A rupture in our civilisation

Matthias Drobinski 17.03.2019
When right wing terrorists shoot and kill dozens of Muslims, it is as much an attack on our values as it would be if the perpetrators had been Islamists. Open society must take a decisive stand against such deeds.

The act feels so distant, so unreal. In Christchurch in New Zealand, on the other side of the world, shooters mowed down people in two mosques; Muslims gathered there for Friday prayers. At least 49 people are dead.
The killers are terrorists, right wing terrorists. Their attack on Muslims at prayer is just as much an attack on western democracies, human rights and pluralism as the attacks carried out by Islamist murderers on synagogues and churches, on people sitting in cafés or media offices.
After 13 November 2015, the Paris attack was described as an attack on “our way of life”. If that description held true at that time, it also holds true now, in relation to 15 March 2019. A day that also marks a rupture in our civilisation.
After all, although the scene of the crime may be far away, the act itself is not. It has already been made ubiquitous through its live streaming from a camera mounted on the attacker’s helmet; the manifesto – a clear declaration of responsibility from the attackers themselves – is aimed at Muslims and migrants, wherever they may live. The message is getting through. In Germany too, anyone living as a Muslim sensed on that day: They mean me – whether I’m devout or secular; it’s also irrelevant how long I’ve been living here as a good citizen. You shouldn’t feel safe. You shouldn’t feel at home.
With the exception of those on the ultra-right fringes of society, non-Muslims here in Germany are also horrified at the bloodbath. But the deed exposes the subtle and nevertheless tangible differences between the rage of the unaffected and the anger that overtakes those it is aimed at: is the response the same when the target is a synagogue or church? This question does not seek to offset. It listens restlessly and also fearfully to the heart of the nation and hopes for an answer.
Violence with systematic causes
Following the attacks by Islamists, a whole series of Muslim representatives insisted that violence has nothing to do with Islam. This statement was refuted, and rightly so.
After all, this violence does indeed have systematic causes, and one of them is an interpretation of Islam that justifies violence, perceives non-believers as second-class citizens and defames democracy and pluralism as immoral.
Equally, questions must now be asked concerning the systematic causes and justification models of right wing terrorism, which is no less of a global phenomenon.
And yes: This terrorism also has its roots in racist supremacist ideologies, in hatred of Islam and the Muslims, in the idea that anything regarded and experienced as foreign has less of a right to exist.
So, just as hatred of “the West” is prevalent far beyond the Islamist terrorist milieu and feeds terror, hatred of “Islam” also fuels terror.
Both necessitate an unequivocal rejection from open society, one that is robustly declaimed and enforced by all the powers of the state.
Matthias Drobinski
© Süddeutsche Zeitung 2019