February 5. 2016
In a recent episode of the ‘Forum on Friday’, a broadcast by the German public TV channel ZDF aimed to offer a forum for discussion for issues of importance to the country’s Muslim community, the psychologist and activist Ahmad Mansour discussed his new book Generation Allah: Why We Need to Rethink the Fight against Religious Extremism. Building on his experience as a social worker with Muslim youth in the Neukölln borough of Berlin, Mansour observes a strong growth of religious observance among young Muslims in Germany. In certain milieus, Salafi ideas with a violent undercurrent have made much headway, leading to the formation of what Mansour terms the ‘Generation Allah’. Instead of relying on punitive and exclusionary measures, however, Mansour urged a constructive dialogue with these ‘lost children’: rather than treating them solely as a threat to be dealt with by police and security services, these youths need to be taken seriously. Educational opportunities offering a more sophisticated take on Islam must be strengthened, or so Mansour argued, in order to develop positive alternatives to Salafi groups.
At the same time, the interview also demonstrated the complexity of this topic in general and the difficulties it poses for German Muslims in particular. Most notably perhaps, the interviewing journalist criticised the book’s title as well as its cover design: they seemed to him to be pandering to media stereotypes and current fears about religious terrorism in order to increase the book’s sales.