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New book by Hamed Abdel-Samad - Aus Liebe zu Deutschland: A Warning Call (For love of Germany: A Warning Call)

Written by Firuze B. for Tichys Einblick.

His books critical of Islam made him famous. His sharp theses brought him success, but also a lot of hatred and anger. The author has lived under permanent police protection for seven years after Islamic scholars called for his murder. Now he has submitted a new book.

"Aus Liebe zu Deutschland: Ein Warnruf” (For love of Germany: A Warning Call) is different from all of Abdel-Samad's earlier works, it is calmer, more conciliatory. His tone is neither angry nor accusatory, but empathetic, his arguments presented, as usual, in a clearly understandable manner and yet at a high intellectual level.

It is a strong plea for this country and for freedom. A plea for an ideology-free approach to history and the defense of western values. Still, he doesn't skimp on criticism. Abdel-Samad deals with topics that many native German authors would burn their fingers on, such as “What is it about being German?”, “Guilt and shame”, “Memory culture”, “Welcome culture” and “Leading culture”. But he's neither populist nor provocative. It is thought-provoking and encourages action, not only on a political but also on a personal level.

His book affects me personally too. The way he looks at Germany and the way he describes the process of his own “becoming German” touches me very much, but it also stirs up old memories that I was not ready to come to terms with for a long time. It hurt to contradict him while reading it, it hurt even more to agree with him. It is not the first time that this man has demonstrated his love for Germany and its values. And it is not the first time that he has felt that his love is not wanted by everyone.

I have a personal story with this author that is also a story of liberation. At a time when I was speechless, he was my mouthpiece. It was in the spring of 2018. Hamed Abdel-Samad was invited by a group of students to my university to read from his book "Integration - A Protocol of Failure". The author was already considered controversial and even then I couldn't understand the hysteria surrounding his theses, because for me he only addressed obvious problems and topics, the explosiveness of which, in my opinion, everyone should have long been aware.

Of course, a lot has gone wrong in this country, not just in terms of integration. For me, the author's theses were not theoretical analyzes, but a description of my own history and its faults. But I couldn't talk to anyone about it, not even my fellow students. I previously thought that the university was a place of free discourse, but on certain topics an open debate is undesirable. And it is precisely these topics that Abdel-Samad deals with.

For a long time I quarreled with myself and with this country because I could hardly find words for my internal and external conflicts. Hamed Abdel-Samad became a mouthpiece for me. But not only for me, but also for many people who are barely noticed because they are quiet and because these conflicts are so complex and emotionally charged that there are often no words to name them or the strength to tackle them.

But we exist. Secular men and women from Islamic cultures and families who stand for freedom, democracy, humanism and enlightenment. Women and men who risked an incredible amount and lost a lot because they fought to live a free life here and, despite all the hardships, did not deviate from it. Including lonely, abandoned, uprooted and often abused people who still walk upright and do not regret their path. People who, like Abdel-Samad, love Germany, but who it hurts to experience how this love is misunderstood.

Sometimes it seems as if it is irrelevant whether one has adapted and internalized the Western values ​​or not - because in today's Germany they often do not play a major role in practice. People with a migration background only seem to be of interest to politics and the media when they present themselves as representatives of a religion or when they complain about racism. You don't want to hear self-confident migrants who pose neither as religious nor as victims.

Laws are being changed and the neutrality of the state is being questioned so that a Muslim judge can wear her headscarf in the courtroom. But people who criticize Islamism, the Islamic legal system and the ideology behind the headscarf and risk their lives for it are considered troublemakers. It pains us to watch Germany not only ignore us, but also back our enemies. This imbalance is grueling and tiring. As if you've fought all your life for something that doesn't even exist. We are not victims of the state or of Nazis, but part of a struggle against a religious ideology that is directed against freedom.

We do not want to see ourselves as victims because we have gained something that can comfort us over any loss: our dignity as human beings and - above all - freedom. And this freedom is in danger, as Abdel-Samad emphasizes again and again. That's why I wanted to hear and see him back then. Because this author said what depressed me, but which I did not dare to think, let alone articulate, at the time.

Many young people gathered an hour before his reading began. Most of them were students, including many young women with headscarves. A nervous, sometimes frightening mood spread across the campus in front of the lecture hall when the massive security measures by bodyguards and police officers became visible. It took a long time until everyone was admitted, after a meticulous body search, jacket and bag checks. It seemed crazy to me at the time, but the room was actually searched for weapons and explosives.

“All because he says what I think too? At a university?! ”For the first time I became aware of what it can mean in today's Germany to address truths that nobody wants to hear. The book presentation was interrupted by many disruptions. The atmosphere in the hall was extremely aggressive. There were many students who had obviously only come to demonstratively leave or to disrupt the event. The doors were slammed with aggressive shouts such as "racist" and "fascist" when leaving. It was obvious that it was a planned action, because the author was interrupted again and again in this way.

“Freedom for everyone!” Shouted a young lady with a headscarf from the back row. Little did she notice that her interjection was trampling on the author's right to freedom of expression. I and the other 400 students who came to hear Hamed Abdel-Samad were also deprived of our right to open debate. It sabotaged my right to self-expression, my liberation. As so often before. The vocal woman who shouted "Freedom for All" was the type of woman who had often called me a whore because of my freedom of movement.

Do we mean the same thing when we speak of freedom? I do not think so. Because it was also the calls of those who represent a “culture” who thought it was right and approved to murder my grandfather in order to “wash one's honor”. His children found him covered in blood and with his throat cut. The representatives of this “culture” considered it right to pass my aunt, who was then 14 years old, to the German authorities as an adult, in order to marry her here in Germany to a man twenty years older than her; so that she doesn't degenerate into a “godless whore” here. If it had been up to them, neither I nor my siblings would exist because my mother was also supposed to be murdered by her brother for "dishonorable behavior". She escaped. Her scars from the injuries inflicted by the knife are only dark spots and mute witnesses of the past.

I sat in the classroom, angry and couldn't understand why this man aroused so much hatred. That is Germany too. A country where Salafists can run around freely and preach, while a critic of Islam can only appear with personal protection and a bulletproof vest. What is the crust of Abdel-Samad scratching the fact that these completely exaggerated actions at his lectures have become the rule rather than the exception - and that his life must still be in danger?

Hamed Abdel-Samad remained calm. He had obviously seen worse. They came to silence him, but he resisted in a civilized manner and with convincing arguments.

And now he's written a new book. Again he criticizes burning problems and promotes an open culture of debate - even with taboo topics. He is risking his life again - the fatwa against him still stands. But this time he not only criticizes Islam, but all ideologues - right and left - never moralizing, but wise and goal-oriented. One wonders why is this man doing this to himself? The answer is, as the title suggests: “For love of Germany”.

In spite of everything, one can in no way accuse him of looking through rose-colored glasses, even if some passages have a touch of German romanticism. For native German authors, this would certainly not only be a point of attack for sharp criticism, but the ultimate proof of flirting with the right. But here is a man writing who came to Germany from Egypt in 1995 as a 23-year-old. He was strongly influenced by Germany. He dealt passionately with German history because he wants to understand this country, which is “like him”, in terms of traumatic experiences and in terms of fleeing from one extreme to the next. He invites Germany not to divide its own history into dark chapters and great moments, but to view it as a process, also as a healing process.

According to Abdel-Samad, our society lacks a common set of values ​​that are geared towards enlightenment, freedom and democracy. This set of values ​​is a basic requirement for an identity-creating effect in order to be able to develop a “we” from it. A “we” that could in turn protect these values ​​together. This is not the first time you read these lines of thought, but the author analyzes them in depth and his statements are not just empty phrases. His manifesto at the end of the book sounds like a second constitution for the future of Germany.

This book is a declaration of love to a divided country. And that this love is a sincere and honest one, free of kitsch, but not entirely free of German romanticism, which apparently shapes him more than one would trust a migrant, he makes more precise on 224 pages and in nine chapters and concrete language by taking a critical look at what he loves and by warning of fatal social and political developments. He warns of the danger of losing what he has come to know and love in Germany: freedom. And he reveals that it is also a tragic love. Because he loves what does not want to be loved because it does not feel worthy of love and therefore cannot love back.

As I read this book, I felt understood again for issues and problems for which I was actually not yet ready. I can understand Germany a little better now. And I can understand myself better. It is time to stop defining ourselves by the pain of the past. Because history should remind us, not overwhelm us. Abdel-Samad achieved something I never could: He can live with the fact that his love for Germany remained unrequited. I keep catching myself repeating the question: Was it all for nothing?

According to the author, not. I hope he's right.

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