Sabatina James on Islamic parallel justice in Germany
In her book Sharia in Germany, the ex-Muslim Sabatina James, writing under a pseudonym, describes the informal establishment of an Islamic legal system in Germany, which - although it runs counter to German legal guidelines - local politicians also want to officially introduce.
Ms. James, you write in your book that the lives of a large number of the 4.3 million Muslims registered in Germany are determined more by their country of origin than their life in Germany. How do you determine this and how do you explain it?
Sabatina James: Most Muslims come from countries where the Sharia is socially recognized as God's law. Unlike in Germany, religion there decides what you eat, what to drink, whom to marry, how to treat women and minorities and which laws to follow. Islam there is not just a ritual practice of religion, but a socio-political system.
Which Muslim rejects the anti-democratic aspects of Sharia when entering Europe? The way of thinking of Muslims, their actions, their view of those who think differently, those who believe differently and women are still shaped by Islam. In addition, the Koran does not portray the integration of its followers into a Western society as particularly desirable. For example, in sura 5:51 he forbids Muslims to be friends with Jews and Christians.
Many followers of Islam in Germany live in parallel societies. In their residential areas, most of which are inhabited by migrants, they will find everything they need to live anyway: Arab doctors, "halal supermarkets", mosques and lawyers. Women in particular hardly come into contact with the German majority society and often have to adhere to the same code of honor as in their country of origin.
You are not free in a free country. Even the decision of their heart to marry the man they love is often not granted to them if he is the future non-Muslim. Even if this oppression does not affect all Muslim women, one may well ask why there are hardly any Muslim women who have a German as a life partner.
"Anyone who advocates a moderate Islam is betraying Islam"
Sabatina James: Because it is forbidden by classic Sharia law, both in the Muslims' country of origin and here with us. It is not democracy and Western values that determine law in the life of a Muslim, but the teachings of Muhammad and the Arab scholars. Yusuf Al Qaradawi, for example, who is probably the most influential Islamic theologian at the time. His television program is watched by over 60 million Muslims. It obliges Muslims in Europe to be permanently different and not to integrate under any circumstances. According to Qaradawi, anyone who represents a moderate Islam and affirms the Western ideals of freedom and democracy is betraying Islam.
People who listen to the scholar, read or and call up his fatwas via the Internet, this mission leads in the best case to a parallel society, in the worst case to fundamentalism.
"Mohammed and his role as legislator contradict our values and democracy"
In your opinion, what is the relationship between Islam and human rights and democracy?
Sabatina James: Classical Islamic law advocates the death penalty for critics of Islam and the execution of apostates and adulterers. A woman's testimony in court is half as much as a man's testimony. Women can be beaten for their chastisement. People who leave Islam face death. Their children can be taken away from them because, according to Islamic law, Muslim children cannot be raised by a non-Muslim. Their marriage becomes forcibly divorced, they lose their legal status, and are often rejected by their families and society. As an ex-Muslim, I experienced that firsthand.
Jews and Christians are not considered equal in Islam. They are second class citizens. Their houses must never be built higher than those of the Muslims, they must be recognizable by the public through their clothing and must not offend any Muslim feelings through their religion. To date, there is no rejection of these human rights violations from established Islamic theology, as this interpretation corresponds to the teachings of Muhammad and early Islam. Democracy and civil liberties do not come about by chance. You need ideological justifications with which the majority of a society can identify.
As long as established theology continues to teach Sharia and the example of Muhammad as a guide for our age, it will remain difficult to see developments in areas of human rights in Islamic countries. Mohammed and his role as legislator contradict our values and democracy.
Is Islam prone to patriarchal structures and values - and if so, why?
Sabatina James: A study by the Pew Research Center shows: Ninety percent of the 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide believe that a wife must always be obedient to her husband. I find that alarming. In patriarchal or fundamentalist Islamic groups, women are considered the property of the man. The reputation of the family, the so-called honor, depends on their behavior. The woman must behave according to the rules of Islam or the clan to which she belongs. Otherwise the family will lose face to the community. The individual and their interests do not play a major role.
"Forced marriage is used to regulate the sexuality of girls"
What about women from migrant backgrounds who grew up in Germany?
Sabatina James: But these women often have a strong longing for freedom. They want to make their own decisions. The family's fear of a possible "loss of honor" is then great. Many do not want the female family members to become too western or to have a boyfriend. They believe in a connection between their honor and the virginity of their daughters. For example, they use forced marriage to regulate the sexuality of their girls. The aim is to get young women back on track and to protect them from the revealing western lifestyle through the control of their husbands. If they do not meet these expectations, disciplinary measures are initiated. Violence and psychological pressure are often the first means of "chastisement". In extreme cases, the victims are even executed in the name of "honor".
How widespread are forced marriages in this country in the Islamic communities?
Sabatina James: Women from religious migrant families are the most common victims of reluctant marriages. And almost always they are Muslim women. This is confirmed by a study published by the Family Ministry in November 2011. Accordingly, a total of 3443 cases of forced marriages were registered in 2008 alone.
How many there are, nobody knows - because the number of unreported cases is much higher. Most of the time, the victims remain silent out of shame or ignorance of their rights. Almost a third of those affected in Germany are 17 years of age or younger. Around 40 percent are between 18 and 21 years old. About 83 percent of these girls and women come from Muslim homes. Almost half of those affected have German citizenship, and a good third were born in Germany.
Are there crimes against Germans that are comparable to honor killing, but which are named differently ("domestic violence" et cetera)?
Sabatina James: There are big differences between domestic violence and violence in the name of honor. A German who beats his wife or children knows that he is doing something morally reprehensible. The society in which he lives also condemns domestic violence as a crime. Morally and socially, violence against women is rejected in Western culture. The victims receive help. The perpetrators are punished.
Unfortunately, this is different in Islamic societies. If a woman is beaten there, one looks to the victim to blame, according to the motto: If she were obedient, he would not hit.
Neither the perpetrator nor society regards it as morally reprehensible for a father to abuse his daughter because she is no longer a virgin or has a boyfriend. The victim receives no help within the Islamic patriarchal society. The perpetrators will not be held accountable.
You write that several Muslim family clans in major German cities have a high affinity for organized crime. What does this alignment have to do with religion?
Sabatina James: In Berlin alone in 2009 around eighty percent of the 550 intensive offenders known to the police had a Muslim migration background. The family clans do not adhere to the German legal system but follow their own laws. Many of them mix old archaic tribal rules of their culture of origin with religion in a dangerous way. They have no respect for German law and interpret the Koran as they wish.
Here the Islamic associations have to admit their failure. They watch as their fellow believers practice Islamic parallel justice by so-called justice of the peace without addressing them. Through criminal family clans and their tribal justice, we are making our country politically unstable.
"It seems that Western civilization has become too boring for politicians and German judges who flirt with Sharia law"
German politicians can certainly imagine introducing Sharia courts in Germany. This has already happened in England. What do you have to complain about? Is the attempt to bring the offices, which are not covered by any state law and which are exercised by private Sharia judges in the local communities, under state control - and have German judges not long ago pronounced judgments based on Sharia law?
Sabatina James: That sounds like a desire to give in to Islam. Sharia courts like in England encourage abuse of women. Haitham al-Haddad, one of the British Sharia judges, who is also the advisor to the Islamic Sharia Council, publicly stated in an interview that a man should never be asked why he beats his wife. British Muslim women who have been subjected to violence have complained that they feel betrayed by Britain. They came here to flee the violence - and now it's even worse than in their country of origin.
Do we want to live in a culture where women are treated like that? Do we really want our countries to become as unfree as the Islamic states? Isn't it a matter of course that people who come to our country obey the local laws?
If there are migrants who reject our rule of law, we must not consent to them by introducing Sharia courts. Rather, we have to defend our freedom so that it can continue to exist. It seems that Western civilization has become too boring for politicians and German judges who flirt with Sharia law. Maybe they should spend a few years in the Sharia zone of the Pakistani Swat Valley to appreciate freedom again.
"Bankruptcy of the European Church"
Salafism and IS have become a kind of pop phenomenon among some Muslim youth. Can you explain that to yourself?
Sabatina James: Salafism is not only a trend among Muslim youth, but also for Germans converting to Islam. In our secularized society we are materially rich, but emotionally poor. Our consumer society feeds the stomach, but lets the soul starve to death. In this spiritual vacuum, radical Islam has particularly great opportunities.
Young people in particular are often looking for meaning and orientation. Many want to look for a new family in our highly individualized society in which families are unstable. A kind of brotherhood. So go on a search for God and fellowship. And let's be honest: It's easier these days to find a Salafist on Germany's streets who explains the Koran to you than a Christian to whom faith in Jesus is sacred.
I got to know dropouts from jihad. When I asked them why they chose radical Islam, almost everyone gave me the same answer - "I wanted to believe in God and the extremists were the only ones who could tell me who God is." That sounds like a declaration of bankruptcy for the European Church. But it's the reality. We in Europe no longer know what our identity is, what we believe and what we stand for.
Do you see a real security threat in the German Salafist scene?
Sabatina James: Salafism is more dangerous than other currents of Islam because it strives for conditions like in the times of Muhammad and offers the intellectual tools for jihadists in Europe. An ideology that justifies violence against women and those who think differently is, of course, a threat to our security. If we want to fight Islamism, we have to train our security authorities in what motivates the Islamists ideologically. Only those who understand the radicals ideologically can protect us from them.
How is this scene financed?
Sabatina James: I think Puritan Islam gets support from Saudi Arabia, or Qatar.
"We look for solutions without understanding the problem"
How does the West contribute to the emergence of Islamist organizations like IS?
Sabatina James: There is no easy answer to this difficult question. I am not a specialist in foreign policy and there are people who have a better insight here. Still, I have an opinion on it: I believe that Europe and the US have been too naive about the jihadists. We supported the rebels in Syria and celebrated them as freedom fighters. The same gang calls themselves IS today and is wreaking havoc. These criminals behead, rape and crucify people - and there is no help in sight for their victims. We here in the West are meanwhile thinking about the weather or looking forward to the next TV series.
Our politicians, on the other hand, see the Islamic State as nothing more than a small group of psychopaths who are said to have no religious nature. Above all Barack Hussein Obama, who even described the IS as "un-Islamic". We are misled by such statements. We look for solutions without understanding the problem. Because in reality the atrocities of the IS are consistently implemented Islamic theology according to the teachings of Muhammad. IS wants to move our world back to the age of Muhammad. Whoever disguises this helps the terrorists.
"I miss the uprising of moderate Muslims"
How did the Islamic institutions in Germany distance themselves from Hebdo murders and the acts of IS?
Sabatina James: What strikes me about the Islamic institutions in Germany is that they like to complain about Islamophobia but at the same time do not take responsibility for the Muslims who use violence against people of different faiths. I miss the uprising of moderate Muslims against the murderers of Charlie Hebdo and IS. The voice of the moderates is very low compared to that of the terrorists. Why do moderate Muslims feel offended when cartoons of Muhammad are shown but not when people are killed and enslaved in the name of Muhammad? The "This has nothing to do with Islam" talk on German talk shows doesn't help either.
They should proclaim this in the mosques and convince their fellow believers of it. It is time for a historically critical examination of Islam to take place within established Islamic theology.
In your book you criticize the construction of mosques in Germany. Are you not entering the right fairway with this? What is your attitude towards the right-wing Islamophobes, Geert Wilders, Pegida, the FPÖ et cetera?
Sabatina James: Who for the sake of political correctness Hiding human rights violations in Islamic culture, hands the subject over to the right. I criticize the original Islam because I believe that with its legal system, Sharia, it is the worst form of racism. My grandfather was an imam. I learned to read the Koran in a mosque. And then saw how violence against women is justified by the same Quran. If the mosque were only a house for ritual religious practice, I would have no problem. But unfortunately it is far too often the source of radicalization for many Muslims.
In my homeland of Pakistan, I saw women brutally abused, murdered and locked in prisons for adultery. Sharia is the worst form of gender injustice. I am haunted every day by the cry for help from people who suffer from these laws.Do you know what it means to lose your home and family just because you have left Islam? Can you imagine how it feels when you can't decide for yourself who to love? Have you ever felt the pain in your heart because you are haunted by your family and society just because you think differently from them? I've experienced it, and like me, thousands are. I speak for them. The love for them drives me. And I really don't care who feels offended or confirmed by it.
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