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»Symbolic politics is not enough!«

Towards a new era in confronting Islamic fascism


"Behead all those who insult the Prophet!": Islamist protests in Sydney (Photo: Jamie Kennedy /

For many years, the Central Council of Ex-Muslims and the Giordano Bruno Foundation have been warning of the dangers associated with the totalitarian ideology of Islamism. Following the massacre of Israeli civilians and the jubilation among some parts of the local Muslim population, German politicians are now also calling for a clear stance against anti-Semitism and Islamism. These pithy words should now be followed by concrete action.

"After the Russian attack on Ukraine, Chancellor Scholz spoke of a 'new era', the Hamas attack on Israel should be viewed in a similar way," said gbs spokesman Michael Schmidt-Salomon after the terrorist strike on October 7, 2023. Although it is laudable that German politicians now intend to take more decisive action against Hamas supporters (and similar Islamist groups), it is necessary to "critically review the mistakes of the past". In this context, the foundation's spokesman appealed to the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Audit Office "to finally release information on whether rockets against Israel were in fact financed with German taxpayers' money" (see the foundation's press release "Terror Against Israel with German Support?" from May 20, 2021).

Disclosing such information could possibly prevent "German politicians from continuing to fall into the clutches of totalitarian Islamists out of a misunderstood multiculturalism", said Schmidt-Salomon. Unfortunately, this has happened again and again in the recent past. For example, prominent politicians such as German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Rhineland-Palatinate Minister President Malu Dreyer have supported campaigns by "aid organizations" that are closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

Legacy of the National Socialist reign of terror

The philosopher was highly critical of the study "Muslimfeindlichkeit - Eine deutsche Bilanz" ("Anti-Muslim Hostility - A German Assessment"), for which Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) was responsible and which was compiled in largely uncritical collaboration with Islamist organizations: "Undoubtedly, we must not tolerate hostility towards Muslims in our society! However, it is fundamentally wrong to discredit the necessary criticism of the totalitarian forms of Islam as racism. What we need is a strategy against both Islamism and anti-Muslimism, as we were already urging a decade ago. Now this very outcome, which I predicted back in 2016 in 'Die Grenzen der Toleranz' (eng.: 'The Limits of Tolerance'), has materialized: The attempt to sweep the dangers of political Islam, which is also virulent in this country, under the carpet has led to a strengthening not only of Islamism, but also of right-wing extremism in Germany. This disastrous policy, which undermines the foundations of an open society, should be brought to an end as quickly as possible."

A central problem is that many political leaders have still not fully understood the totalitarian nature of Islamism: "Islamism is not just a religious movement, but above all a fascist political movement whose eliminatory hatred of Jews is not least a legacy of the national socialist reign of terror." Unfortunately, the historical background is largely unknown to the public, which is why Schmidt-Salomon published a text on Islamic fascism after the Hamas attack which illustrates the massive influence of Nazi Germany on the emergence of this totalitarian variant of Islam.

Considering this, there should be no illusions: "Hamas' primary goal is not to improve the terrible living conditions under which the people in Gaza have to suffer. Hamas does not want to negotiate with Israel, it wants to destroy Israel! The deliberate slaughter of babies during the massacre on October 7 cannot be interpreted in any other way." Tragically, the "religious-nationalist forces in Israel have now reacted exactly how the Hamas strategists wished": "Innocent men, women and children in Gaza, who have nothing to do with Hamas and in some cases distance themselves very clearly from Islamism, have to pay the price in blood."

The judiciary's grotesque prioritization

Schmidt-Salomon believes that banning Hamas organizations in Germany is long overdue: "Organizations or individuals who incite violence or condone serious crimes could have been brought to justice long ago on the basis of existing laws - but they have to be brought to justice!" However, the German law enforcement authorities sometimes exhibit "a grotesque prioritization": "While harmless festival visitors are prosecuted simply because they are in possession of a few ecstasy pills, death threats against critics of political Islam are not seriously pursued." In this context, the gbs spokesman recalled particularly vulnerable people from the foundation's environment such as the writer Hamed Abdel-Samad (member of the gbs advisory board), lawyer Seyran Ateş (advisory board member of the Institute for Secular Law) and human rights activist Mina Ahadi (gbs scholarship holder), who are under threat by Islamists in their lives and physical safety.

Just recently, Mina Ahadi (see the interview with her in the current "bruno." annual magazine) received countless death threats because she had called for a boycott of a concert by Iranian rapper Amir Tataloo, who is loyal to the regime. Tataloo, who according to media reports performed with the Revolutionary Guard, advocated the brutal suppression of the Iranian protest movement and insulted the murdered Jina Mahsa Amini as a "whore", encouraged his followers to defend themselves against the call for a boycott. Since then, Mina Ahadi has been massively threatened ("You should take care of yourself from this second and be vigilant, because I'm coming with a knife"). The police, however, did not initially take action against the persons making the death threats, but against the chairwoman of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims, who had allegedly violated the rights of the concert organizer.

"This is a familiar pattern," explains Schmidt-Salomon. "The German judiciary has been repeatedly instrumentalized to crack down on critics of political Islam." Another striking example of this are the proceedings that are being conducted against critics of the "Islamisches Zentrum Hamburg" ("Islamic Center Hamburg", IZH) on the basis of Section 166 of the German Criminal Code: "Instead of banning the IZH, which is considered an 'instrument of the Iranian state leadership' by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, those who protest against this Islamofascist institution are prosecuted. Yet another reason to delete the outdated 'blasphemy paragraph' from the German Criminal Code" (see the article "Wer gefährdet den öffentlichen Frieden?" from "bruno." 2023).

Solidarity with critics of Islamism

As it stands, the chairman of the Giordano Bruno Foundation criticizes the West's "lack of solidarity with the critics of Islamism": "It is certainly a welcome gesture that Jina Mahsa Amini is now to be posthumously awarded the EU's Sakharov Prize to honor the Iranian protest movement. And yet, if no tangible measures result from such gestures, what value do they have? Symbolic politics is not enough! The EU has hardly taken any noticeable steps in recent years for its Sakharov Prize winner Raif Badawi, who is still being held in Saudi Arabia. If it weren't for organizations like the Giordano Bruno Foundation, which maintains a trust account for Raif Badawi among other things, Raif and his family would be completely on their own!”

Schmidt-Salomon considers this a "fatal mistake": "If we really want to take a clear stand against anti-Semitism and Islamism, just as the Chancellor urged, we must support those courageous Muslims and ex-Muslims who are risking their lives in the fight against Islamic fascism! Here too, lofty words are not enough, we must take action and put pressure on those in power. This also applies to the bloody conflict in the Middle East, where we should clearly stand by the peace-loving, freedom-oriented Israelis and Palestinians who are threatened by hardliners on both sides."

Deterrence through freedom

In domestic policy terms, Germany is urged to "emphasize the constitutional requirement of ideological neutrality in the fight against Islamism much more strongly than it has done in the past", said the foundation spokesman. This is why the attacks on the "Berlin Neutrality Law" send a "disastrous political signal": "It should be clear that schools and courtrooms are not places of religious practice. People who are unable to distance themselves from their religion or ideology even for the duration of their office hours prove that they do not have the necessary qualifications to teach on behalf of the ideologically neutral state or even to pass court judgments."

In general, the state measures announced by the German government - bans on organizations, stricter border controls and faster deportations - are not particularly suitable for effectively countering the dangers of Islamism and anti-Semitism: "We need a socio-cultural offensive at all levels of society, especially in the fields of education and upbringing, which defends the values of the democratic constitutional state against anti-freedom ideologies. We should enhance the open society's profile to such an extent that anti-rationalist, anti-liberal, anti-egalitarian people refrain from settling in this country from the outset." In his book "Die Grenzen der Toleranz" (Piper 2016, eng.: "The Limits of Tolerance”), Schmidt-Salomon spoke in this context of a strategy of "deterrence through freedom" and broke down the "threats to freedom of the open society" into a few, deliberately pointed core statements:

[...] "This is the country where you are allowed to believe whatever you want, but where we will teach your children from an early age that only worldviews that fully recognize human rights are acceptable! This is the country where you are allowed to claim that the earth was created only 6000 years ago, but where your children are taught the facts of evolution in elementary school so that they do not fall prey to the same misconceptions! This is the country where even children have rights that you must not ignore, where you must accept that men and women, religious and non-religious, heterosexuals, homosexuals and transsexuals have equal rights, even if you may have been so compromised in your emotional and cognitive development that you cannot comprehend this simple ethical principle of equality! Last but not least, this is also the country where you are allowed to nurture your own sexual neuroses as long as you do not harm anyone, but where your children are educated early on so that they have the chance to lead a free, self-determined life!"

The point should have become clear: an open society should not shamefully cover up its values, as the Italian authorities did in the case of the ancient, naked statues during the Iranian president's visit, but should confidently acknowledge them. [...] In essence, we should formulate the "threats to freedom" of the open society so unmistakably that as soon as any traditionalist even remotely thinks about setting foot on European soil, an imaginary welcome poster appears before their mind's eye, on which is written in large, golden letters: "Welcome to Europe - We are corrupting your children!"

Of course, the implementation of such a concept [...] would also push the domestic proponents of a strictly conservative worldview to the limits of their tolerance. But this is the price you have to pay as a member of an open society - especially if you have not yet truly embraced the 21st century in your deepest inner convictions.

[Michael Schmidt-Salomon: Die Grenzen der Toleranz. Warum wir die offene Gesellschaft verteidigen müssen. Piper 2016, p. 177ff. Translated from the German edition for this article.]