Central Europe has not been spared the existential uncertainty caused by the global financial crisis of 2008. Yet a revolt against democracy does not seem to be an option; the forces of globalization are too difficult to grasp concretely.
Rage, fear and frustration are the face of discontent, and Islam proves to be the perfect screen on which to project this primary emotion. Even during the greatest crisis in its history, Islam has always been an easy target. Between home grown fundamentalism and Western Islamophobia, Muslims and their historically rooted culture have turned into a caricature image for extremists on both sides of the divide. What rhetorical patterns express this image of Islam engendered by diffuse rage? Why is the anti-Islamic movement gaining adherents, especially among older, educated and affluent individuals least affected by the prevailing economic uncertainty? Is Europe in danger of creating an anti-Islamic fascism of the Enlightenment?
Stefan Weidner is a translator, author and journalist dedicated to mediating Arabic culture. He studied Islamic Studies, German studies and philosophy in Göttingen, Damascus, Berkeley and Bonn. Since 2001, Weidner has been editor-in-chief of the journal “Fikrun wa Fann / Art & Thought,” published by the Goethe-Institut. The aim of the journal is to promote a dialogue between Western and Islamic culture. His most recent work published by the Verlag der Weltreligionen is: Manual für den Kampf der Kulturen. Warum der Islam eine Herausforderung ist (Manual for the clash of civilizations. Why Islam is a challenge). In the winter semester 2009/2010, he will be the Schlegel-Visiting Professor for the Poetics of Translation at the FU Berlin.