Egyptian-German Scholar Hamed Abdel-Samad: Western Intellectuals' Refusal to Criticize Islam Reflects Racism; Europe Would Not Be What It Is without Criticism of Religion
Egyptian-German scholar Hamed Abdel-Samad said in a recent lecture that Islam has "turned hatred into a holy duty and war into a religious precept." The reticence of many European politicians and intellectuals toward criticizing Islam is the manifestation of a "reversed racism," he said, calling it the "racism of low expectations." On the issue of religious reform, Abdel-Samad said: "I do not believe in reforming religion. I believe in reforming people's minds and their relation to religion." He further said: "This continent would not have become the Europe we know today without criticism of religion, without the voicing of these doubts." Abdel-Samed addressed a conference held in Rome by the Adhoc organization of liberal modern thought on November 13, and the video was posted on Adhoc's social media outlets. For additional lectures by Abdel-Samad, see MEMRI TV clips #5457 - Egyptian-German Scholar Hamed Abdel-Samad: Our Hated Of Jews Has Poisoned Us; #5443 - German-Egyptian Scholar Hamed Abdel-Samad Analyzes The Psychology Of The Prophet Muhammad - Archival; #5356 - Egyptian-German Scholar Dr. Hamed Abdel-Samad Analyzes 'The Birth Defect Of Islam'
Hamed Abdel-Samad: The problem is not the existence of hatred or of wars, for they have existed throughout history. But Islam has managed to turn hatred into a sacred duty. It has managed to turn war into a holy duty, a religious rite, and a means to overcome poverty and depression. Yes. If you find yourself in a financial bind, wage Jihad for the sake of Allah, invade some place, and you are sure to collect some booty. If you are depressed and down in the dumps, wage Jihad for the sake of Allah, fall upon humanity. Maybe you'll get something out of it. So the story is not about hatred and wars. It is about turning this ugly thing into a virtue - turning hatred into a holy duty and war into a religious precept.
Islam is currently the only religion in which the term “non-believer” is not used to describe one's ideology, but instead, it is used to condemn a person to death.
Political Islam continues to spread and prosper because the Muslims claim that it is theoretically sound, and that the mistake lies in its implementation. This is the belief that this theory came directly from Allah, and the only problem is that human beings do not implement it properly. I have never encountered a theory that is as ill-implemented as this one. It has been ill-implemented for 1,400 years now. No creature is capable of implementing it correctly. Tell me where it is implemented properly. Nowhere.
Therefore, my dear friend, I do not believe in reforming religion. I believe in reforming people's minds and their relation to religion. I do not believe in reforming religion, but I do believe in reforming the minds of the believers and their relation to religion. You cannot mend a house that is on the verge of collapse. You cannot mend a boat that is about to sink. All you can do is warn the people that their house or their boat is dangerous. This is what I do in my books.
I believe in humanity, in the human race. For me, the human being is above ideology. The Islamists always try to present Islam and the Muslims as if they were a single entity. Sadly, European politicians make the same mistake, when they talk about the assimilation of Muslims. They think that the optimal way to assimilate the Muslims in European societies is through the Islamic organizations and through Islamic education at mosques. No!
The solution is to separate the human being from the ideology. The people should be liberated from this ideology, from the weight of religious authoritarianism. That is the solution. Doors should be opened for the liberation of women and men from the control of this religion. This is the solution, rather than trying to find a way around the texts, and tightening the screws in a way that conforms to the modern age. We have tried this for a long time. Taha Hussein tried it, and so did Ali Abdel Raziq, Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, [Mohammed Abed] Al-Jabri, Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, and Farag Foda, and many are still trying... But we always return to square one, because we do not discuss the disease that dwells in the heart of Islam itself.
So the solution cannot be to continue patting the backs of the religious clerics. What we need to do is to continue to raise doubts and to challenge [Islam]. Many people have renounced Islam, and many others are critical of Islam, even if they continue to be Muslims, but only a few have the courage to openly declare that they oppose these ideas. If everybody who thinks like me came out and said this, my life would not be in danger, Raif Badawi would not be in jail, and Ould Mkhaitir would not be on death row.
Any enlightenment movement in the world needs this kind of courage, the courage to say in public what we believe, especially since many of us live in Europe. It is very sad indeed that some European politicians and intellectuals, especially from the left, do not believe that criticism of Islam is necessary. On the contrary, they believe that such criticism jeopardizes coexistence. This continent would not have become the Europe we know today without criticism of religion, without the voicing of these doubts.
But some intellectuals view the Muslims from a “reversed” racist perspective... I call it “racism of low expectations.” Yes, it is the racism of low expectations. The Muslims are not like us, they seem to think. We cannot expect of them what we expect of ourselves. We can criticize Jesus, the Pope, any politician, or whatever we want, but the Muslims are like children. I'd better stay away from him so that he doesn't pelt me with stones. I, on the other hand, take the Muslims seriously, and that is why I criticize Islam. I see the danger that Islam poses to humanity and to the Muslims themselves. I believe that criticism of Islam is not merely a human right, but it is also a human duty.