Europe risks importing an Islamic cultural crisis unless it carefully manages the challenges posed by European migration, according to a German-Turkish writer.
Zafer Senocak, born in Turkey but living in Germany since 1970 having moved there as a child, is a prominent commentator on German multiculturalism, cultural identity and the interaction of Turkish and German culture. Writing for Deutschlandradio Kultur, he set out his concerns about importing an Islamic cultural crisis as part of the wider migrant crisis in Europe.
“In the Islamic world we have an incredible number of victims. It is not just a question of the battle between the West and Islam – I think that is a load of absurd nonsense! It is much more a battle going on within Islam itself. And unfortunately Muslims once again are refusing to accept this, just as they always have done. An excellent example of this was provided by the Turkish Prime Minister, who has in fact done a lot for his country, but did not have the courage to say that we should take a critical look at the religious sources, at the religious background. It is not always America and Israel who are to blame for the ills of the Islamic world – it is more their own culture. When ever anybody tries to discuss this in Islamic cultural circles, it turns into a highly problematic subject – and this is a condition that can and will prevail for quite some time to come.
Now he is warning Germany that the very problem he identified abroad risks crossing the border with Muslim migrants.
Writing positively about Germany’s “wave of helpfulness” to distressed migrants arriving in cities like Munich, Mr Senocak says that should merely be the starting point for debate. He believes maintaining a sceptical questioning attitude does not equate to xenophobia: “Not every concern about the future of their own country means throwing up barriers. On the contrary, there are very well justified, urgent questions.”
Mr Senocak lists questions such as will Germany become a “warzone” and will “bloody conflicts” from the Middle East travel in with refugees, citing the fact previously reported by Breitbart London that migrant camps have already seen rioting.
In part he puts the fights in migrant camps down to the conditions – overcrowding and lack of privacy being key issues – also saying the aggression seen there is a result of “a lot of young men” numbered among those in them.
Mr Senocak counsels against following the advice of those who recommend segregating migrants based on religion – a “travesty” in his view. Dividing people according to their faith, he argues, would mean lending credence to the causes of war which made people leave their own countries in the first place. He adds: “It would be a bad sign for the future. How should people be integrated into a foreign society, if they can just mix with themselves?”
The author urges that those coming to Europe seeking to import their battles rather than looking for “peace and quiet” should feel the full force of the law. He does not diminish the effort needed to allow people to settle in a free society without abandoning that which is sacred to them, warning that individuals are moulded by the countries they leave behind:
“They are nourished by the world they come from, from the culture of this world. From the violence in this culture. The intolerant interpretation of Islam has set parts of the world on fire. But Islam in Germany must not become an incendiary device. This is not an easy task, not a foregone conclusion.”
Mr Senocak contrasts religious freedom in Germany, “also the freedom of non-believers” which allows critical analysis of others’ beliefs, to that found in interpretations of Islam:
“In the Islamic world many countries retain the death penalty for those leaving the faith. It is also not possible to convert from Islam to another religion. As long this is so, and significant new interpretations of Islam do not change that, the people who believe in Islam, not just refugees, remain a risk for any free society.
“This has nothing to do with hostility to Islam or exaggerated fear of Islam. It is the logical consequence of a cultural crisis within the Islamic world, which can justifiably be denied access to Europe.”
Mr Senocak points out that Europe itself was once a continent of “religious wars” and that German giants of the Enlightenment such as Lessing once had to justify their critical philosophy, but that was in the 18th century. Now, he says, if Europeans are over-sensitive in their reaction to jihadists, that is to be welcomed.