'Wipe Out the Jews' Anti-Semitic Hate Speech in the Name of Islam

By Matthias Küntzel

Part 2: Building Street Cred for the Islamist Movement


Most Muslims reject Islamism and its propaganda. According to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany's domestic intelligence agency, only about one percent of Muslims living in Germany are members of Islamist organizations whose political objectives include anti-Semitism. But the non-organized potential for radicalization is significantly greater. According to the "Muslims in Germany" study, between eight and 12 percent of Muslims hold anti-Western and anti-democratic views. "Attitudes ranging from strongly fundamentalist to openness to Islamism" are found among younger Muslims, according to the study. One of the respondents, the authors write, articulated a "desire for a young political avant-garde," which, the respondent said, must "take matters into its own hands."

Following the demise of the socialist bloc and the decimation of protest movements with a secular orientation, such a rebellious impulse does in fact shape the Islamist movement into an anti-Western avant-garde of sorts. As the only adversary of the global world order, it possesses an ideology, a lot of money and supporters worldwide. Advertising for the Islamist cause has used pop culture with as little inhibition as Hamas has unscrupulously resorted to a Hollywood cartoon character to recruit children. Trend-conscious clothing, music and lifestyle advertising bring "street credibility" to the Islamist mission. Online shops, like the Hamas-affiliated portal Islamicstatewear.com, sell T-shirts with expressly religious messages, like "Islam! Submit!," "I love my Prophet" and "State University of Mecca," while musicians like the rapper "Ammar114" (his name is based on the 114 suras of the Koran) use their raps to promote their version of Islam.

Other Muslim rappers portray themselves as representatives of a "Jihad Generation" and pepper their "intifada rap" with anti-Semitism of the worst kind. "Zyklon Beatz," a Berlin rap group, released a CD in 2006 with lyrics describing Jews as animals and demonizing them as devils in human form. Rapper Bushido, who won the prestigious ECHO Music Award in February 2008 and was broadcast live on RTL as Germany's best hip hop artist, stylizes himself as a Muslim assassin: "I am a Taliban … I am this terrorist young people believe in … I am King Bushido, and my second name is Mohammed. And I have set your city on fire."

In a rap video placed on the Internet, a Lebanese man living in Berlin chants: "Kill every Jewish pig, the Jahudis are unclean. They should all die and they aren't worth our tears. Arabs like us rule." Within a few weeks, his video, which translates Hezbollah's and Hamas's universes of hatred into a form more accessible to youth, had provoked hundreds of comments, most of them enthusiastic.

But one criticism of the German-language hip hop scene -- that such statements no longer provoke a scandal -- also applies to the German public at large. While the anti-Semitism coming from the extremist right wing attracts attention, and for good reason, there is too little awareness of anti-Semitism articulated by Muslims. For some, hatred of Jews is as much a part of the Middle Eastern world as water pipes and mosques. Others say nothing because they see Muslims mainly as victims. Still others gloss over Islamic anti-Semitism as an understandable reaction to the Middle East conflict, while organizations like the Left Party even see potential common ground with the Islamist movement.

In 2003, the German Interior Ministry banned Hizb ut-Tahrir, an Arab anti-Semitic organization, and in 2005 it ordered Yeni Akit, a Turkish anti-Semitic publishing house, to shut down. And in 2007, the Interior Ministry supported projects to combat anti-Semitism among Muslim youth. But the Foreign Ministry has consistently undermined all of these efforts by accepting the importation of anti-Semitic propaganda through Saudi Arabian and Egyptian satellite broadcasters.

Meanwhile, a rabbit named Assud has replaced Mickey Mouse on Hamas's children's program. "Why is your name Assud (lion) if you are a rabbit?" a girl asked in the broadcast on Feb. 8, 2008. "Because I, Assud, will clean up the Jews and devour them." The girl nodded in agreement, and said: "May Allah's will be done."

Hamburg political scientist Matthias Küntzel, 53, is a member of the board of directors of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. His recent book "Islamic anti-Semitism and German Politics," was recently published by LIT Verlag.

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