Sheldon Kirshner

Common Sense From Germany’s Vice Chancellor

Common sense is a quality all too often in short supply among politically correct politicians. Sigmar Gabriel, the vice chancellor of Germany and the leader of the left-of-center Social Democratic Party, is clearly not one of them.

Taking aim recently at the phenomenon of Islamic radicalism in Germany, a country which has admitted more than one million Muslim migrants since 2015, Gabriel spoke to the truth when he called for a government crackdown on Muslim extremism.

As he told Der Spiegel recently, “Salafist mosques must be banned, communities dissolved and (its) preachers expelled as soon as possible.” He added, “Those who encourage violence do not enjoy the protection of religious freedom.”

Gabriel did not pluck these words out of thin air.

According to Gabriel, about 50 percent of the foreigners who’ve gone to Syria in recent years to join Islamic State, the notorious jihadist organization, have been German citizens.

This is a sobering statistics that cannot be swept under the rug.

It’s true that many would-be jihadists in Europe are recruited online by Islamic State. But it’s equally true they’ve already been brainwashed by the time they surf the Internet. These impressionable young men have come under the influence of their elders, their peers and their imams.

They’re led to believe that the West is hopelessly venal and corrupt, that infidels like Christians and Jews must embrace Islam or die, that Jews are a source of evil, that Israel must be eradicated and that Islam is the purest and best of religions.

Although these reactionary ideas have infiltrated into Muslim communities throughout Europe, creating dangerous enclaves of disaffection, far too many mainstream politicians have remained silent or minimized the danger, fearing they will be branded Islamophobic racists.

Thankfully, Gabriel is not one of those spineless politicians.  Recognizing that Islamic extremism is one of the scourges of our times, he told Der Spiegel he hews to a policy of zero tolerance toward its misguided acolytes.

Tellingly enough, Gabriel’s made these comments shortly after Anis Amri, a 24-year-old asylum seeker, petty criminal and Islamic state sympathizer, drove a truck into a Christmas market in the center of Berlin, killing 12 shoppers, including an Israeli woman.

A Tunisian national, Amri had been under surveillance by German authorities, who knew he was linked to the radical Islamist network in Germany — which supposedly has about 9,000 members — and suspected he may have been up to no good. Despite their suspicions, German counter-terrorism officials failed to act. They did not apprehend Amri before he went on his deadly rampage.

It was a fatal oversight, considering the fact that Germany has of late been rocked by a succession of attacks perpetrated by Muslim radicals. Since last winter, more than a dozen people have been injured in such incidents.

Painfully cognizant of the problem Germany faces today, Chancellor Angela Merkel, in her New Year address, promised to conduct a review of the security services. It’s a step in the right direction, but little or no progress will be made unless the German government fully recognizes the need to pay heed to Gabriel’s pragmatic prescription for dealing with Islamic extremism.

If they reject Gabriel’s sound advice, Germans will pay a heavy price for their negligence.

About the Author
Sheldon Kirshner is a journalist in Toronto. He writes at his online journal,