The research and writings of Nicolai Sennels may have crucial, albeit exceptionally controversial and politically incorrect implications for understanding both the likely similarities as well as possible crucial differences between many Muslims and Westerners as far as politics, economics and religion are concerned. It is also important to include these postulations (even if clearly only imperfect generalizations) in any discussion as to how these cultural implications, where relevant, would affect the chances for a Muslim Reformation and the evolution of Islamic moderation.
Nicolai Sennels is a Danish psychologist who developed an unorthodox therapy at Sønderbro, the Danish youth prison. He taught the young prisoners about mindfulness meditation and developed a special program on anger management, focusing on teaching criminals with a low understanding of emotions and empathy, how to take responsibility for their own behavior. In 2008, the prisoners of Sønderbro voted the facility as the best prison in Denmark.
Seven out of ten inmates in the Danish youth prisons have immigrant backgrounds, and almost all of them are Muslims. Sennels was threatened by his superiors that if he were to discuss his experiences, he would risk losing his job.
Sennels decided in spite of the evident risks, to publish a book on his experiences, Among Criminal Muslims: A Psychologist's Experiences from the Copenhagen Municipality. Hereafter are selections from his interviews, which may be one-sided, may be hard-hitting, yet do open the door somewhat to issues often ignored:
Sennels: There are many differences between people brought up as Muslims and those who are brought up as Westerners. I identified four main differences that are important in order to understand the behavior of Muslims. They concern anger, self-confidence, the so-called "locus of control" and identity.
Westerners are brought up to think of anger as a sign of weakness, powerlessness and lack of self-control. "Big dogs don't have to bark," as we say in Denmark. In Muslim culture, anger is seen as a sign of strength. To Muslims, being aggressive is a way of gaining respect. When we see pictures of bearded men hopping up and down and shooting in the air, we should take it for what it is: the local madhouse passing by.
In Western culture, self-confidence is connected with the ability to meet criticism calmly and to respond rationally. We are raised to see people who easily get angry when criticized, as insecure and immature.
In Muslim culture it is the opposite; it is honorable to respond aggressively and to engage in a physical fight in order to scare or force critics to withdraw, even if this results in a prison sentence or even death. They see non-aggressive responses to such threats and violence as a sign of a vulnerability that is to be exploited. They do not interpret a peaceful response as an invitation to enter into a dialogue, diplomacy, intellectual debate, compromise or peaceful coexistence.
meaning that we see our own inner emotions, reactions, decisions and views as the main deciding factor in our lives. There may be outer circumstances that influence our situation, but in the end, it is our own perception of a situation and the way we handle it that decides our future and our state of mind. The "inner locus of control" leads to increased self-responsibility and motivates people to become able to solve their own problems. Muslims are brought up to have an "outer locus of control." Their constant use of the term inshallah ("Allah willing") when talking about the future, as well as the fact that most aspects of their lives are decided by outer traditions and authorities, leaves very little space for individual freedom.
Independent initiatives are often severely punished. This shapes their way of thinking, and means that when things go wrong, it is always the fault of others or the situation. Unfortunately, many Westerners go overboard with their self-responsibility and start to take responsibility for others' behavior as well. The mix of many Westerners being overly forgiving, their flexible attitude, and Muslim self-pity and blame is the psychological crowbar that has opened the West to Islamization (and consequent sympathy towards Shariah Law and Madrassas). Our overly protective welfare system shields immigrants from noticing the consequences of their own behavior and thereby learning from their mistakes and motivating them to improve.
This makes us less critical, impairs our ability to discriminate, and makes our societies open to the influence of other cultural trends and values that may not always be constructive. Muslims, on the other hand, are taught again and again that they are superior, and that all others are so bad that Allah will throw them in hell when they die.
While most Westerners find national and cultural pride embarrassing, Muslim culture's self-glorification achieves the opposite with their culture and identity.
In general, Westerners are taught to be kind, self-assured, self-responsible and tolerant, while Muslims are taught to be aggressive, insecure and intolerant.
Integration in the West is dependent on motivation and freedom. Immigrants have to want to integrate, be allowed to by their family and friends.
People coming from cultures that are aimed mainly at physical survival, and in which religious practice and adherence to cultural traditions give more social status than having a good education and being self-supporting, usually are not very productive if they can live on the state. If on top of that, they can live in closed communities among others with the same culture and language, there is very little reason for them to get involved in our society. The only solution is to make the lack of integration so impractical and economically non-beneficial that the only attractive choice is to integrate or receive our offer of state-sponsored repatriation.
Through communal fear and coercion, the majority "voluntarily" prefer Sharia to integration.
Handling intellectually demanding jobs in our high-tech societies, it is not easy for people brought up to believe that the Qur'an and Hadith, not school and science, has the answers. Our workplaces demand that the employees are able to take initiative and be creative, difficult among people who are first of all expected to blindly submit and who live in surroundings that punish independent thinking and behavior, sometimes even with death.
Adams' and Maslow's views describe the goals and aims of the Western society as the full development of an individual's potential - this does not apply to Islam or the Muslim tradition. The aim of Islam and Muslims is dominance, not self-realization. Islam and Muslim culture is an aggressive movement, and giving space to female qualities such as sensitivity and empathy would be a hindrance.
Diplomacy, compromise, tolerance, democracy, compassion, sensitivity and empathy have to be locked away both on an internal and external level. On the outside, the oppression of women limits their influence, and their aversion against femininity in the outer world helps Muslims to also repress it inside themselves on the psychological level.
Oppression of women is thus a psychological method of hardening a culture on the outside and people on the inside.
The other reason why Muslims oppress women and female sexuality, is the fact that women are simply stronger when it comes to sex. And it does not work for omnipotent, jealous and insecure Muslim macho-men that they in the most naked and vulnerable situation of all are the weaker party. Muslim men compensate for this by oppressing their women and locking them up in apartments and ugly clumsy garments. In many Muslim societies, a women's ability to enjoy sex is simply destroyed by clitorectomy via a knife or a piece of glass.
True love can only exist on the basis of respect and equality. The emotional and sexual frustration that results from the inequality of the sexes and being forced to marry a partner that one does not love surely contribute to the aggression and emotional immaturity. As one said, "forced marriage is the earthquake and what follows is a tsunami of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, child protection issues, suicide and murder."
Muslim culture's degrading view of non-Muslims functions in the same way as war propaganda. By hearing again and again how evil, disgusting and unworthy the enemy is, empathy is removed, aggression is strengthened, and the step towards harming the perceived enemy becomes smaller.
Islam does not strive for freedom, happiness and love. Islam strives for the submission of Muslims to Allah and of non-Muslims to Muslims - a dark, cold and humorless world where men are forced to mistreat their women and everybody is a slave to a god whose only wish is the enforcement of Sharia down to the very last comma. They do what they can to reach their final solution, and we must do what we can to prevent it from happening.
We in Denmark are worried about the freedom of our women and the future of our children, and about our constitutions. And we know that the first and in many cases also the biggest victims of Islam are Muslims.
Our politicians and media aim for the soft middle in society in order to be reelected and to sell newspapers and ads, and it is therefore up to ordinary people to protect our values, society and constitution and not fear to lose a few politically correct friends on the way.
You can find more of Mr. Sennels' writing here:
Muslims and Westerners: The Psychological Differences
His book is Among Criminal Muslims - A Psychologist's Experiences in Working for the Municipality of Copenhagen.
Leslie J. Sacks