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Opinion: One year after the Cologne assaults - Stop apologizing for political Islam

That authorities will deploy 1,500 police officers in Cologne on New Year's Eve is proof that the German way of life has been compromised. Political Islam continues to pose a big threat, says DW's Shamil Shams.

The response I received to my January 11, 2016 article about sexual assaults in Cologne on New Year's Eve was overwhelming. The piece went viral, with most people lauding me for the courage I had shown in opposing the menace of political Islam in Europe. But many Muslims and those on the liberal-left criticized me for not being empathetic toward the plight of refugees. Nonetheless, I continued to write and advocate for Western secularism, ignoring the criticism.

One year after the Cologne attacks, I stand by my argument that political Islam and Western liberal values are not compatible. I still believe that the migrant influx ultimately disturbs the harmony and balance of German society. In fact, 2016 has proven that German society and the European way of life have suffered immensely due to the government's "open door" refugee policy.

Shams Shamil Kommentarbild App

DW's Shamil Shams

More than 1,500 police officers will be deployed on New Year's Eve in Cologne to make sure that last year's assaults - when more than 1,000 women were sexually harassed by hundreds of young men allegedly of North African and Arab descent - won't be repeated. It is saddening and outrageous. It is proof that the German way of life - people's longing for fun and festivity - has already been compromised. The fear of harassment has taken over the free spirit of Germans, and I find it very unfortunate.

There will be more surveillance in public spaces all across Germany - and in other European countries - because we have allowed political Islam to make inroads into German society. At the same time, far-right populist groups have gained unprecedented strength across Europe. The anti-refugee Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has won more supporters than it could imagine a year ago. All in all, Western secularism has been hugely compromised because European governments continue to ignore the threat of political Islam. Yet, the German government is somewhat apologetic to Muslims.

And why should Germany be apologetic? For opening its borders to refugees? For treating them well, providing them shelter and a stipend so that they can live a decent life in the country?

Not an isolated incident

What happened in Cologne last year was not an isolated incident, as many Muslims, liberals and Marxists want to tell us. In May, 18 women were sexually assaulted at a music festival. Police arrested three asylum-seekers from Pakistan in connection with the incident.

In October, a 17-year-old Afghan refugee allegedly raped and murdered a 19-year-old medical student in the city of Freiburg. Maria was one of the many Germans who not only welcomed refugees but also volunteered to help them settle in a foreign land. I agree that we shouldn't paint all refugees with the same brush, but there is something which we are ignoring - accepting refugees without thoroughly checking their backgrounds and not paying attention to a political ideology that is responsible for an unprecedented surge in extremism, misogyny and hatred toward the West in many Muslim-majority countries.

It is not just refugees who harbor resentment against Western culture; many Muslim expats, who have been living in Europe for decades, unfortunately believe in the same ideology. Talk to them about the Syrian conflict, and they blame the West. Talk to them about Afghanistan, and they complain about US intervention. Although nobody can deny the West's role in aggravating the situation in the Middle East and other Muslim countries, this sort of thing is definitely not restricted to the Muslim world. Latin America and Africa, too, have suffered immensely due to a hegemonic capitalist onslaught. But most Muslims refuse to accept their own responsibility in the fiasco.

When people like me oppose political Islam - in the West as well as in our own countries - we are considered traitors by Muslims. When we say that Saudi-Wahhabi Islam - and the equally repressive Islamic Republic of Iran - is responsible for the rise of intolerance and fanaticism across the world, we are dubbed "Western agents." When we speak against the "burqa" or "burkini" as symbols of women's subjugation and male dominance, the liberal-left says we are against "free choice" for women.

Berlin - Trauer nach dem Anschlag in Berlin (picture alliance / NurPhoto)

Whether we like it or not, asylum-seekers have been involved in heinous acts

No, we can't and shouldn't allow Salafism and similar hardline ideologies to take root in Europe, or anywhere in the world. Those who want to make us believe that political Islam believes in diversity and pluralism can't fool us. Those who argue in favor of giving more space to extremist ideologies - be it Islamic or Christian - in Europe or elsewhere, should be resisted. It is not a fight between Islam and the West; it is a battle between secularism and fundamentalism. Unfortunately, fundamentalism now dominates Muslim societies, and political Islam's global ambitions are no secret.

Pay heed to people's concerns

The West must take in refugees who are in dire need of help. At the same time, it has to be very cautious about political Islam, which is giving impetus to anti-secular and obscurantist groups in Germany. Extremist Islam and fundamentalist Christianity are two sides of the same coin.

Slovenian philosopher and political activist Slavoj Zizek has warned against this "double blackmail" in his book on the European refugee crisis - a must-read for those who are worried about the rise of far-right groups in Europe. In "Against Double Blackmail," he argues that European governments cannot ignore the concerns of their people, who feel that their interests are at stake due to the refugee influx.

Beefing up security in Cologne on New Year's Eve alone won't make people feel safe. And after the terrorist attack in Berlin, the issue in Germany is no longer about sexual harassment only. Whether we like it or not, asylum-seekers from Muslim countries have been involved in heinous acts. We have to call a spade a spade. We have apologized enough for political Islam.

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Watch video 01:11

Security in Cologne beefed up for New Year's Eve

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