Egyptian-German scholar Hamed Abdel-Samad said that Islamic extremism and terrorism stems from the “core of Islam” – from its texts, its history of conquests, its founder, and its ideology – and that the problem does not lie only with the returning ISIS members, but with the “multiple layers of radicalization,” with which the governmental and Islamic structures are not equipped to deal. “There are thousands, tens of thousands, of them living among us,” he warned, calling to try ISIS fighters in international tribunals and to impose harsher punishments. Abdel-Samad, who was participating on a talk show on the Austrian Servus TV channel on February 21, talked about the dangers to the child’s worldview posed by the victim’s mentality, by violence in the family, by mixed messages on sexuality, and by the clash of cultures. He discussed the violence and lack of freedom suffered by Muslim women, saying: “How often has this imaginary god ruined people!”
Following are excerpts:
Hamed Abdel-Samad: Many Muslims from every Muslim country joined ISIS. The first group came from Saudi Arabia. I don't think Islamophobia exists there. The second group came from the middle class of Tunisia. There is not much Islamophobia there either. There is not a single Islamic country that is devoid of terrorism and of increasing radicalization. Saying that the main and only reason [for terrorism], in your view, is that these young people face Islamophobia is not the way to solve the problem. First, we can start with what Muslims are doing wrong – what is being preached [in mosques] here, the worldview that mosques are teaching these young people. [They teach them] to have a victim's mentality – and unfortunately, you are part of this. What kind of victim's mentality? This mentality encourages these people in their inferiority complex and their victim's mentality, and then it creates an illusion so that they will join Jihad – so they can save the Muslims, as well as themselves, and ultimately, reach Paradise. This ideology stems from the core of Islam and is the primary source [of terrorism]. Without this, there would be no Islamism or terrorism in any Muslim country or community anywhere in the world. There are no longer any countries on Earth that are free of Islamism and terrorism.
Host: But what you are saying is that the original reason for this movement is not a separate, extremist, Islamist part of Islam, but that it basically stems from the core of the religion itself. That's what you are saying.
Hamed Abdel-Samad: These are the texts of Islam, the history of Islam, and the role model and founder of Islam. ISIS is doing nothing different than Muhammad and his successors, at the time. They brought an ideology into the world, using weapons and the subjugation of peoples. As an Egyptian, I would never have been born a Muslim, if Muhammad's successors had not behaved like ISIS does. The same holds true for Morocco, Iran, and, in fact, anywhere Islam spread. The entire history of Islam is a history of conquest.
[Muslims say:] We are victims – if I cannot subjugate you now, I am your victim.
The problem is not that a few hundred [ISIS fighters] are returning, but that the governmental and Islamic structures here are not at all able to absorb these people. Radicalization is increasing on a daily basis. The state cannot monitor potential terrorists 24 hours a day. It's not possible. And then we wake up and learn that one of them drove a truck into a crowd. We wake up and discover that someone has committed a terrorist attack in a Christmas market. And we have to live with this. I suggest that we put these people before an international tribunal, and inflict harsh punishment on them. But they have realized that our judiciary is very lax in dealing with them. They know that there are various [legal] loopholes. They hate democracy, they fight against democracy, yet they take advantage of our democracy against us, in order to expand their infrastructures, and even in order to kill us.
I find it extremely dangerous that we are always talking about these "popular" 300 or 400 people, and the rest of the Muslims and Islam, in general, are okay. There are multiple layers of radicalization. There are ISIS fighters, and there are people who approve of this ideology, but did not go to Syria. There are thousands, tens of thousands, of them living among us. There is also a conservative Islamic theology, which does not directly say: "Go there and fight," but it shares the same worldview. It shares the same sentiment towards Christians, disbelievers, and so on, and it feeds this victim's mentality as well. Of course, there is also the violence these people experience within their families – when a child grows up and sees that the first strategy of communication between his father and mother is violence. In other words, the first solution to a problem is violence. The child grows up with this trauma, but also with this nature – violence is the first option in such a situation. When a child wants to deal with problems involving sexuality in a healthy way, this requires outlets. This is well known in psychology. When a child receives mixed messages from school, the family, and the mosque, that is extremely dangerous for their personal worldview. You need an established worldview. When the Quran or Islam sometimes says that tolerance is okay, altruism is okay, but in the next sentence there is another war, and [non-Muslims] are "sinners," "hypocrites," and "disbelievers," when the world is divided into believers and disbelievers – that is intrinsic to Islamic theology – then we actually do have a role model. The Prophet himself must not be questioned in Islam, although he was a warlord and treated women in a strange way. When this man is considered a role model by young Muslims, who study Kant, Spinoza and Voltaire – they go crazy.
Muslim Panel Member: You have now insulted Muslims on many many levels in a single sentence. First of all, if you want to criticize the Prophet Muhammad, you have the right to do so. I will not forbid you. But please do so objectively and honorably. You offend Islam on many levels, and you don't have to wonder why Muslims take this personally and reject your activity.
Hamed Abdel-Samad: I am criticizing a man who has been dead for 1,400 years. He was married to 13 women. He waged 80 wars in the last eight years of his life. He took women as prisoners of war. Why should an enlightened person in the 21st century not criticize this man? Why does he deserve immunity from criticism?
When we talk about violence against women in Islam, we have empirical data. Go to any women's shelter in Austria or Germany, and see who the majority are. You will be surprised! Read studies about women committing suicide, and ask yourselves why Muslim women commit suicide twice as much [as non-Muslim women]. There are empirical studies. It is always due to lack of freedom. The daughter wants to study somewhere and is not allowed, and she kills herself. She wants to marry a non-Muslim, but good old Islam, the imaginary god of Islam, has whispered that this is impossible. So love must die, and a young woman dies. How often has this imaginary god ruined people!