Abdelbaki Essati, the imam the authorities believe was at the center of terrorist attacks in and around Barcelona, was apparently a master of deception -- "too polite, too correct". He was apparently able to deceive European intelligence services by preaching a "moderate" version of Islam, while at the same time, orchestrating deadly jihadist attacks.
Another imam in Europe, Seyran Ates, preaches a genuinely "moderate Islam" but needs around-the-clock police protection.
Ates, training to become an imam, seems to have thought there was no better place than Berlin to inaugurate her mosque, Ibn Rushd-Goethe. It is the first Islamic religious site open to unmarried women, homosexuals, atheists, Sufis, unveiled women -- all those people that many fundamentalist Islamists have said they wish to silence or kill.
But after the flashbulbs of photographers came the death threats. Now, six German police officers are needed to protect Ates. She is not new to death threats. She closed her law firm in Kreuzberg (a Turkish district of Berlin) after almost being murdered in a terror attack. The bullet lodged between her fourth and fifth vertebrae. It took her five years to recover from the injury.
A week after the inauguration of "Berlin's liberal mosque", its prayer room was virtually empty. The number of faithful was the same as the number of security personnel. Muslims seem afraid to be seen there. Ates has received fatwas and threats from from Egypt to Turkey. She says she has received "300 emails per day encouraging me to carry on", but "3,000 emails a day full of hate", some with death threats.
Berlin's Seyran Ates, an imam who preaches a genuinely "moderate Islam", needs around-the-clock police guards to protect her from fundamentalist Islamists. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Her fate, unfortunately, is not unique. Germany hosts many genuinely "moderate" Muslims who must live under police protection. They are journalists and activists who have challenged terror and radical Islam. Without protection, they would become "moderate martyrs". Ayaan Hirsi Ali fled to the US after the Netherlands refused to continue protecting her.
In Germany, it is not the Muslim supremacists, such as those who preach killing homosexuals, who have to live under police protection; it is the Muslims who criticize the supremacists. The only "crime" these concerned Muslims committed was to exercise their democratic right to speak -- not in Iran or Syria or Iraq -- but in Europe.
These reformers try to keep alive the values of the Enlightenment -- freedom of speech, separation of religion and state, equal justice under law -- to break through the coerced silence of Islam, in which "blasphemy" is punishable by death.
It is they who penetrate that silence. They defend the right to democracy, to an independent judiciary, to education. The price, however, has been exile, torture, ostracism, public marginalization, and too often life itself. Where are the "moderate Muslims"? In the Muslim world, they are in prison, in exile, in flight -- when not murdered -- as was Salman Taseer, his lawyer, bloggers from Bangladesh and countless others. In Europe, these genuine "moderate Muslims" have to live under police protection. Multiculturalism for them is a prison.
Hamed Abdel-Samad, an Egyptian writer and author of the book Islamic Fascism, is protected by the German police. The German sociologist Bassam Tibi has been under police guard for two years for having sponsored a "Euro Islam": how Muslims might be assimilated in Europe, a concept opposite to the Islamization of Europe that the fundamentalists are trying to accomplish. In an interview with the German magazine Cicero, Tibi admitted his defeat and "capitulation".
Ekin Deligöz, a representative of Germany's Social Democratic Party, is under police protection as well, for having asked women to reject the veil as being "a symbol of inferiority and subjection". Fatma Bläser, a victim of forced marriage and the author of the novel Hennamond, is today protected by police. She travels from school to school among young Muslims to raise awareness. Mina Ahadi, who founded the Council of Former Muslims, is also under day-and-night government protection.
When Turkey's most courageous journalist, Can Dündar, former editor of the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet -- the only Turkish media that expressed solidarity with the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo -- left Ankara for Germany, he most likely would never have imagined that he would need police protection in Berlin, as well. In Turkey, the police searched his house for emails and articles; in Berlin, the police have to guard his house against the Muslim fundamentalists who want him dead. In Turkey, they wanted to kill him for criticizing political Islam; Europe is no different.
These are the real "moderate" voices in the Islamic world -- unlike many supposed "moderate Muslims" such as Tariq Ramadan, who was recently caught defending female genital mutilation (FGM). These heroic Muslim reformers are far from the Islamic officials of the mainstream Muslim organizations, often funded by oil-rich Islamic dictatorships. Qatar, according to a major enquiry by the French daily Libération, is the main source of funds for the Union of the Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF), the most prominent Islamic umbrella group there. The UOIF also evidently receives funding from Saudi Arabia and "benevolent associations" in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.
These brave dissidents, who need our help, have been struggling to uphold values that are the pillars of Europe's Enlightenment -- those the entire West has come to accept. But not Islam.
These men and women have even been compared to heroes of the Enlightenment, such as Voltaire. The French playwright, however, did not have a million enemies who, recognizing him from television, could then plot to behead him.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.