by Nicolai Sennels
February 27th 2008. On a cold and windy Wednesday (for cyclists like myself), I took a deep breath, grabbed the microphone and did something that changed my life. In front of the Copenhagen Mayor’s Integration and Social Services Office there were gathered several journalists, a faithful Muslim musician from the famous MTV-band ‘Outlandish,’ dozens of Imams and Muslim spokesmen and a couple of hundred social workers with Muslim and Danish backgrounds. I began to say what everybody already knew, but, what nobody either wanted or dared to say: that those who are referred to as foreign criminals, religious extremists, or terrorists in the making and who are the cause of lawless parallel societies (what the conference “Diversity and Safety in the City” was about) are all Muslim. I argued that we should stop talking about “criminal foreigners” and start using the more precise term, “criminal Muslims.“ As a psychologist, having had more than a hundred Muslim clients, I told them that politicians and professional social workers need to understand the cultural and religious backgrounds of criminal foreigners. That is, if we want to come up with, at least, somewhat effective and targeted plans on how to reduce the social unrest, anti-democratic religious movements, the violent and anti-social forces among foreigners.
I was met with strong criticism from all sides and no support at all!
Just as most soldiers in the front lines die in the first attack, many of those who attacked political correctness have experienced negative professional or social consequences. I was no exception. The Mayor of Social Services was clear. I should either refrain from using stigmatizing expressions or find myself another job. Actually I was trying to stop the so-called stigmatization of all the non-Muslim immigrants by focusing on the one group that creates all the problems. But you can’t fight City Hall. Our biggest national newspapers and radio news programs got hold of the story and the mayor was strongly criticized by the media experts on free speech and by the Danish blog-sphere. For about a month there was not a day when my name was not
in one or more newspapers and the fighters for free speech took another round. I was no longer an anonymous psychologist. My name was known by everybody who read newspapers in Denmark and especially Islam-critical blogs on the internet put me in the spotlight.
Instead of keeping my mouth shut, I decided to write a book about my experiences with Muslims based on hundreds of therapy sessions. The whole circus that had happened concerning my case had already shown the necessity of breaking the taboos around criminal Muslims. Further, a serious discussion about the relationship between the Muslim culture and criminal, antisocial behavior is, indeed, very much needed. I managed to negotiate a deal that gave me four months severance pay. I am probably the first psychologist in Copenhagen who was offered $20,000 dollars for quitting his job voluntarily. I guess they just wanted to get rid of me, ASAP. I found a well-paying job as a Military psychologist doing psychological screening of soldiers returning from the war in Afghanistan. I also started writing my book, in which I describe a psychological profile of the Muslim culture. The title of the book is Among Criminal Muslims: A Psychologist’s Experiences from the Copenhagen Municipality. (Free Press Society, 2009).
After having consulted with 150 young Muslim clients in therapy and 100 Danish clients (who, on average, shared the same age and social background as their Muslim inmates), my findings were that the Muslims’ cultural and religious experiences played a central role in their psychological development and criminal behavior. “Criminal foreigners” is not just a generalizing and imprecise term. It is unfair to non-Muslim foreigners and generally misleading.
Discussing psychological characteristics of the Muslim culture is important. Denmark has foreigners from all over the world and according to official statistics from Danmarks Statistik
all non-Muslim groups of immigrants are less criminal than the ethnic Danes. Even after adjusting, according to educational and economic levels, all Muslim groups are more criminal than any other ethnic group. Seven out of 10, in the youth prison where I worked, were Muslim.
….Among Criminal Muslims is a provocative eye opener, convincing and well founded with many concrete examples.
The professional magazine for teachers of teenagers wrote:
Sennels’ reflections and critical discussion concerning our efforts towards young criminals deserves to be widely known.
Our biggest national news paper Jyllands-Posten, that printed the Mohammad cartoons, wrote:
The book is an original piece of pioneer work by focusing on the responsibility of the individual and involving the impact of religion in the shaping of the young person’s identity.
This is a summary of some of the things that I discovered.
Muslim culture has a very different view of anger and in many ways opposite to what we experience here in the West.
Expressions of anger and threats are probably the quickest way to lose one’s face in Western culture. In discussions, those who lose their temper have automatically lost, and I guess most people have observed the feeling of shame and loss of social status following expressions of aggression at one’s work place or at home. In the Muslim culture, aggressive behavior, especially threats, are generally seen to be accepted, and even expected as a way of handling conflicts and social discrepancies. If a Muslim does not respond in a threatening way to insults or social irritation, he, not “she” (Muslim women are, mostly, expected to be humble and to not show power) is seen as weak, as someone who cannot be depended upon and loses face.
In the eyes of most Westerners it looks immature and childish when people try to use threatening behavior, to mark their dislikes. A Danish saying goes “…Only small dogs bark. Big dogs do not have to.” That saying is deeply rooted in our cultural psychology as a guideline for civilized social behavior. To us, aggressive behavior is a clear sign of weakness. It is a sign of not being in control of oneself and lacking ability to handle a situation. We see peoples’ ability to remain calm as self confidence, allowing them to create a constructive dialogue. Their knowledge of facts, use of common sense and ability in producing valid arguments is seen as a sign of strength.
The Islamic expression of “holy anger” is therefore completely contradictory to any Western understanding. Those two words in the same sentence sound contradictory to us. The terror-threatening and violent reaction of Muslims to the Danish Mohammed cartoons showing their prophet as a man willing to use violence to spread his message, is seen from our Western eyes as ironic. Muslims’ aggressive reaction to a picture showing their prophet as aggressive, completely confirms the truth of the statement made by Kurt Westergaard in his satiric drawing.
This cultural difference is exceedingly important when dealing with Muslim regimes and organizations. Our way of handling political disagreement goes through diplomatic dialogue, and calls on Muslim leaders to use compassion, compromise and common sense. This peaceful approach is seen by Muslims as an expression of weakness and lack of courage. Thus avoiding the risks of a real fight is seen by them as weakness; when experienced in Muslim culture, it is an invitation to exploitation.
Locus of control
There is another strong difference between the people of Western and Muslim cultures; their locus of control. Locus of control is a psychological term describing whether people experience their life influenced mainly, by internal or external factors. It is clear from a psychological point of view that Westerners feel that their lives are mainly influenced by inner forces – ourselves. This is reflected in our points of view, our ways of handling our emotions, our ways of thinking, our ways of relating to people around us, our motivation, our surplus, and our way of communicating. These internal factors are what guide our lives and determine if we feel good and self confident or not. Every Western library has several meters of self help books. Every kiosk has dozens of magazines for both women and men that tell us how to create happier and more successful lives for ourselves. Our phone books have columns of addresses for psychologists, coaches and therapists. All these things are aimed at helping us to help ourselves create the life that we want. Some might argue that all this introspectiveness is too much and that just doing what is useful for oneself and others here-and-now would be more constructive, but this is how our culture is.
All these things do not exist in Muslim culture and countries. The very little psychiatry and psychology that is taught, in only a few universities in the Muslim world, is imported from the West. It is mostly taught by teachers educated at Western universities and does not have roots in the Muslim culture.
But Muslims have something else. They have strict external rules, traditions and laws for human behavior. They have a God that decides their life’s course. “Inshallah” follows every statement about future plans; if God wants it to happen. They have powerful Muslim clerics who set the directions for their community every Friday. These clerics dictate political views, child rearing behavior, and how or whether to integrate in Western societies.
The locus of control is central to our understanding of problems and their solutions. If we are raised in a culture where we learn that “…I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul,” as William Ernest Henley wrote in his famous poem Invictus in 1875; we will, in case of personal problems, look at ourselves and ask: “…What did I do wrong?” and “…What can I do to change the situation?” People who have been taught throughout their entire lives that outer rules and traditions are more important than individual freedom and self reflection, will ask: “Who did this to me?” and “Who has to do something for me?”
Thus, the locus of control is central to the individual’s understanding of freedom and responsibility. Even though our Christian based societies may, in certain situations, give too much emphasis on feelings of guilt; it also strengthens the individual’s sense of being able to take responsibility for, and change one’s own life. In societies shaped under Islamic and Qu’ranic influence there may be fewer feelings of guilt and thus, more freedom to demand the surroundings to adapt to one’s own wishes and desires. This may include demands to wear Islamic costumes which can result in more Muslim demands for Islamization of our Western societies, but it is also a powerful source of victim mentality and leads to endless demands on one’s surroundings. In a very concrete way this cultural tendency, shows itself in therapy, as a lack of remorse. The standard answer from violent Muslims was always: “…It is his own fault that I beat him up. He provoked me.” Such excuses show that people experience their own reactions as caused by external factors and not by their own emotions, motivation and free will. Even though one’s own feelings, when experiencing an insult, can be moderated by one’s own point of view, this kind of self reflection does not happen to the same degree among Muslims as it does among Westerners. It only takes one person to beat up another: the guy who is doing the hitting. It also only takes one person to feel insulted. Being beaten and feeling insulted are thus strictly different social events. The latter depends on ones self, while the former is solely caused by outer circumstances. Unfortunately, this fact is not considered in Muslim culture and apparently also not by the supporters of laws on hate speech, racism and defamation.
The difference in mentality is clearly stated by the old Indian proverb:
You can walk around softly everywhere by putting on a pair of shoes, or you can demand that the whole Earth becomes covered by soft leather.
It is a question of locus of control….
Filed under: Backwards, Barbaric, Evil, Existential threats, Islam | Tagged: Evil, Islam, sharia law, Western Civilization | Comments Off on Muslims and Westerners: The Psychological Differences