Yet stigmatizing non-violent Islamists through exclusionary policies, aggressive surveillance and indiscriminate mosque raids will unfortunately do nothing to isolate radical Islamists and eliminate their alien threats. While it is true that non-violent Islamists can become radicalized, this radicalization is not automatic. "The 'radicalization scenario' of the Interior Ministry sees a non-existent slippery slope," said Dr. Werner Schiffauer, university specialist and Interior Ministry consultant. "The real slope is not gradual; rather, it is event-ba sed and personal" [6]. Indiscriminate crackdowns and arbitrary humiliations might drive non-violent Islamists into the hands of the radicals. Indeed, Germany is pondering the specter of "an enemy within," a fifth column of disaffected Islamic parallel societies that threaten its "Germanness." Ever since the discovery of the Hamburg-based terrorist cell at the heart of the September 11 attacks, there has been a growing fear about a perceived Islamist wave sweeping across Germany, seeking to re-Islamize its Muslim minorities, deepening their presumed status of "extraterritoriality" and expanding their "culture-based crime." Warnings about the transformation of Germany and the rest of Europe into an anti-Christian, anti-Western "Eurabia" and the emerging dawn of "the darkness of a new barbarism" that threatens to overtake the symbols of the nation and subjugate a destructively passive and self-doubting population, are rampant in political and media rhetoric (Spiegel Online International, January 25; Der Spiegel, February 6, 2006). The fear of the "unwanted Germans" living fraudulently and infiltrating the citadels of Germanness prompted a bishop emeritus of Germany's Independent Lutherans to express his anxiety in striking terms: "I fear that we are approaching a situation resembling the tragic fate of Christianity in northern Africa in Islam's early days." Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble warned in dire terms of the threat of Islamist terrorism: "It is undeniable that the greatest threat to life and limb comes from Islamist terrorism" [7].

The Discomfort of Strangers

The rhetoric about the rising tide of fundamentalism overtaking Germany engenders only more fear and paranoia of the young, alienated Muslims that are poor, ill-educated and tempted by crime and radical Islam. The 2006 Pew poll found Germans as the most concerned in Europe about Islamic fundamentalism, with 82 percent of the general public saying that they are very (40 percent) or somewhat (42 percent) concerned. Some 58 percent expect "a coming conflict with the Muslim population" and 42 percent believe that Islamic terrorists blend in with the Muslim population [8]. The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights 2004 report on intolerance and discrimination against Muslims in the European Union found that more than 80 percent of Germans surveyed in 2004 associated the word "Islam" with "terrorism" and "oppression of women" (IHF Press Release, Vienna, March 7, 2005). A substantial number of Germans admit to being preoccupied with anything Muslim. A German judge, Christa Datz-Winter, has only recently provoked a public outcry by a ruling that confounded even Muslims when she cited the Quran in deciding a case of domestic violence. Der Spiegel magazine was quick to feature the story on its cover with the sensational title, "Mecca Germany: Silent Islamization."

The ruling convinced many of the need to defend the country from an alien cohesive body of Muslims that are imbued by separatist beliefs and guided by a supposedly totalitarian Sharia that rigidly controls people's consciences and bodies (Der Spiegel, February 6, 2006). Some critics of the perceived collaborationist posture of the judicial system in the name of cultural sensitivity urge the government to adopt more aggressive policies to protect German culture and recognize a cultural invasion by an anti-modern, medieval force (Perlentaucher, January 24). Any accommodation toward religious faith is seen as a dangerous betrayal of the values of the enlightenment and an appeasement of an Islamist foe whose rise is said to resemble the rise of the Third Reich (Die Zeit, March 18, 2004; Welt am Sonntag, July 24, 2006). This hard-line exclusionary rhetoric which begins with getting the Muslim monolith in line with the universalist and static secular culture of the superior "real Germans" leads inevitably to "cultural fundamentalism." There is a disturbing belief that good Muslims are the ones who do not practice their religion and suppress their Muslim identity. The emphasis on Muslims' loyalty to Germany's "fundamental principles and values" is the right of every country, but requirements of ideological conformity (are you truly with us or against us?) with moral dilemmas are difficult to comprehend and even violate the German constitution which stipulates "freedom of faith and of conscience, and freedom of creed, religious or ideological" (Expatica, January 11, 2006).

The Loyalty Test

The new citizenship test for Muslims, introduced by the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg in 2006, is supposed to find out if a person shares German principles and values and acts as a social contract between Germany and its citizens. The irony of the test is that many Germans would fail to pass it. As Lale Akgün pointed out in an editorial for the Berlin newspaper Taz, "the current German pope would fail due to his opinions on homosexuality and sexual equality." Volker Beck, a Green Party politician, claimed that even Interior Minister Heribert Rech and many conservative politicians in the CDU would not pass the test (Expatica, January 11, 2006). Given that a large number of Muslims in Germany were denied easy access to citizenship until very recently, their existence in Germany is increasingly becoming conditional upon the espousal of particular beliefs and fidelity to values that even the most patriotic Germans might not know or agree with. It is counter-productive to threaten potential ostracism through naturalization and a foreigners' law as punishment for the "sin" of refusing to adopt an imposed ideological uniformity on moral dilemmas that looks more like absolute assimilationism than the integration that conservative politicians such as Wolfgang Schäuble, Ronald Pofala, Edmund Stoiber and Günther Beckstein seem to call for. This paradox of wanting integration, yet making it very difficult to attain reflects "the fundamental tension between an ethno-cultural vision of Germany that predominated until recently and a genuine, new desire to address the realities of a diverse society" [9]

. The Path Ahead

Pressures from within (Islam) and without (globalization and European integration) have made Germans feel apprehensive about their national identity and culture. The country is visibly struggling to mitigate the potentially explosive mix of nationalism and fear of the Muslim "stranger," while defining citizenship for its marginalized and disenfranchised immigrants. The issue is no longer the building of defensive citadels of "Germanness" since the country has finally come to grips with the reality that the Gastarbeiter (guest workers) are there to stay. The challenge for Germany today is to define what kinds of values are essential for the country's secular model of society and what are negotiable.


1. "Islam and Identity in Germany," International Crisis Group, March 14, 2007. For the full report, see

2. About 75% of the 3.2 to 3.4 million people of Muslim background in Germany come from Turkey or are of Turkish origin. The rest are: 200,000 Bosnian/Herzegovinian, 100,000 Iranian, 80,000 Moroccan, 70,000 Afghan, German Converts and 800,000 citizens (mostly former Turkish nationals). Around 95% are of non-Arab origin. This diverse population can be divided along ethnic lines: religion (Sunnis, 80 percent), (Alevites, 17 percent), (Shiites, three percent), degree of religiosity (secularists and pious Muslims) and political status (German citizens and non-citizens). The German Conference on Islam (DIK), Federal Ministry of the Interior.

3. "Islam and Identity in Germany."
4. This movement has made its goal of overthrowing Turkey's secularist government public and has been banned since 2001. Its leader, Metin Kaplan, the "Caliph of Cologne," is serving a life sentence in Turkey where he was extradited in 2004.
5. "Islam and Identity in Germany." 6. International Crisis Group interview, Viadrina University, December 22, 2005. 7. "Islam and Identity in Germany." 8. "Muslims in Europe: Economic Worries Top Concerns About Religious and Cultural Identity," Pew Global Attitudes Project, Released July 6, 2006. 9. "Islam and Identity in Germany."


As a Middle East specialist, I daily see material from Arab and Islamic sources containing hair-raising threats against America, Israel and the West. But an item in a British newspaper may be the scariest sentence I ever read: A report by the U.K. Department for Education and Skills says that schools in England are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils. And it's not just that the institution most entrusted with preserving democratic society and Western civilization - the school system - is betraying that trust. The really scary sentence is this: "Some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial." Get it? These kids are told at home or by Muslim preachers that the Holocaust never happened - teachers aren't challenging that misinformation, they're shutting up so as not to disturb a world view based on lies. By the same token, schools are dropping lessons on the Crusades. And not even for the poor excuse that such teaching might stir social conflict, but rather because "lessons often contradict what is taught in local mosques." Another worry cited in press reports: "Fears [that] Muslim pupils might express anti-Semitic and anti-Israel reactions in class." It's not just Britain; in France, the rot has gone even further. Thus, British and French educators are ready to abandon 500 years of progress owing to open intellectual inquiry through the use of logic. The schools won't confront or challenge students but rather will leave them safe in their prejudices. Aside from the broader implications, such behavior constitutes a reinforcement of racism, intolerance and hatred in the name of a philosophy - political correctness - that is supposed to combat these things.

Note, also, that there have been no riots or mass protests to demand this rush to preserve ignorance. This is not only surrender but a preemptive one - offered before it's even demanded. Up until now, democratic, modern societies have successfully absorbed large numbers of immigrants because of the process of assimilation (or, in milder form, acculturation). The idea, so successful in the United States, has been that immigrants must accept the society's rules. And why not, since it has been so successful? The West's stability, freedom and material benefits are why people come. Immigrants were and are free to keep most of their own culture and all of their religion. But now the successful, free society feels compelled to adapt to less successful, unfree ones. Where does it end? Can schools teach democracy to those told this is heresy, because laws can only be made by God? Can evolution, if it contradicts what is said in mosques, or might provoke complaints in class? Can we even teach the value of tolerance itself? That, too, might upset those who have been taught intolerance. This new approach also condemns Muslims to be slaves of the radical Islamists among them. Rather than challenge extremism, the schools would reinforce it. They would tell students hungry for knowledge and freedom to shut up and believe what their mullahs say. Any Muslim female student who does not want to wear concealing clothes or wanted personal freedom can't depend on help or validation from French or British society - which instead sentence her to imprisonment in a behavioral and intellectual ghetto. I'll note one final horrifying element of all this - perhaps the worst of all: the passivity with which Europeans are excusing or ignoring this revolution against their most basic and precious freedoms. Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center. His next book, "The Truth about Syria," hits stores in May.