Ahmad Mansour is an expert on radicalization and extremism. In his new book “Operation Allah: How Political Islam Wants to Undermine Our Democracy” he shows what problems there are and how Germany should face them. FOCUS Online publishes an excerpt.
Today, ideological leftists are among the biggest supporters of political Islam. They no longer have much to do with the original left-wing ideas – universality, individuality, justice and criticism of religion. They engage in identity politics and talk about post-colonialism, but really only fight for their image.
They are convinced that they are morally superior. They are fighting against those who think differently – no, I don’t mean right-wing radicals here, but everyone who deviates from their views. Those who declare them opponents are denied the legitimacy to be part of the discourse.
Operation Allah: How political Islam wants to undermine our democracy
They are only interested in refugees, Muslims or people with a history of migration to the extent that they show their morality with their solidarity. If they had a genuine human interest in people, they would see them as equal members of that society and as individuals, and not as members of any particular group. You would see people who are heterogeneous, who can be an enrichment – but also a challenge.
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But no, migrants must be protected paternalistically as cuddly toys from themselves and from the right-wing extremists, whatever the cost. And so the ideologized leftists prevent discussions about grievances in these groups and not only accept women who are restricted in their self-determination or children who do not develop a healthy relationship with their bodies as collateral damage.
But what happens when the reality is politically incorrect? Can that be? The following example shows the imbalance in the factual discussion of certain topics: In a telephone interview I gave a journalist on the subject of integration at the end of 2021, I mentioned the high number of corona patients with a migration background. I immediately noticed the discomfort on the other end of the line. I understand that. In an increasingly black-and-white debate, as a journalist you don’t want to be the one who gives the wrong people the arguments for their hate, prejudice and racism. But to whom are we committed? The moral or the truth? Is it the job of a journalist to portray the truth critically, or is it about interpreting and presenting reality in such a way that any possibility of deriving racism or prejudice from it is nipped in the bud?
One-dimensionality, avoiding complexity and thinking in bubbles: These mechanisms have led to more and more polarization in our society, especially since the Corona crisis. Processes that have also been observed in the discussion about migration for several years. It is all the more understandable that migration and corona together result in an explosive mixture. While one side, intimidated and independent of the facts, is looking for a politically correct answer because it wants to prove once again that it is morally on the right side, the other side uses the speechlessness and uneasiness to confirm its enemy images and Blaming migrants for the entire pandemic.
Ahmad Mansour is a psychologist and author from Berlin. Born in Kfar Saba in 1976, he has Israeli and German citizenship. In 2018, Mansour founded MIND prevention (Mansour Initiative for Democracy Promotion and Extremism Prevention), which conducts workshops on extremism prevention. He works with inmates of correctional facilities and with refugees.
Mansour is also persistently opposed to anti-Semitism. In 2015 his book “Generation Allah. Why we have to rethink the fight against religious extremism” was published, followed in August 2018 by “Plain Text on Integration – Against False Tolerance and Scaremongering”. His new book “Operation Allah: How Political Islam Wants to Undermine Our Democracy” was recently published.
Both fringes treat migrants and Muslims as objects, but not as equal citizens. Both treat them as a homogeneous group. Both are not concerned with improving something about the challenges or the problems of these people. The victims are the migrants who have to be treated as intensive care patients.
But in order to find the causes of grievances and to learn from them, you also have to name uncomfortable truths. Because only those who examine all aspects can develop effective strategies that can save lives. To speak exclusively of language barriers and socio-economic reasons such as working and housing conditions in connection with Covid-19 is only one, the comfortable part of the truth. But is that all reality? Does anyone really still believe today that after a year of global pandemic there are still people who have not noticed the Corona and hygiene rules? Do you really need knowledge of German to understand the current situation? I mean no.
The uncomfortable part of the truth involves tight collectivist family structures, which create cohesion and offer support for the individual members, but can also become a risk in a pandemic. Large families mean more contacts, more encounters, and that in turn means a higher risk of infection. The uncomfortable part of the truth also includes cultural understandings of health and disease. Talking about certain physical ailments is shameful. You only go to the doctor when you can’t take it anymore. In many countries, regular check-ups are by no means common practice. Certain previous illnesses such as diabetes, obesity or cardiovascular diseases, which have an unfavorable effect on the course of COVID-19 disease, can also be associated with a cultural lifestyle: too much greasy or sweet food, too little exercise.
Ultimately, the relationship to the rule of law also plays a role. In many authoritarian states, this consists of distrust and means that government measures and rules are less consistently observed. All this knowledge is not a secret. You could use it to change something. To do this, however, we have to discuss the entire situation openly and without taboos. Denial definitely doesn’t help. Nor does it help to benevolently and paternalistically dismiss any discourse about political Islam as anti-Muslim racism. This is the easy way in which the identity-political left overlooks the fact that their ideology, like the Islamists, divides them into you and us, into oppressors and oppressed. For them, Muslims in Europe are among the oppressed who are being forced by white Europe to give up their identity and their faith. That is why they tend to protect Muslims across the board and give them safe spaces, so-called safe spaces. Integration rejects this ideology as a colonialist instrument.
She is not interested in individuals, but in groups – exactly what political Islam needs to gain more freedom. Why this is a problem is shown by the term participation, which has almost replaced integration. If integration is still spoken of today, then only in the sense of an obligation to deliver – namely an obligation to deliver on the part of the majority society. According to the motto: If the majority of society accepts these people unconditionally, understands diversity as an enrichment and enables the new citizens to participate, integration will come naturally. Attempts at conveying values or promoting these people are dismissed as racist. For example, members of the Green Youth have said to me several times: If we force our values on these people, then we assume that their values are worth nothing.
The fight against racism has been taken over by questionable theses. Instead of fighting for more equality and the reduction of prejudices, a radical ideology is being pursued and old prejudices are being spread again. The ideologized left divides the world according to colour, origin, gender, religious affiliation and according to minorities and majorities. It does not see the individual, their attitudes or actions. It categorizes, homogenizes, pigeonholes and does what racists do on the other side. A genuine individual consideration, a search for the truth, a curiosity about different perspectives are not present in this group. Solidarity no longer has anything to do with expertise here. Solidarity is only shown when the perpetrators fit into the image of the enemy. Self-reflection, factual analysis of an incident: none.
She hardly encounters any resistance. Not from the Federal Agency for Civic Education, not from politics and unfortunately not from the federal government either. An example: The cabinet committee for combating right-wing extremism and racism is developing extensive measures and forgets to mention the fight against Islamism and racism within minorities – precisely following the logic of identity politics. The approach of considering racism as a universal phenomenon is completely rejected, even though racism is not a modern-day phenomenon or a Western invention. It is a by-product of our information processing systems in the brain, our way of perceiving the environment. Racism is as old as humanity itself. Of course, this should not belittle racist attitudes. But racism can be cured: through the example of the parents, through upbringing, but above all through encounters. But not through segregation. Racism is found in Africa, just like in Arab countries, mainstream society, among the poor, among the rich, among natives, among foreigners.
But one does not want to see the human causes, but to make political capital out of them. Terms such as structural racism are used to justify this one-sided view. Of course, where certain groups hold power, there are more opportunities for discrimination against minorities. However, power relations are never rigid. The balance of power in schools in Berlin-Neukölln, for example, is different from that in Saxony. And those in Germany are different than those in Iraq or Afghanistan. They are different at universities than in large corporations. But the ideologized left perceives selectively. Issues that fit the anti-racism ideology are recognized, others are ignored. So it is that slavery is completely ignored in Muslim history, as is homophobia in Africa. Racism against Alawites or Kurds by Turkish nationalists, patriarchal structures among refugees, Islamism, all such topics must not appear in this dichotomous worldview.
Instead of winning people over to this fight against racism and educating them, other voices are pilloried and labeled as racist. The discourse, which is characterized by anger and threats, sometimes makes people fall silent – and that is exactly what is wanted. I’ve seen people just not open their mouths anymore because they couldn’t stand the psychological consequences any longer or they simply didn’t have the strength. Then who won? The democracy? no The winners are the radicals who pounce on issues that most of society shuns. The point is that people of different skin color or origin are always more clearly, always a natural part of a society: in schools, in business, in science, in the media – in all areas of life and work. I don’t achieve that if I claim to alone determine the discourse and decide what are legitimate opinions and only see opponents outside my bubble. I don’t achieve the goal of equality with theories that I adapt to my dogmas. This is not about the fight for a better society, for more justice, for a better world. On the contrary: the discourse is poisoned by no longer allowing any counter-arguments.