„Islamisierung ist keine Frage des Ob, sondern eine Frage des Wann“
Cicero Magazine for Political Culture, 12th September 2018. Interview with Laila Mirzo regarding her book, Nur ein schlechter Muslim ist ein guter Muslim : Über die Unvereinbarkeit des Islam mit unserer Kultur (Only a Bad Muslim is a Good Muslim : On the incompatibility of Islam with our culture).
Islam does not fit in with Europe, writes Laila Mirzo in her book, just published. The expert on Islam warns against the jihad, Sharia law and the process of Islamization in Germany. In an interview, she explains why liberal Islam has little chance against violent forces.
Laila Mirzo coaches in intercultural relations and, as an expert on Islam, draws attention to the dangers in the conservative practice of Islam. As the daughter of a German mother and a Syrian-Kurdish father, she came to Bavaria at the age of eleven. Since 2002 Mirzo has lived in Austria. The authoress converted to Christianity in 2007.
Cicero Magazine : Frau Mirzo, in your book, Only a Bad Muslim is a Good Muslim, you support a thesis that is also put forward by Thilo Sarrazin in his latest work: Islam does not fit in with Europe. How so?
Because unreformed Islam always implies the Sharia. Ask any devout Muslim. The Sharia is the user’s manual of Islam, and it didn’t just fall from the sky, but was derived from the holy scripture of Islam, the Koran. The Sharia is a radical social blueprint, governing all of public and private life. It legitimizes oppression of women, hatred of Jews and homosexuals, and the brutal practice of female circumcision, even extending to the mutilation of babies. All of this happens not just somewhere in distant countries, but sometimes also here in Germany. How can this be compatible with our European values of humanism, the rule of law, and equal rights?
But there is now a majority of liberal Muslims in Germany. Do they not count?
I don’t dispute that many Muslims are liberal. But so-called ‘European’ Islam is unfortunately much too weak. It is very far from having majority representation. On the contrary, reform-mosques like that of women’s rights activist Seyran Ates, are the exception. Instead of a reformation of Islam, we are increasingly seeing a conformist Europe that caves in to orthodox Muslims. We have come to accept that a man can refuse to shake a woman’s hand, that girls are not allowed to take swimming lessons, and that schools purchase burkinis. Unfortunately, this only increases the pressure on liberal Muslims.
How does that pressure occur?
It can be felt quite concretely in everyday situations. Pressure is exerted on parents who let their daughters go out in public without a headscarf, or attend swimming lessons in ordinary swimsuits. But pressure also comes from other young people. At many schools, meanwhile, an Islamist youth culture has developed amongst male teenagers: a haram generation who take the Sharia as their model and torment their classmates. But the local Islamic associations are also exerting pressure, which of course they would never admit publicly. This puts many liberal believers in an invidious position: they can appear not to be good Muslims if they want to discard their headscarves, or express their homosexuality. All this culminates in the honour-killings, which alas are not uncommon in Germany.
Where do we encounter Sharia in Germany?
Probably the most striking example was in Wuppertal in 2014, when self-appointed “Sharia Police” patrolled the streets. Some urban districts in Germany have so-called Justices of the Peace, who are consulted in family and divorce matters. These are self-proclaimed judges without legal training or state authority. The former ARD [public broadcaster] journalist and lawyer, Joachim Wagner, describes these machinations in his book, Richter ohne Gesetz [Judge without Law], with examples from Berlin, Essen and Bremen. There are mosques in which many polygamous marriages are conducted in secret. The children from these illegal second and third liaisons are being supported by the state. That’s systematic social fraud. For example, when a woman wants a divorce because of domestic violence, settlement is by no means certain, because physical chastisement is permitted in Islam. This represents the kowtowing to the Sharia, of a state founded on the rule of law. There must be no cultural discount.
What effect does that have on German mainstream society?
For one thing, there is above all the perceived insecurity amongst women: what am I allowed to do now, is this dress suitable at this time of day? Women are beginning to organize themselves so that they do not become victims. For another, I notice a self-imposed muzzling. If a party were formed in which women received only half a vote, from which homosexuals and Jews were excluded from the outset, and which killed its dropouts — we would never tolerate such a thing! But that very same ideology comes dressed as religion, and that’s why we mistakenly believe we should not criticize it.
And yet, the Islamic scholar Mouhanad Khorchide stands for an open Islam. He sees the potential for love and mercy. What do you say to him?
Even if I sweep aside the whole of the violence-glorifying Surahs [Koranic verses], there still remains alongside the Pillar of Islam that is the Koran, that of Muhammad and his Life — which is almost as important and as permeated with political violence and subjugation. Of course, I also hope for reforms, but you have to distance yourself from Muhammad’s crimes. What is needed is for a kind of ‘religious regicide’ to be performed on the figure of the Prophet. But there’s a problem here: the creed constantly depends on him.
But are not you emphasizing too strongly the Koran’s violence-glorifying Surahs, while denying the peaceful ones their due weight?
Not at all. The problem with the tranquil verses lies in the Koran’s construction. The Koran can be read as a recital of the evolution of violence. It is roughly divided into two parts: the Mecca-Koran and the Medina-Koran. The Mecca-Koran begins harmlessly enough with Muhammad’s sermons; but the larger and more influential the Medina community became, so also the more radical and intolerant. As a result, many of the Surahs contradict each other. First, for example, it is stipulated that no-one can be forced to believe, but then death is demanded for unbelievers. So how can we say what is binding now? This is where the so-called ‘Abrogation’ comes into play: it is only the later verse that has authority. That is, any preceding more peaceful Surah is potentially “abrogated” — repealed — by a later, more radical one.
Progressive-sounding verses in the Koran are therefore only half the story?
In most cases, yes! It makes me furious when outsiders are only ever thrown snatches of the Koran, in which brotherhood between Christians, Jews and Muslims is preached and killing forbidden. But that is incredibly mendacious! And after each act of terror, the same old story: all this stuff has nothing to do with Islam. When I hear that, for me it’s like denial of the Holocaust! The Islamic umbrella-organizations should actually stand up and say: Yes, this killing has something to do with Islam! Instead of which, they whip out of their pockets Surah 5, Verse 32: “Whoever kills a man, kills all of Humanity.”
What’s wrong with this verse?
It’s torn out of context. It is actually addressed specifically to the Jews: the verse comes from the Torah. The ukase against killing therefore applies only to the Jews, not to the Muslims. Muslims are not allowed to kill other Muslims, only infidels. And even if one wished to ignore this context, the Abrogation arrives immediately in the next verse: “Behold, the reward of those who oppose Allah and His Messenger is (…) only that they be killed or crucified, or mutilated in hand and foot, or be driven out of the country”. And so, a Muslim may kill an unbeliever at any time, and go on to reap his reward for it in Paradise.
A Christian could obtain permission to kill from the Old Testament. Do you not see the danger of putting a whole community under general suspicion?
I hope I haven’t done that with my book. I distinguish between liberal Muslims and Orthodox Muslims who adhere literally to the text. The fundamentalists are causing problems, and that’s something you have to protest about. Of course, a Christian can be radicalized through a too-literal reading of the Bible. However, there is a crucial difference between Christianity and Islam: the first has embraced the Enlightenment, the other is stalled culturally in the 7th century.
And such a mentality demands the jihad of its followers, as they write in their book. What does that mean?
Islam divides the world into two halves: the House of Islam and the House of War. The latter includes those areas where Islam is not yet the state religion. The Koran explicitly prescribes the Jihad; it is the secret Sixth Pillar of Islam. If you want to be a good Muslim, you must also support the ‘little jihad’, to eventually turn the world completely into a House of Islam. The ‘little jihad’ is not like the big jihad, which is a kind of spiritual struggle waged against one’s own human weaknesses. The little jihad is the fight for Islam with “Blood or Kind”. That is, either through physical struggle or financial support.
And Europe is on its way to the House of Islam?
In the regions where Islam is still in the minority, it is relatively inconspicuous. But everywhere in the centres of population where there is a concentration of Muslims, disputes are affecting social harmony and testing tolerance, because of the demands placed on them. In Brussels, a city whose population is 17% Muslim, the Islam Party has already called for gender-segregation on public transport. Such demands can only increase. In Germany, too, we already have a party that is imbued with Islam: the Alliance for Innovation and Justice (Bündnis für Innovationen und Gerechtigkeit, BIG). Although its demands are not so radically formulated, you can nevertheless read on their website, next to the blessings for the month of Ramadan: “Our standard is our ethical principles and our values, not those of others”. In my opinion, ethical principles and the resulting values are universal. Ethics is not determined by religion and ideology.
Their jihad-thesis goes even further: they write that there is also a ‘birth jihad’. That is, the wombs of Muslim women are also weapons. Are large Muslim families, then, hostile to the Constitution?
No, of course I don’t say that. Having children is not a crime. But it is a fundamental principle, that Allah likes to see the Muslim community grow. Incidentally, Muslim women are the reason why birth-rates are rising again in Germany. And as the Muslim community grows, its political influence will also increase indefinitely. In Austria, the number of Muslims has doubled to 700,000 since the last census in 2001. Islamization is not a question of whether, but a question of when.
This is reminiscent of Michel Houllebecq’s bestseller, Submission, in which he describes the transformation of secular France into a [Muslim] theocracy. Do you think that is plausible?
Absolutely. You need only look at Turkey. Who would have thought ten years ago that it would change so radically? Turkey was also a secular state, where there was a functioning party system. The country was about to join the EU. That is the cautionary example. We must not rest on our laurels — the rule of law, and democracy. These freedoms must be defended every day — even in Germany.
A study by the University of Münster concludes that more than three-quarters of young people of Turkish extraction do not even go to the mosque. Is it not, then, more likely that Muslims living here will become secularized?
We must hope so. Of course, not going to the mosque does not in itself mean that you do not live by a radical ideology. We are currently experiencing unruly adolescents who drink alcohol, maybe also smoke pot, deal drugs, or go to the brothel, but who sometimes still forbid their sisters from meeting with a German.
You speak from personal experience?
Yes, I visited my brother in Syria in 1994. He is a non-believer, yet he threw me to the ground, beat me and threatened to slaughter me if I ever came back. The sad thing is that even if he did that, he would only get half a year in jail because he could justify it as an honour-killing, since his sister engages with non-believers and maintains a Western lifestyle. Friends, acquaintances and relatives would probably even have slapped him on the back for the murder.
In 2007 you were baptized. Have you since been treated with hostility?
My relatives in Syria do not officially know about [my baptism] yet. But of course now it can’t be concealed anyway. I am prepared for anything that may happen when my book comes out. I have been pursuing my critique of Islam for two years. I’ve had my share of hatred and the worst insults. A proverb says, Who cannot attack the thought, attacks the thinker.
You’ve studied Islam extensively here. What do you expect from the Muslims in Germany?
Finally, to start talking openly about the violent Surahs. And to stop hiding or covering them up. They must finally be on the agenda at a conference on Islam. I wish there were more honesty in the discussion. If you want to improve something, you have to look squarely at its worst aspects: at the torment of mutilated girls and women, at the suffering of homosexuals and the despair of oppressed women. Politicians could start by reading the Koran, and not just the few little bits of it that are customarily trotted out. I was the same: until a few years ago, I was still defending Islam. Until, that is, I read the Koran for the first time cover to cover. That was a bad time for me, as my lifelong illusions came to light. ⇒ Cicero