Mina Ahadi, founder of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims, spoke with DW-WORLD.DE about her organization's goals, Germany's approach to the Muslim community and the unreformability of Islam.
Mina Ahadi is under police protection in Germany after her group received death threats
You founded the so-called Central Council of Ex-Muslims with 30 other people. How did this idea begin, and what are your goals?
Currently there are 150 of us. Just 20 days ago, there were only 30 of us. For about a year, we've been meeting with various human rights organizations, like the International League of Non-Religious and Atheists.
We've always tried to maintain a unified voice when topics like honor killings, headscarves or religion classes come up in Germany. We've tried to present our position, but there've been very few opportunities to do so. The media hasn't taken us seriously.
There's a stereotype that all people from Iran, Turkey and so on are all the same and are all Muslims. So we decided to find a way that is provocative and gets people's attention, because we don't agree with the policies of the German government or with those of the Muslim organizations.
So you have political goals?
We're waving a flag that says, "Stop! Not in our name." We don't believe that the Muslim organizations represent the people from Iran, Turkey, Iraq and so on. They themselves are the problem. They represent political Islam in Germany.
The German government should not get involved with the Muslim organizations, said Ahadi
Secondly, we don't think that the German government should start anything with the Muslim organizations. If you look closely, you'll see that these organizations represent a policy of separation between natives and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims. They say that Muslims and Islam are unique. They represent shari'a law, a law that is hostile to women, children's headscarves, religions classes, and honor killings in Germany.
They cannot talk about integration. Integration means that people are people and should have an opportunity to stay and live here -- regardless of where they come from, which religion they belong to and what color skin they have.
These people's main identity is a religious identity, and that's an entirely different direction than integration.
Is it necessary to turn away from Islam in order to support the struggle of your organization?
On the one hand, there is political Islam, which is why we have the political demand that the Muslim orgnizations not get involved in politics or everyday life.
Secondly, there is the religion itself. We believe that many people in European countries have managed to be critical and put religion back into the private sphere and not make it a political issue. I don't think that Germany is a purely secular state. Church and state are quite separate here, although I'm very critical of religion in Germany.
Our organization seeks to educate people that they don't need religion to be happy in this world, but that religion can theoretically be a restriction.
We have turned away from religion and from Islam because Islam is very problematic and is a movement that meddles in our lives and in politics. That's why we've decided to take this path and be provocative, and we've been successful.
You've said that you don't want the German government to sit at the same table with the Central Council of Muslims. The Central Council represents three million Muslim, and you represent only 150.
But that is only the beginning. And no one in Germany has done a survey to find out who feels represented by the Central Council of Muslims. In the future, I would like to find out how many people agree with the the Central Council. We represent the unreligious -- all those who don't identify with the Central Council.
An estimated 3.5 million Muslims live in Germany
Are you afraid of the Islamic extremists?
I'm not new in this area. I've had problems with the Islamic organizations for a long time. In Iran I was sentenced to death -- and the sentence is still valid. Now I have a second death sentence for appealing to people to express their approval or disapproval of the Central Council.
I don't think you can let yourself be intimidated, although these organizations have a lot of power. Terror is a very important instrument of these organizations. But they have millions of critics in Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt and in Germany.
Are you against all religions, or just against Islam?
I'm against all religions.
Do you see a possible to reform and modernize Islam without abandoning it completely?
I don't think that Islam can be reformed -- and other religions can't be either. Those who want to reform Islam can be my guest, but many have tried it and been unsuccessful. On the other hand, the modernizaton and reformation of Islam is a policy move on the part of certain European governments, in my opinion. It's just a way to justifiy working together with Islamic governments. Political Islam can't be reformed, it has to be answered with a social movement.