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Islam Criticism instead of Anti-Muslim Xenophobia

gbs defends participation in the demo #unteilbar

The Giordano Bruno Stiftung supported the mass demonstration #unteilbar (#indivisible) in Berlin, where on Saturday more than 240,000 people set an example for "an open and solidary society". Since organizations and individuals who do not convincingly seem to be committed to an "open society" also took part in this demonstration, the participation of gbs in #unteilbar met with some sharp criticism. The foundation responded to the critics with a short but clear statement.​


We expected that our participation in the large-scale demonstration #unteilbar would cause incomprehension, criticism, even indignation. Therefore, we would like to clarify some facts:

1. The Giordano Bruno Stiftung criticized political Islam, initiated the worldwide movement of ex-Muslims and organized critical Islam conferences - long before the rightwing party AfD or Pegida (abbr. for "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the Occident") even existed. Nobody needs to enlighten us about the dangers of Islamic fascism. This knowledge was in fact carried into the social debate by the gbs and its advisory board members (e.g. Hamed Abdel-Samad; see also in this context the gbs video "10 Years of Ex-Muslims").

2. One must strictly distinguish between a critical-rational criticism of Islam, which we advocate, and a diffuse/manifest hostility towards Muslims, which we reject with equal determination (and this was exactly the point of #unteilbar). Antimuslimism is an expression of a group-focused enmity, which by no means restrains political Islam, but instead enforces it. In fact, Trump, Putin, Orban, the AfD, and Pegida act like blind puppets according to the guidelines of the Islamist terror handbook. We repeatedly emphasized this connection - and gbs curator Jacques Tilly captured this concisely in one of his carnival floats (see photo above): Even if Gauland, Storch, & co. certainly won't like it: Antimuslimists are not critical-rational "critics of Islam", but merely "useful idiots" of Islamist terror.

3. The gbs repeatedly and fiercely criticized traditional Islamic associations such as the Central Council of Muslims (ZdM) and established a counter-organisation in the form of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims (ZdE). But: If the ZdM officially commits itself with the demo #unteilbar to the "open society", then one should perceive this as an opportunity and take them at their word. Even if this is only a lip service, it still creates a helpful working foundation for further discussion. From now on one should ask the ZdM how they really adhere to the principles of the open society (freedom, equality, individuality, and secularity). This should be an interesting debate.

4. At this point the differences between a moralistic position of ultimate ends, which is only concerned with the "right attitude" (i.e. the position one advocates personally), and a position motivated by the ethics of responsibility, which focuses on the real political and ethical consequences of an action, become apparent. Ethicists of ultimate ends (moral rigorists) have so far hardly advanced the world, but ethicists of responsibility certainly have. One example: If 70 years ago only those nations had been allowed to sign the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" which truly respect human rights (the position of ultimate ends ethics), the UN declaration would not have been issued after all. But the fact that the UN charter was in existence from 10 December 1948 onwards led to significant changes in international politics (of course these changes did not go far enough, but that does not mean that we should simply ignore all progress since 1948). Ludwig Marcuse once beautifully put into words what this is all about (and his sentence, we would say, directs the way in which the ZdM's commitment to an open society should be dealt with in a responsible and ethical manner): "It is better that the good be written only on paper - than not even there."

(Michael Schmidt-Salomon, gbs spokesman of the board, October 14, 2018)

Addendum (October 15, 2018): The often wild comments, which have reached us after our statement regarding the demonstration, strengthened our assessment of how important it is to overcome political and ideological camp thinking. For this camp thinking leads to an "indignationalistic overbidding competition" (see the book "Die Grenzen der Toleranz" - "The Limits of Tolerance") – not to a solution-oriented analysis of the problems. In this context, we would like to recall the final declaration of the "2nd Critical Islam Conference", which was adopted more than 5 years ago (on May 12, 2013) and published in 2014 (after the first Pegida demonstrations) by the gbs as a print brochure. Those who would like to use the brochure "Selbstbestimmung statt Gruppenzwang: Gegen Islamismus UND Fremdenfeindlichkeit" ("Self-Determination instead of Group Compulsion: Against Islamism AND Xenophobia") in educational work can order it free of charge from the gbs.