from Slavoj Žižek webchat – as it happened (8 Oct 2014)
What is your opinion of this week’s controversy and discussion in the US about the nature of the Islamic “threat” to Western societies and whether the threat is not only from the radical jihadists, but also includes most--if not all--of moderate Islam, which tacitly supports Jihadists or at least does not oppose their beliefs and intentions, and which supports the subjugation of women in their societies, including genital mutilation. The Quran and most of Islam seems to support censorship and execution of Danish cartoonists and the death penalty for “apostasy.”
It has been stated that Islam “is the motherlode of bad ideas.”
Do you in any way agree with this statement?
"First as to the threat to Europe. The real threat to Europe is not an external one. Islamists or other external enemies, it comes from within. It's the anti-immigrant populism which on behalf of defending Europe rejects precisely what is worth fighting for in the European legacy. As for Islam, I think it's basically the same as with other religions, all religions are opportunistic. Their founder usually said some great things about love and tolerance, but then just to make it safe, he added something about the right to kill those who don't believe. Like Christ said, love your neighbour, but then also said I don't bring peace, I bring war. So to be very clear, I do totally oppose today's Muslim fundamentalism.
But with a couple of additions: first, we should be aware that we also have in our highly developed societies, our own Christian fundamentalism which can also be violent. According to the FBI, they have 2 million Americans under observation, as potential Christian fundamentalists. So the problem is what is it in today's capitalism that generates fundamentalism?
Second point: it's interesting to look a little bit at the history of Islam. For example today of course, the position of women at least in many Muslim states is intolerable for us. But in medieval times, the position of women in Muslim states was at least marginally better than in Europe of that time. As for tolerance, and anti-semitism, I remember that in ex-Yugoslavia, the only city with really large percentage of Jewish population was Sarajevo. Why? Because the Muslims tolerated them, in contrast to us Christians! So again, I do not reject analysing how today's fundamentalist violence is justified by Muslim fundamentalism. I think it's the same as with paedophilia and the Catholic church: I'm just saying we have to be historically specific, and we have to apply the same criteria to all religions."