Tragedy is upon us! Once again we all become Parisians!
Amongst the many condemnations the one expressing our emotions the best was by Chancellor Merkel:
Die Menschen, um die wir trauern, wurden vor Cafés ermordet, im Restaurant, im Konzertsaal oder auf offener Straße. Sie wollten das Leben freier Menschen leben, in einer Stadt, die das Leben feiert ‑ und sie sind auf Mörder getroffen, die genau dieses Leben in Freiheit hassen.
The tragedy is upon us, there is no question, but an even bigger tragedy befalls us if the horrors of yesterday will mean that the values we love, and which the victims rejoiced in, will be perverted into intolerance, injustice and inhumanity!
Norway was a shining example of how to uphold what we hold truly dear in the face of the foulest kind of cruelty when they in the midst of deep mourning over Utøya reaffirmed their commitment to an open, humanistic society. But what we experience now, a few hours after the Paris tragedy, is that the high priests of chauvinism and social exclusion start to exploit the tragedy for their unsavory purposes. One terrorist may have had a Syrian passport – so all refugees are terrorists is the song.
The response to this perversion was already in my Facebook inbox, I was pleased to see. The response is, of course, that the refugees who take terrible risks to get to safety in our countries are fleeing exactly the same kind of terror in their home countries – the same kind of terror day in and day out. This is what we must always keep in mind, what we must never stop repeating and explaining. Refugees fear the same that we fear! When terrorists strike Paris it is not because they want to export refugees, it is because they want to export terror, and they would welcome nothing more than refugees being turned away and us losing our humanity!
Of course, the terrorists also defend their actions in religious terms. The caliphate against the countries of the cross. This is stupidity, but sadly a refrain that will be picked up by the extreme right in Europe. More and more you hear stories about how there is a war of religions going on – and amazingly you hear this even in an entirely areligious country like Denmark. The slander of Islam is deeply unsetting because it deprives Islam of its deep spirituality, beauty, humanism and civilization, and because it leads to horrible policies. It was Muslim scholars who preserved for the world much of what we have left of Plato and Aristotele, and Islam has given rise to immense learning and humanistic culture. But fact is that all three Abrahamic religions were always at risk of being hijacked by proponents of war and violence (as opposed to Asian religions), and history is full of examples. What we must absolutely defend against is that the intolerance of a small group of Muslim extremists is met by secular or Christian intolerance, or that we conflate the large majority of Muslims with an extreme minority. If that happens then the terrorists have truly reached their goal!
What we must do is to treasure the true values of Islam and give far more room to those who can express those values, and we must live and treasure our own values and culture. This is not only what multiculturalism is about – this is what humanity is about! True culture is strong, never aggressive!