European Terror Threats - English

A Praise for Fear

By Alexander Görlach1.12.2010Global Policy

“You love life, we love death.” The credo of the suicide bombers must not scare us. The bearded fundamentalists signal the last uproar of the Islamic world. They are no threat to us.

1271ad3ead.jpg

Fear is good, especially in the context of terror threats like the ones that have been keeping Germany busy for the past week. Fear sharpens our gaze, it reduces our attention to the things that are important for our survival. It makes us careful. The current situation – complete with MP-armed policemen patrolling around the German parliament – sharpens our appreciation for the ideals of a free society. The defense of these ideals is of utmost importance.

Who is threatening us?

Because we are confronted with the possibility of a surprise attack, we ask ourselves: Who is threatening us, and why? And when we have honestly answered that question, relief sets in: Our enemy is a motley crew of bearded fundamentalists who wear their bombs on top of a corset of fanatic beliefs. Hamed Abdel-Samad got it right in his recent book “The Downfall of the Islamic World”: the aggression of totalitarian Islamism is not the manifestation of the cultural strength of an expanding Islam but its last and desperate hurrah. It is a sign of Islamic decline rather than of Islamic potential. Islamic totalitarianism is not a response to misguided Western politics and Orientalist prejudice. No, it is the desperate cry of a tortured creature – often young and male – that is suffering under the yoke of outdated moralism, political despotism and economic stagnation. Yet the alternative concept – the Western ideal of a free and democratic society – is a cultural concept that is vastly superior to anything left in the Middle East. Its superiority fuels feelings of rejection and hatred. Hatred leads to poor decisions. Our fear helps us to recognize them before terror strikes. “You love life, we love death.” – This credo, much quoted since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, is better suited than any lengthy manifesto to prove the thesis about the decline of Islam. When hatred becomes strong enough to overcome the natural survival instinct, when the final meters as a walking bomb become the purpose of one’s life, Islam is deviating from its proper path. Not those who love life are erring but those who hate it. I cannot imagine that scholars the theologians of Islam would not agree with me on this point.

The defense of freedom is our task

We are now tasked with the defense of our culture of freedom. We must be alert to guard it against excessive governmental initiatives, against prejudices that brand every Turkish vegetable grocer as a potential suicide warrior. We must be alert to ensure that the fear of terror attacks does not lead to discrimination against certain parts of the population – and eventually to open hatred and rejection. If that happens, the Islamists will have won. They will have infected us with their ideology, with a religious fanaticism that frames everything as a final battle about Allah’s truth. We are the captains of our own lives. There is no destiny, there is no determinism. Freedom is not free. “Go and shave, take a bath!” That’s what I want to yell at the fundamentalists. They would have a job in a matter of weeks. They would have a perspective for their lives that does not involve explosive belts.

COMMENTS

MOST COMMENTED

Most People Are Rationally Ignorant

What decisions would we make if we deliberated carefully about public policy? Alexander Görlach sat down with Stanford's James Fishkin to discuss deliberative democracy, parliamentary discontent, and the future of the two-party system.

A Violent Tea Party?

For many Europeans the massacre in Arizona is another evidence that political violence is spreading in the United States but this unfortunate event was the deed of a mentally ill person, not a political activist. There is no evidence of an increasing political extremism tearing America apart. Using

Passage to India

The US and Russia don't agree on much - but they are both keen to develop a good relationship with India. How do we know? Look at the arms trade.

"Cities are making us more human"

More than 50 percent of the world's population now live in cities – and there is no end of urbanization in sight. Harvard economist Edward Glaeser believes urbanization to be a solution to many unanswered problems: pollution, depression and a lack of creativity. He spoke with Lars Mensel about the

No Glove, No Love

Contrary to the mantras repeated by the press, HIV infections are not increasing. We need to move away from activist scare tactics and towards complex risk management strategies.

Perfection Is Not A Useful Concept

Nick Bostrom directs the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. He talked with Martin Eiermann about existential risks, genetic enhancements and the importance of ethical discourses about technological progress.

Mobile Sliding Menu