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"The women there say: We feel betrayed by the whole world"

WORLD: Mr.

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"The women there say: We feel betrayed by the whole world"

WORLD: Mr. Khorchide, you head the Center for Islamic Theology at the University of Münster and, together with 25 imams, have addressed the public and the Taliban with an objection to the university ban for women in Afghanistan. Their argument: According to the Prophet, education is a "religious duty for every man and woman". Can you argue with scripture that everyone interprets differently?

Mouhanad Khorchide: It's true, the Koran can be interpreted either way. But we think that the statements in the Koran and in the prophetic tradition tend towards women's rights, equality between men and women much more than the other way around - especially when it comes to education. It would be difficult for the Taliban to argue against the Mohammed quote we chose.

However, it is also important for us to make a clear commitment to the German public: We, as imams in Germany, do not identify with the Islam of the Taliban. To counter the Taliban, fundamentalists in general: You do not possess the absolute truth about Islam, there are possibilities for interpretation, that is the goal.

WORLD: Is it even possible to use theology to counter radicalism?

Khorchide: Theology alone is not enough. Religion is only one dimension in the fight against radicalism, including among the Taliban. The other dimensions are economics and politics. Our appeal to politicians is: within these two dimensions, they have influence and must exercise it. If European, Western countries were to build up pressure on this scale, they could persuade the Taliban to give women back their rights. Not for theological reasons, but because they are economically forced to survive.

WORLD: Is German foreign policy committed enough?

Khorchide: There is more watching than actually doing anything in the whole world community. Obviously, many countries are only interested in questions of their own security. Hardly anyone is interested in how the people in Afghanistan are doing.

WORLD: Are you in contact with local Afghans?

Khorchide: I am in close contact with Afghans in Germany, unfortunately not on site. But those who are in Germany have relatives in Afghanistan. They report what happens to women in Afghanistan every day. In recent weeks there have been rapes by the Taliban, of which we have hardly heard here. The Taliban also legitimize rape in the name of religion.

My contacts here also tell me how frustrated the local women are, how powerless and helpless they feel simply watching this regime, having to put up with it. The women there say: We feel betrayed and abandoned by the whole world. No one is interested in their concerns, not even in the Islamic world. It remains with statements, with appeals.

WORLD: A year ago, to put it cynically, we were still speculating: Maybe this time it won't be so bad, we are now dealing with the reform Taliban.

Khorchide: We had false hopes, me too. Just a year ago I was defending the Taliban, attesting to precisely this attitude toward reform. I fell for her. I have to take that back - nothing has changed at all: the Taliban of today are the Taliban of 20 years ago. Their agenda was, it's now obvious, from the start: picking up where they left off when they had to abdicate, specifically with the abolition of women's rights.

WORLD: Why, at least that is my impression, is your letter the first voice from Muslim civil society in Germany on Taliban rule?

Khorchide: As far as the Islamic associations are concerned, I see an imbalance. When it comes to discrimination against Muslims, such as a headscarf ban, the associations have to be heard very carefully. But when it comes to compulsory headscarves, as in Iran, for example, they are comparatively very quiet. This means that the associations are loud when it comes to their own interests. And I have a problem with that, because we have to act as a matter of principle and not only when it affects us personally here in Germany.

WORLD: Are there any deeper reasons for this imbalance and this silence? Is it fear of offending certain groups, fear of offending someone with criticism of Islam?

Khorchide: When it comes to the Taliban, geographical distance certainly plays a role. I spoke to some association representatives who said: Yes, and what is that to do with us? But as I said, the real problem is that people are not acting on principle, that it is seldom about the matter itself - in the case of the ban on education, women's rights. Instead, I get the impression that when representatives of Islam speak up, it's all about making political gain for themselves. This is done by portraying oneself as a victim of mainstream society.

This rhetoric has become stronger and stronger in recent years and polarizes society all the more, the more often it is presented in a moralizing tone and with a raised index finger.

WORLD: You have now launched an independent initiative called “Encounter between Imams, Science and Society”.

Read the full letter of the initiative here

Khorchide: It is long overdue for the imams to get involved in the debate about Islam as theologians. So far there has been no advocacy group for the imams in Germany, anywhere in Europe.

WORLD: The letter on the Taliban's anti-women policy was your first "action"; Which topics do you want to focus on within Germany?

Khorchide: We would like our association to be included as a contact in the commission for the organization of Islamic religious education in North Rhine-Westphalia. Taking it a step further, we want to help explore from a theological perspective: What do we mean by a European Islam? We want to show that we can justify and strengthen our values ​​such as democracy, diversity, women's rights and minority rights in the spirit of Islam. And we also hope that as many as possible will join us and our cause and that our initiative will result in a larger association representing as many Muslims in Germany as possible.

"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or directly via RSS feed.

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