Just came across an example of the kind of thing Europeans are struggling with these days. A video of an Austrian talk show where an Austrian man confronts a Swiss woman in language that might well be considered hate speech if the encounter took place in America.
The Austrian man is Efgani Dönmez. He came to Austria with his parents when he was just a few months old, grew up not far from Salzburg, entered politics and was elected to the Austrian Bundesrat as a member of the Green Party, which he served from 2008 to 2015 when he left after the party rejected him for having suggested it might be a good idea to buy one-way tickets for protesting Erdogan supporters. He complained the Party had no room for “unconventional thinkers.”
|Nora Illi on the Anne Will talk show|
The Swiss woman is Nora Illi. She grew up in Zurich and joined a punk group at some point. She met her husband, Patrick Jerome Illi, a promoter of techno-raves at a pro-Palestinian protest in Jordan, where they were married in 2003. Both became converts to Islam, and Patric took the name Qaasim. Both went to work for the Islamic Central Council. Qaasim ran into trouble with the law and was convicted of racial discrimination. On his web page he celebrated the “taking down” (erlegen) of what he described as 16 Israeli “Zionist Occupation Bastards” killed in a Palestinian suicide attack on the bus they were riding in. Charges of being in possession of explosives were eventually dropped, but he was again charged in 2016 for spreading jihadist propaganda.
Nora has been making the rounds on German language television wearing a niqab, i.e., fully covered except for her eyes, as a spokesperson for the Department of Women’s Affairs of the Islamic Council. She speaks out in favor of polygamy and after an appearance on the Anna Will show in November 2016, several of her public statements led to an indictment for aiding terrorism. Those charges were later dropped.
That’s the background for the video I came across today, where Efgani Dönmez confronts Nora Illi on that Austrian talk show, where the topic of the day was the debate over headscarves.
Normally this topic has been done to death, and if I'm looking for a good debate, I'll usually give this one a miss. But I remembered Nora from a couple earlier shows, the Anne Will Show and Menschen bei Maischberger, and wondered what she has been up to lately. Because of the tough spot Germany is in these days with Erdogan labeling as “Nazi tactics” their refusal to allow Turkish politicians to campaign in Germany, where a million and a half people with Turkish passports live, people are very careful about appearing anti-anything Muslim. I'm assuming this caution applies to Switzerland and Austria, as well.
But Dönmez is a Turk, originally, and he's fearless. He really lets her have it.
Here’s the video, if you can follow the German. At least have a look at the first couple of minutes.
Right out of the starting gate, the moderator asks him why Frau Illi should not have the right to wear a head covering of her choosing. He responds, addressing Illi and not the moderator:
We have the freedom in Europe to take up topics, including Islam itself, which in many Islamic countries would be unthinkable. (But) instead of being a member of this society, you choose isolation. Instead of bringing Islam forward you choose a Stone Age Islam, which has nothing to do with Islam. What you're doing here is provocation. You get a stage to perform on. You are supported by Salafist Wahhabi groups. You're just a puppet. You're just a piece of misery, to be honest. You've been brainwashed. You're like hundreds of others...
What characterizes our society is that people engage with one another. We look each other in the eye, we offer to shake hands, so we can get to know each other. Even a dog gets to sniff somebody out. And you refuse to shake hands with somebody simply because he's a man. How sick is that?
I refuse to allow people like you to drag my religion into the dirt. Your form of Islam is a very particular narrow version of the religion. I'm not saying that all Salafists are terrorists, but up until now all terrorists have been Salafists. What we have to fight is not people like you - you can't help it - What we have to fight is this theology of contempt which is going around the world like a virus.
|Pinsdorf, Austria, where Efgani Dönmez grew up|
You get the idea. She fights back. But he is like a dog with a bone.
Whatever happened to that picturesque land where the hills are alive with the Sound of Music?
Makes American television look like a steady stream of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.