure - Against Islamism AND Xenophobia". One might think that the text was drafted only recently after the Pegida demonstrations in Dresden, but in fact it followed the "Final Resolution of the Second Critical Islam Conference", which was already passed in Berlin on May 12, 2013.

At that time the participants of the Critical Islam Conference opposed the "propagandists and defenders of political Islam", stating "that freedom of religion is not a licence to disregard the fundamental values of the secular constitutional state". On the other hand they strongly distanced themselves from those "who misuse the necessary criticism of developments hostile to freedom within the 'Muslim communities' in order to incite xenophobic resentment".

On closer examination it is obvious that "Islamists and Muslim haters have a lot in common in their underlying thought patterns": "Both compulsively cling to the 'floe' of their respective traditions and defend their ancestral cultural ghetto in a knee-jerk reaction against the supposed enemy of the 'foreign' ('the non-believers' here - 'the Muslims' there)". This crude mindset has infected the entire debate on Islam and integration in Germany. The fundamental error is "that individuals are all too often reduced to religious or ethnic group identities, which hinders individual emancipation and promotes the development of parallel societies".

Contrary to such stereotyping, the Critical Islam Conference 2013 developed the "Model of a Transcultural Society", in which "every individual is given the chance to shape their life independently within the framework of a social order based on human rights, and in which cultural diversity can be experienced as enrichment instead of a threat". However, this openness should not be confused with "false tolerance". Thus "human rights violations are not to be tolerated under any circumstances - not even if they are justified with 'sacred values'". A "new, further and equal separation of the state from all ideological and religious communities" would therefore be necessary.

A sustainable policy should by no means seek to "mediate between 'the cultures', but to liberate individuals from the corset of rigid norms". Those who have not learned to "overcome their own traditional constraints" will feel "quickly overwhelmed by the huge range of available alternative lifestyles", which has fatal consequences: "The hatred towards the 'foreign' resulting from this excessive demand is one of the most serious problems of our time. With the help of the transcultural model, it would be possible to counteract the 'clash of civilizations' fired by right-wing extremists of all kinds (Islamists and anti-Muslimists) from the outset."

The "Final Resolution of the Second Critical Islam Conference", now available as a brochure, was originally written by gbs spokesman Michael Schmidt-Salomon and discussed, revised and adopted by a large majority of the conference participants - including Hamed Abdel-Samad, Lale Akgün, Necla Kelek, Rolf Schwanitz and Wolfgang Welsch - on May 12, 2013.

gbs regional groups and anyone interested in distributing the German brochure can order it free of charge from the Giordano Bruno Stiftung. The printed brochure will be delivered starting in January 2015. The online version of the brochure "Against Islamism AND Xenophobia" (in German language) can already be downloaded as a pdf file from the gbs website.