03sami (do not publish again).
(photo credit: Avi Katz)
"Jews are the enemy of Allah," declared Ismael Gharaballi during a recent service in a mosque in Bielefeld, Germany. "This is not only my belief, but also Allah's conviction," the Palestinian imam and Hamas activist declared, waving his Koran in the air. The congregation of about 200 thundered, "Allahu Akbar!"
Then Gharaballi turned to another page in the Koran and read,
"â€¦ and kill them [he explained this to mean unbelievers, especially the Jews] wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you" (Surah 2, verse 191). "What are you waiting for?" he cried. "Allah Himself is telling us kill them. No peace can be made with the Jews."
After the prayers, I approached Gharaballi in the cafeteria of the mosque and asked him if he was serious about what he had preached. "Of course, I am. This is not any book. This is the word of Allah." Then I asked if he would kill a Jew here in Germany. He answered: "Yes, especially those Israelis who are occupying Arab land." I reminded him that this would be murder and for that he would land up behind bars. Ismael retorted angrily: "I don't care. The Koran is our law and constitution and anything else is just rubbish." Referring to Hitler, Ismael told me: "The man was a hero, almost a Muslim. I'm one of his fans."
Gharaballi is not unique in Germany's three million-strong Muslim community. Ibrahim el-Zayat, the head of an extremist Munich-based organization called The Islamic Community of Germany, told a meeting of fellow Muslims last month: "It is still premature to strike against the Jews and infidels in this country. However, at the lecture at a community center in Neukoeln, Berlin, which I attended, but where no media reporters were allowed access, he went on to assert: "But sooner or later we will strike against the enemies of Allah and Islam. We have to wait. Many Germans are converting to Islam, especially friends from the NPD [a neo-Nazi party]." When I asked a German reporter to verify this by calling el-Zayat, the latter denied having ever said such a thing.
El-Zayat was born in 1968 in Marburg, Germany, to an Egyptian imam and a German mother. He owns a construction company and receives huge sums of money from the Saudis to build mosques in Germany and in other European countries. He is an aggressive Muslim fundamentalist and has connections to various Islamists and terrorist organizations across the world. He is currently being prosecuted in Germany for supporting radical organizations.
El-Zayat is typical of most Muslim activists in Germany. In their schools and community centers, Muslim organizations incite hatred and violence against Jews and Christians. In public, however, and before the media, they deny preaching violence. El-Zayat, Gharaballi and the majority of radical Islamist imams, and officials of Muslim organizations receive big honorariums from the Saudis.
According to a study by Bielefeld University, over 30 percent of the Muslims living in Germany are radicalized. They reject the German Constitution and hope to establish shari'a Islamic law.
Many German politicians, in particular in the Green Party, often attribute radicalism among Muslims to social problems and lack of integration in German society. For all these problems they blame the German side. Former foreign minister Joschka Fischer stated, in an interview with German radio station WDR earlier this year, that Muslims should be left alone to believe and act the way they please. "Other religions are not more liberal than Islam."
The German Home Minister Wolfgang SchÃ¤uble has met with heads of Muslim organizations and Islam experts several times over the last two years, the latest was in March. I attended all these meetings. The heads of Muslim umbrella organizations tell the German government that they and their members accept the German Constitution. Back in their communities they preach hatred and violence. In mid-April, the German police raided the properties of a dozen Muslim extremists and arrested nine of them. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. The German media and the public appear to be wary of antagonizing Muslim radicals. Very few media reproduced the Mohammad cartoons published in Denmark and they downplayed the recent anti-Islam Fitna film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders.
Radical Islam inculcates in impressionable young minds verses from the Koran that are incompatible with modern values and human rights, such as inciting hatred towards Jews and Christians. Dalal, a 15-year-old girl who attends a Muslim school in Ulm, was proud to tell me that her teacher told her not to greet non-Muslims. It is haram (forbidden), she said. The radical Muslims also emphasize those passages that discriminate against women and incite violence against those who practice freedom of religion and speech.
Christianity and Judaism also have passages in their holy scripts that are incompatible with human rights. But most Christians and Jews simply ignore these passages, consider them archaic, and instead apply more humane and rational ones. Most Muslims ignore the more liberal passages that do exist in the Koran.
The majority of Muslims in Germany are peaceful people. Radical Muslims are a minority. But this minority dominates. They are in key positions in the community and control mosques and organizations. There is no hate-crime law in Germany. The German government should enact such a law, like the one against Holocaust denial, making it an offense to incite to hatred and the violation of human rights. â€¢
Dr. Sami Alrabaa, a sociology professor in Germany, is a commentator on Arab affairs.