Egyptian intellectual Dr. Khaled Montaser said that while extremism was once considered to be the outcome of poverty or of one's environment, this does not explain extremism among Belgian or French Muslims. "There is a problem that we must acknowledge: our interpretation of our religion is in conflict with modernity," he said. While members of other religions, such as Buddhism, integrate into the societies in which they live, Muslims "are always screaming that they are the only ones in possession of the truth, that they are the best, the only ones to be spared the Hellfire." "We must admit… that there are elements in our books of heritage that incite to this," said Dr. Montaser, speaking on Al-Nahar TV on January 12.
Dr. Khaled Montaser: "A long time ago, when I was studying at university, I would pick up a book and it would say that sociologists like Saad Eddin Ibrahim say that it is all about poverty. They used to say that extremism is generated by poverty and ignorance. This was refuted with the appearance of Bin Laden, the richest man in Saudi Arabia, and of Ayman Al-Zawahiri, a surgeon with a villa in the Al-Maadi suburb."
Interviewer: "We don't have to go that far back. Who demonstrated in Rabea Al-Adawiya Square? Doctors from the American University and other professors."
Dr. Khaled Montaser: "So if it's not poverty, where does the problem lie? Some say that extremism is the outcome of the environment in which you live. So how do you explain Belgian Muslims who carry out bombings?
Interviewer: "It was revealed today that 17 French policemen had joined ISIS."
Dr. Khaled Montaser: "So how do you explain French Muslims (who join ISIS)? There is a problem that we must acknowledge: Our interpretation of our religion is in conflict with modernity."
Interviewer: "Could you explain that?"
Dr. Khaled Montaser: "People from all religions – Buddhism and all the others – know how to integrate into the societies they visit. We must ask ourselves why Muslims... I try not to generalize, but consider the following examples: When Muslims go abroad, they insist upon building minarets."
Interviewer: "They insist upon the 'Salafization' of that country."
Dr. Khaled Montaser: "They insist upon installing a microphone. Even though the mosques are spacious, they insist upon rolling out their prayer carpets and sitting on the sidewalk."
Interviewer: "In New York, they sell miswak dental twigs and whatnot..."
Dr. Khaled Montaser: "They insist on screaming their religion out loud: 'I am a Muslim!' They are always screaming that they are the only ones in possession of the truth, that they are the best, the only ones to be spared the Hellfire. They carry these notions with them wherever they go."
Interviewer: "In Denmark, we saw members of the Salafi Hizb ut-Tahrir standing in front of the ballot boxes and trying to convince Muslims not to vote, because Denmark is an infidel state."
Dr. Khaled Montaser: "I went to the Netherlands with a friend, and I encountered a Muslim from Morocco, who had 11 children. This man called to establish separate Islamic schools there. Where does extremism come from? People, we must admit--as our president has often said--that there are elements in our books of heritage that incite to this. We must admit this."