Mohammed El Fazazi's Letter 'Germany Is No Battle Zone'
In July 2009, former Moroccan hate preacher Mohammed El Fazazi distanced himself from any form of terrorism aimed at Western targets in a letter to his daughter, who lives in Hamburg. SPIEGEL ONLINE has obtained a translated version of the letter, whose existence only recently became known.
"My daughter has put to me a few questions with the aim of finding answers about the situation of Muslim immigrants in Germany and their relationship with the German state. I consider myself truly happy that she has raised these topics with me because it provides me with the opportunity to express my thoughts and opinions about these issues and provide answers to those who seek them.
I would like to declare firstly that I, Muhammad bin Muhammad El Fazazi, the writer of these lines, has not been forced to put these down. I am under no pressure to write this, because I am in prison or have been put under pressure to do so or because I want to pretend about something -- and, as a proof of this, shall serve the logical arguments and the arguments of the sharia that I will put forward here.
In addition, my situation in a Moroccan prison is very unusual, given the rights that I enjoy here and the respect that I am met with. I am not lacking anything apart from my freedom, and I have appealed to the almighty Allah that it is given back to me as soon as possible. This is because everybody knows, including the Moroccan government, that the accusations against me, because of the attacks in Casablanca, are not true. They represent a big mistake on the part of the Moroccan secret service. This error must be corrected.
'I Am a Muslim and Nothing More'
In terms of the questions about what my thoughts and religious points of reference where before I moved to the German city of Hamburg, here's what I think:
I am a person whose personality is put together from different sources and maybe it is possible to say as a summary that I do not trust so much the way that certain people think as much as I rely on the arguments that these men bring forward. ( ) I have no particular sheik whom I follow apart from the Koran and the sunna of the prophet. Apart from this I am a modern person. For 32 years I was a teacher of French and mathematics, and I have also for more than 30 years served Da'wa (editors's note: mission) and I have devoted myself to preaching under the auspices of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in Morocco. In other words: I am a Muslim and nothing more. I am not a Salafist jihadist and I am not a traditional Salafi. I am not a Muslim Brother or anything else. I am a Muslim and nothing more. (...)
As for my books and my speeches or talks -- which partly contained thoughts that were terrible towards my opponents -- one must put them into context in terms of the time and location and one must not more interpret more into them than they actually contained. I say here publicly that I was the object of vicious attacks by leftist circles in Morocco. I was insulted, coerced, I was wrongly quoted in newspapers and forums. And a lot of what I said in books was a reply to these attacks and an act of self-defense. And I admit that I went too far and overshot the target in my attempt to counter what I had to hear about myself by my leftist opponents and other forces. (...) So that's the context in which my books and my articles must be understood. (...)
'I Have Moved Away from Some of My Beliefs'
Without a doubt, the long years that I had to spend behind bars in prison have given me an opportunity to contemplate and soberly reflect. I am not ashamed that I have once again reflected on my world of thoughts and have moved away from some of my beliefs. This is a laudable thing and not to be lamented. (...)
As for the questions regarding Muslim immigrants and the German state or Western states in general: The first ones who should answer those questions are the learned people who have emigrated themselves, because they know more about the details and more about those particular relations, they are living the everyday life and they experience the behavior of state institutions and they have contact with the population.
But if I were to say something personally about it, as someone who has on only two occasions spent two weeks in Germany -- not even enough time to allow me to really get to know the people and the country or even the Muslim community there -- then I would say that a Muslim immigrant, no matter where he comes from, has generally come to Germany because he wants to learn something there or he wants to work, seek medical treatment or any number of things. Germany accepted him under certain conditions.
'Germany Is Not a Battle Zone'
In order for these conditions to be formulated, certain forms have been filled out and certain contracts have been concluded. In these cases we are talking about real contracts that have to be adhered to. In reality this is what you would call an Ahd Amam, a security contract for both sides and Allah says in his beloved book: "You who have given security, keep the contracts."
So it follows that anything that breaks these contracts -- e.g. by declaring theft to be halal (editor's note: something which is permitted under Islam) (...) or by allowing the killing of the population in the name of jihad (...) or by trying to build cells who put people into a state of fear and horror and so on (...) -- in my eyes constitutes a breach of contract and betrayal in regard to what one has signed in the embassy, in the consulate or in the immigration office.
Germany is not a battle zone. Germany is a field for work, a school for learning, workshops for investments, hospitals for treatment and a market for the sale of goods. Put in another way, Germany is a place for peaceful coexistence and a good life -- not least of which because German judges and police ( ) protect foreigners and take care of them. (...)
Muslims Seen as 'Group of Backward-Looking Idiots'
Of course there are people, and these are not learned people, who say that Germany is a NATO member state and that Germany is part of those states that fight against Muslims in Afghanistan and support the state of Israel (...) I say that this is right. An injustice is always an injustice and every one must stand up against injustice, including the German people. I know that (the German people) are against war and occupation and that they have more than once publicly expressed their rejection of the war in general.
It is the job of immigrants to debate and engage with such people. (This should be done) by means of peaceful demonstrations, strikes and protests that are far removed from indiscriminate attacks, the killing of innocent people with the argument of killing kuffar, or non-believers.
The rejection of German or other foreign policy must be organized through civilian, peaceful methods of resistance.
The strength of the argument lies not in a rifle bullet, in violence or in explosive belts. Those won't bring about change. They will only reinforce the backwardness of Muslims and their image as a group of backward-looking idiots whose place is in the caves and not in the streets of Hamburg, Frankfurt, Berlin or wherever. That's what this is about. ( )
'I Advise all to Live Together Peacefully'
I also want to add, in clear Arabic, that Hamburg (because the question addressed to me was about Hamburg) is a city in which there is a plurality of religious sects, ideologies and political directions. Apart from that, Islamic religious communities -- for the reasons that I already mentioned and other generally accepted reasons -- have been established there. The mosques are open, there are many of them and they are protected. There is real freedom of religion which does not exist in many Muslim states. The things that educated people and preachers can say there cannot be said in some Muslim countries.
There are many ways and possibilities of expressing oneself, and they are open to everyone. That, again, is hardly the case in the Muslim world. There is no prohibition on the peaceful promotion of Islam. Within the scope of legal possibilities and general relations between host and guest, one can express his opinion and represent his faith. (...)
I do not believe even that the rulers there (Germany) would close there office doors or their ears to the requests of the Muslim community. This is why I advise all to live togther peacefully. The wide world of Allah is open to anyone who cannot. And those who don't want anything but killing, blood, robbery and theft have nothing to do with the religion of Allah the Exalted -- neither in Germany nor anywhere else.
'The Bite of Food that He Earned Himself Is Tasteful and Sweet'
When it comes to earning a living, work and unemployment, I do not think that it is permitted to rely on the German state and to avoid working to make a living, and instead claim unemployment benefits or similar. It is true that there are some lines of employment that are inappropriate for Muslims ( ) but it is also true that there are many, many other possibilities for working that, from an Islamic perspective, are halal and thus permitted. ( ) It is better the he (the Muslim) live from the work of his hands and the sweat of his brow because the mouthful is flavorsome and sweet. ( )
As for those in the streets of Hamburg who think about jihad in the path of God, they should think about life, because this is the true jihad in the path of God. The mere fact that there are 46 prayer rooms in Hamburg is in and of itself evidence of the tolerance showed by the German state towards Muslims. There is no comparably large number of churches in a city in any Islamic country. I know quite a bit about the fragmentations between the founders of those mosques and even within particular mosque communities. It has gone so far that this fragmentation has become one of the outstanding characteristics of the Muslims. This sorrowful state weakens the Muslim's power. ( ) Even when they want to engage in dialogue with the German state over certain issues, they confuse the state with all these conflicts.
'The German Chancellor Is Great'
It is only just that I say that the other side -- and with that I mean the German government -- without any doubt does not guaranty all rights to immigrants. And I hope that they will stand up and see to it that their demands are met and that their suffering is eased and that they are better protected from attacks by xenophobes. Money must be invested in order to improve living conditions for immigrants as well as their level of education, their health care and their housing.
It is rude to demonize and insult the German government or Chancellor Merkel ( ) is an immorality. The principle of biting the hand that feeds you doesn't fit with Allah's saying: "Don't insult those who call upon another God than Allah." ( )
What is the use of insulting the chancellor and describing her as a Taghut (or despot)? That's nonsense. It doesn't lead anywhere. The German chancellor is great. Germany has its religion and you have yours. The chancellor has her work and you have yours. ( ) Germany has opened its doors to you and you have received something from its treasury, while you at the same time have not received anything from your own people. (...)
'I Want to Guide My Brothers'
Finally, I say these are some of my answers that I have given. ( ) I have not said any of this in order to achieve something. I want to guide my brothers in Islam and to point their attention to what is useful for them, especially since I am suffering in prison and have been misunderstood.
It has already been six years now since I was unjustly jailed.
I also say this, because many of you hold me in high esteem and trust my opinion. This is my opinion and that is my view.
I promise my daughter that I will answer all her questions in order to serve justice in the first and the last instance. May Allah grant success.
This has been written by Muhammad bin Muhammad El Fazazi who is been kept as a prisoner in the Tangier city prison unjustly, July 21, 2009."
Editor's note: This text is based on a German translation of Fazazi's original Arabic letter that was commissioned by German security authorities. SPIEGEL ONLINE does not possess a copy of the Arabic original. About one-third of the original document has been removed in this abridged version because the passages were either difficult to understand or redundant.