When I first read about Nicolai Sennels’ work concerning therapy, which he had conducted with criminal Muslims in Denmark, I knew that it would be groundbreaking. I hope that you the reader will listen closely to what he has to say.
Happy well-adjusted children do not become suicide bombers nor do they become criminals. Let us choose to know what we are dealing with rather than bury our heads in sand out of terror. Let us meet the challenge straight on as Sennels has. If the Swedes had intellectual fortitude, Nicolai Sennels, the Dane, should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for standing up and proclaiming that the “Emperor Has No Clothes.” But then again, that is a Danish tale and the Swedes are left with Ingmar Bergman’s drama. Need I say more?
Just as most soldiers in the front lines die in the first attack, many of those who attacked political correctness have experienced negative professional or social consequences. I was no exception. The Mayor of Social Services was clear. I should either refrain from using stigmatizing expressions or find myself another job. Actually I was trying to stop the so-called stigmatization of all the non-Muslim immigrants by focusing on the one group that creates all the problems. But you can’t fight City Hall. Our biggest national newspapers and radio news programs got hold of the story and the mayor was strongly criticized by the media experts on free speech and by the Danish blog-sphere. For about a month there was not a day when my name was not in one or more newspapers and the fighters for free speech took another round. I was no longer an anonymous psychologist. My name was known by everybody who read newspapers in Denmark and especially Islam-critical blogs on the internet put me in the spotlight.
Instead of keeping my mouth shut, I decided to write a book about my experiences with Muslims based on hundreds of therapy sessions. The whole circus that had happened concerning my case had already shown the necessity of breaking the taboos around criminal Muslims. Further, a serious discussion about the relationship between the Muslim culture and criminal, antisocial behavior is, indeed, very much needed. I managed to negotiate a deal that gave me four months severance pay. I am probably the first psychologist in Copenhagen who was offered $20,000 dollars for quitting his job voluntarily. I guess they just wanted to get rid of me, ASAP. I found a well-paying job as a Military psychologist doing psychological screening of soldiers returning from the war in Afghanistan. I also started writing my book, in which I describe a psychological profile of the Muslim culture. The title of the book is Among Criminal Muslims: A Psychologist’s Experiences from the Copenhagen Municipality. (Free Press Society, 2009).
Expressions of anger and threats are probably the quickest way to lose one’s face in Western culture. In discussions, those who lose their temper have automatically lost, and I guess most people have observed the feeling of shame and loss of social status following expressions of aggression at one’s work place or at home. In the Muslim culture, aggressive behavior, especially threats, are generally seen to be accepted, and even expected as a way of handling conflicts and social discrepancies. If a Muslim does not respond in a threatening way to insults or social irritation, he, not “she” (Muslim women are, mostly, expected to be humble and to not show power) is seen as weak, as someone who cannot be depended upon and loses face.
In the eyes of most Westerners it looks immature and childish when people try to use threatening behavior, to mark their dislikes. A Danish saying goes “…Only small dogs bark. Big dogs do not have to.” That saying is deeply rooted in our cultural psychology as a guideline for civilized social behavior. To us, aggressive behavior is a clear sign of weakness. It is a sign of not being in control of oneself and lacking ability to handle a situation. We see peoples’ ability to remain calm as self confidence, allowing them to create a constructive dialogue. Their knowledge of facts, use of common sense and ability in producing valid arguments is seen as a sign of strength.
The Islamic expression of “holy anger” is therefore completely contradictory to any Western understanding. Those two words in the same sentence sound contradictory to us. The terror-threatening and violent reaction of Muslims to the Danish Mohammed cartoons showing their prophet as a man willing to use violence to spread his message, is seen from our Western eyes as ironic. Muslims’ aggressive reaction to a picture showing their prophet as aggressive, completely confirms the truth of the statement made by Kurt Westergaard in his satiric drawing.
This cultural difference is exceedingly important when dealing with Muslim regimes and organizations. Our way of handling political disagreement goes through diplomatic dialogue, and calls on Muslim leaders to use compassion, compromise and common sense. This peaceful approach is seen by Muslims as an expression of weakness and lack of courage. Thus avoiding the risks of a real fight is seen by them as weakness; when experienced in Muslim culture, it is an invitation to exploitation.
All these things do not exist in Muslim culture and countries. The very little psychiatry and psychology that is taught, in only a few universities in the Muslim world, is imported from the West. It is mostly taught by teachers educated at Western universities and does not have roots in the Muslim culture.
But Muslims have something else. They have strict external rules, traditions and laws for human behavior. They have a God that decides their life’s course. “Inshallah” follows every statement about future plans; if God wants it to happen. They have powerful Muslim clerics who set the directions for their community every Friday. These clerics dictate political views, child rearing behavior, and how or whether to integrate in Western societies.
The locus of control is central to our understanding of problems and their solutions. If we are raised in a culture where we learn that “…I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul,” as William Ernest Henley wrote in his famous poem Invictus in 1875; we will, in case of personal problems, look at ourselves and ask: “…What did I do wrong?” and “…What can I do to change the situation?” People who have been taught throughout their entire lives that outer rules and traditions are more important than individual freedom and self reflection, will ask: “Who did this to me?” and “Who has to do something for me?”
Thus, the locus of control is central to the individual’s understanding of freedom and responsibility. Even though our Christian based societies may, in certain situations, give too much emphasis on feelings of guilt; it also strengthens the individual’s sense of being able to take responsibility for, and change one’s own life. In societies shaped under Islamic and Qu’ranic influence there may be fewer feelings of guilt and thus, more freedom to demand the surroundings to adapt to one’s own wishes and desires. This may include demands to wear Islamic costumes which can result in more Muslim demands for Islamization of our Western societies, but it is also a powerful source of victim mentality and leads to endless demands on one’s surroundings. In a very concrete way this cultural tendency, shows itself in therapy, as a lack of remorse. The standard answer from violent Muslims was always: “…It is his own fault that I beat him up. He provoked me.” Such excuses show that people experience their own reactions as caused by external factors and not by their own emotions, motivation and free will. Even though one’s own feelings, when experiencing an insult, can be moderated by one’s own point of view, this kind of self reflection does not happen to the same degree among Muslims as it does among Westerners. It only takes one person to beat up another: the guy who is doing the hitting. It also only takes one person to feel insulted. Being beaten and feeling insulted are thus strictly different social events. The latter depends on ones self, while the former is solely caused by outer circumstances. Unfortunately, this fact is not considered in Muslim culture and apparently also not by the supporters of laws on hate speech, racism and defamation.
The difference in mentality is clearly stated by the old Indian proverb:
Self reflection vs. consequence
Westerners feel that it is “our standards” that determine real consequences for people. We like to think, that if they get some guidance and a second chance most people will learn from that guidance and make use of their chance to improve. We are afraid to set strict boundaries because we do not like people to feel punished, even though our motivation is to stop people from destroying their own lives and the lives of others.
During my years as a social worker, and later as a psychologist for antisocial individuals, I have realized that the only, reasonable way forward is to follow this three step procedure:
2) Establish Boundaries and limitations. If this does not work, then set
This was a real shock to me. Many of my Muslim clients were second or even third generation immigrants, but, still they did not feel Danish. Actually it seemed that many of them were even more religious and hateful towards non-Muslims than their first generation immigrant parents. It was clear to me that they saw themselves as quite different and even better than non-Muslims. Young Danes, who showed an interest in Islam, immediately received positive attention from even the non-practicing Muslims. So did the more hardcore Muslims. The power circles always appear around the more devout Muslims, fanatic, and powerful. The most popular among the Muslims were the true Islamists. The general picture of such an individual is a male with well trimmed beard, elegant glasses, arrogant attitude, fine manners and clothing, the Qu’ran lying on their bed along with C.D.’s of Qu’ran readings. Typically, they learn a handful of conspiracy theories “proving” that the West, especially the US and the few million Jews left on this Earth, are the cause of all the problems in the Muslim world.
I did not keep statistics of any kind, but my experiences clearly reflect several research projects on Muslim identity in Europe. A French survey in Le Figaro showed that only 14 percent of the country’s estimated five million Muslims see themselves as “more French than Muslim.” Research made by the German Ministry of Interior shows that only 12 percent of Muslims living in Germany see themselves as more German than Muslim. A Danish survey published by the pro-Muslim pro-democratic organization Democratic Muslims led by the Danish PM and Muslim Naser Khader showed that only 14 percent of Muslims living in Denmark could identify themselves as “Democratic and Danish.” Naser Khader by the way also reviewed my book:
If integration just consists of learning the language and finding a job, it is not so difficult. But if integration also includes developing mental habits of equally respecting non-Muslims it is simply impossible for most Muslims. They see themselves as special, will always try to live together, create their own Muslim/Islamic parallel societies, feel separated and have less respect towards non-Muslims. True integration doesn’t have to, necessarily, imply religious conversion. However, for Muslims it certainly presupposes cultural conversion. Clearly, very few Muslims have the will, social freedom and strength of personality to go through such a psychologically demanding process.
Consequences of failed integration?
Things are not going in the direction of peace.