They are frustrating déjà vu experiences. SPD politician Kevin Kühnert had just restarted the debate over whether the political left in Germany condone too much of the problematic interpretations of Islam for its sheer identity politics and anti-racism. A debate that has actually watered down again.
French products have already been the target of calls for boycotts from countries with a majority of the Muslim population – because of President Emmanuel Macron’s clear statements on the subject of freedom and Islam; Pakistan convenes the French ambassador, the Turkish president insults Macron.
This is reminiscent of the worldwide tensions in 2005/2006 after the publication of the Mohammed cartoons in the Danish newspaper “Jyllands Posten”. Frustratedly, one must realize that in the Arab-Muslim world apparently little has changed over the past 15 years if there are still parts of the population that can be mobilized.
But it is also frustrating how quietly Germany is dealing with the attacks on Macron and the “sanctions”.
Macron leaves no doubt that freedom of expression in France also includes the Mohammed cartoons. Associations were banned and mosques closed. The message: zero tolerance for radical Islamist ideas. The French state wants to take a closer look. That is right and brave.
Macron has certainly surpassed his competencies with his assessment at the beginning of the month that “today’s Islam has a problem”. That is essentialist and counterproductive. But it must be said that radical tendencies in Islam are a problem in France – and elsewhere.
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For the confused lonely culprit’s thesis has long ceased to apply: the murder of Samuel Paty once again demonstrated, almost like a textbook, that such acts cannot take place without a broad ideological environment: a father who, with from a nationally known Islamist, in demands the transfer of a teacher to his daughter’s school and urges him on the Internet – even though the daughter was not present at the history class.
An Islamist pastor who is allowed to rule in Pantin’s Grand Mosque, whose Facebook page spreads the father’s hate speech against the teacher. A video that first makes the perpetrator aware of the teacher. Maximum of one student who approved of Paty’s murder on social media. She was sentenced to three months probation. Yes, that can be symbolic; Yes, the problem cannot be solved with prohibitions alone, which also has its origins in the fact that many young people with a migrant background in France are socially disadvantaged.
Yes, even secularity sometimes takes on fetishistic features. All this is worth the political struggle. But it is also right to act against such toxic ideas with all the rigor the laws provide. And it is brave given the expected virulent reactions – and political instrumentalization à la Erdogan. “We are Paty” is no longer sufficient as an address for solidarity. “We are Macron”, it should say. With his clear announcements, he also defends freedom in other Western countries where people prefer to hide.