Dialogue not Provocation: German Writer Wants to Discuss 'Satanic Verses' with Muslims

Günter Wallraff is a German writer, undercover and investigative journalist, known for his advocacy for immigrant Muslims since the publication of his explosive and very critical book towards Germany and the German society, Lowest of the low, relating his experience of two years taking on the fictional identity of a Muslim immigrant in Germany.

This is why his proposal of discussing Rushdie's Satanic Verses, in the text, on the site of a future Mosque in Cologne, is met with politeness and 'patience' by the Turkish Muslim community in Germany. I was however surprised that most of the criticism and caution about the proposal come from people who advocate freedom of expression vehemently every time Muslims protest some negative expression or representation of their religion by non Muslims.

Henryk M. Broder, a columnist with DER SPIEGEL, criticized Wallraff's idea as "actionism" saying: "The issue isn't about whether you can read 'The Satanic Verses' in a mosque or not. After all, it would never occur to anyone to serve non-kosher food in a synagogue or pork meat in a Catholic church on Good Friday."

There is a profound logical contradiction in this caution because on one hand, freedom of expression advocates in Europe and the West want to be able to say, not only negative things about Islam, but to protect provocateurs, self declared ennemies of this religion like Hirsi Ali. On the other hand, they don't seem to encourage self criticism in Islam when it is done without provocation, with a good spirit, with the will of initiating a friendly dialogue by proxy with the west through someone who is respected by the Muslim community in Germany.

I wish the event could take place. I wish Wallraff will be able to initiate this dialogue. It is a very original idea. Nobody can initiate a dialogue with a provocation and nobody can engage in a dialogue when they feel threatened. Dialogue is only possible with good intentions, knowledge and openness about the other.
Wallraff's initiative should be taken very seriously and encouraged. It is the way of the future, if we want this future to happen and not enlist ourselves in the present war of religion that is going on in the West against Islam. Even though Wallraff's initiative is propably motivated by his close relationship with Salman Rushdie, I can only wish him success and salute his courage.

Read here my article criticising Hirsi Ali, a famous Mulsim Basher.

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Since March 29th 2006