Islamists and anti-Semites: Caliphate demonstration makes Germany’s problem “more visible to those who want to see it”
Islamist banners and raised index fingers as a gesture by radical Islamists at a supposed pro-Palestine demonstration in Essen have caused outrage nationwide. Islam expert Ahmad Mansour explains how this came about and why it is not surprising.
The residents in Essen were deeply shocked when they saw Islamist flags being waved last Friday as part of an allegedly pro-Palestinian demonstration and participants calling for the establishment of a caliphate – like the Islamic State. They were unbelievable images that caused outrage throughout Germany.
FDP Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said: “Frankly, I am horrified.” North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) spoke of a “new quality” that “pro-Palestinian demonstrations achieved on Friday in North Rhine-Westphalia.” “Such clear advertising for Islamist goals on the street has not previously been observed in North Rhine-Westphalia,” said Reul.
Since then, many people in Germany have been wondering how all of this is possible in this country and who are the people who openly propagate their hatred of our way of life?
Islam expert: “Actors have been filling the vacuum of Salafism for several years”
In Essen, Islam expert Ahmad Mansour primarily identified actors from the banned “Hizb ut-Tahrir” organization. These are primarily active online with profiles such as “Reality Islam”, “Muslim interactive” and “Generation Islam”.
Ahmad Tamim, the head of “Generation Islam”, was also in Essen and spoke at the final rally. The current Berlin Office for the Protection of the Constitution confirms that his group belongs to the ideological environment of the Islamist organization HuT. The HuT itself aims to establish an Islamic caliphate – and calls for the destruction of Israel “through militant jihad”.
On social media, those actors have “been filling the vacuum of Salafism for several years and addressing everyday issues among Muslim young people,” Mansour told FOCUS online. The goal is always to keep these young people at a distance from the majority society and to spread dichotomous black-and-white images of Islam and Muslims, explains Mansour. This means: “Muslims are victims and the majority society, the government, the critics of Islam, are the perpetrators.”
“The fact that Islamists and anti-Semites appear self-confident is not a new phenomenon”
At the rally in Essen, in addition to banners calling for, among other things, the establishment of an Islamist caliphate, participants could also be seen pointing the finger, which is considered a gesture of radical Islamists.
However, the fact that Islamists and anti-Semites appear self-confident these days is not a new phenomenon, says the extremism expert. “Now it will only become more visible to those who want to see it. But it is a development that has been observed on a massive scale in recent years.” And Mansour puts his finger in the wound: “This shows that our repression is not working and that the people concerned are not afraid of being exposed like this behave. This also has to do with the fact that we have criminally neglected the topic in recent years and have rarely been willing to even talk about it.”
For the expert it is clear that this development is “very, very dangerous”. “The rule of law can only function if it has a deterrent effect in such cases, which is not the case with this very issue.”
Many demo participants are clueless
But what is the motivation of people to go to a demonstration in Essen and demand a caliphate in Germany? “The main reason people go to these demonstrations is the Middle East conflict,” says Mansour. “Many of the participants have no idea who they are marching with. “But they also don’t distance themselves from Islamist narratives,” he criticizes.
What moves them primarily is anger and sadness about the situation in Gaza and the images they see from there. That is the reason why they join everyone who takes to the streets for Gaza and Palestine, said the Islam expert. And of course the topic is also being discussed by Islamists, “because this way they get access to young people.”
The fact that the movement for Palestine as a whole and the participants in pro-Palestinian demonstrations do not distance themselves from anti-Semites and Islamists also shows how unenlightened some of them are.
“Essen shows that we have huge problems with integration here”
But Mansour also warns against generalizations: “We must not forget that the majority of people in Germany do not represent these points of view, are very critical of political Islam and Islamism and that is precisely why they do not even take part in these demos.”
But those who do that have already come here with this ideology. “And they didn’t come because they wanted to move away from Islamism, but because they wanted to spread Islamism here in Germany too.” This shows that integration is not working well and that these people live physically in Germany, but not yet emotionally have arrived.
What happened in Essen and in other places in Germany show “that we have huge problems with integration here, that people have not arrived in our society and that integration means much more than the formula ‘language plus work minus crime’ says Mansour.
“We have security gaps in our society and we have not conveyed to these people what it actually means to be part of this society.” These are people who live here but carry values that are in absolute contradiction to our basic democratic principles stand, says the expert.