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Photo by politikdigital (Flickr CC)
You know that old racist uncle you have? The one who says he's not racist but Muslims do have smaller brains? You know when he says something in public and you laugh slightly too loud and glance at people within earshot and wince apologetically?
Well, imagine how much you'd cringe if he was the interior minister of the country you're living in and in charge of "integration policy" and he had to come up with anti-terrorist campaigns?
If you don't have an uncle like that, don't worry, you don't have to strain your imagination. All you have to do is look at Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich and imagine he is your uncle. Imagine that. Hold that explosion of embarrassment in your brain.
This week, Friedrich presented the worst ever anti-terrorist campaign anyone has ever thought of. In the history of everything. It consisted of four fake missing persons notices, showing Turkish- and Arab-looking teenagers, with a message from their fictional families, saying, “This is our son Ahmad. We miss him, because we don't recognize him anymore. He is withdrawing more and more, becoming more radical every day. We are afraid of losing him altogether – to religious fanatics and terrorist groups." Then there is the appeal to call the government's new "Radicalization Advice Centre". (In case you're wondering, there is no equivalent campaign aimed at the teenagers becoming neo-Nazis. Why would there be? It's not as if there have been any high-profile neo-Nazi murderers in the news recently.)
Among the people annoyed by this stereotyping was the German Turkish community organization TGD, whose president Bekir Yilmaz said: "In my opinion, this is a humiliation for the Muslims who live in Berlin and Germany."
In the wake of the campaign, Islamic societies withdrew their cooperation with the Interior Ministry's "Security Partnership Initiative", which these posters were supposed to be a part of. Apparently they are starting to get tired of constantly having to prove they're not terrorists. Or something. They're so lazy.
You might think that working together with community organizations might be important when you're fighting radicalization and extremism. It might at least be good to get their approval. But these Muslims forgot one thing, which is not surprising because their brains are so small. Friedrich didn't need Muslims telling him how Muslims might be prevented from becoming extremists. Being a white middle-aged German politician, he has a very powerful, vivid imagination and can easily imagine all the thoughts and needs of an average Muslim family. He just has to close his eyes and they're all there right in front of him. He sometimes almost scares himself, because the image in his head is so real. He can smell their food and everything. By this show of mental power, Friedrich worked out that if he puts up some fake missing persons notices, most Muslim families will most likely stop their kids from joining al-Qaeda. Obviously cooperation with the communities is a good thing, but they should cooperate with us, not the other way round. That doesn't make any sense.