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Among Criminal Muslims

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Posted on May 5 2010 3:25 am
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by Jamie Glazov

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Nicolai Sennels, a Danish psychologist who worked for several years with young criminal Muslims in a Copenhagen prison. He is the author of Among Criminal Muslims. A Psychologist’s Experience from the Copenhagen Municipality. The book will be out in English later this year…

FP: Expand a bit on the differences between Muslim and Western cultures in terms of self-confidence.

Sennels: The concept of honor in the Muslim culture is – just like in the case with anger – opposite of our Western view. It is common in the Muslim culture to be exceedingly aware of one’s status in the group, other peoples’ view of oneself and any signs of any kind of criticism. The aggressive response to anything that can make one insecure is seen as an expression of honorable behaviour. But what is honorable about that? What kind of honor needs to be defended by all means necessary – including the abolishment of women’s human rights, such as the right to pick their own sexual partners, clothes, husband and life style? What is honorable about anger and the lack of ability to ignore provocations and handle criticism constructively?

After listening to more than a hundred Muslim teenagers telling their stories about their feelings, thoughts, reactions, families, religion, culture, the life in their Muslim ghettos and their home countries, it became clear to me that to a Muslim such behavior is the very core of keeping one’s honor. But seen through the eyes of Western psychology, it is all an expression of a lack of self-confidence. According to our view, the base of being authentic and honorable is to know one’s strengths and weakness – and accepting them. The ability to think “your opinion about me, not mine – and mine counts to me” when provoked and being mature enough to handle criticism constructively is a source of social status in the Western world.

Unfortunately, the Muslim concept of honor transforms especially their men into fragile glass-like personalities that need to protect themselves by scaring their surroundings with their aggressive attitude. The show of so-called narcissistic rage is very common among Muslims. The fear of criticism is in many cases not far from paranoia. It is not without reason that self-irony and self-criticism is completely absent in the Muslim societies. Seen from a psychological perspective – whose aim is to produce self-confident, happy, free, loving and productive individuals; and not to please a hateful God or culture traditions – Muslim culture is in many ways psychologically unhealthy to grow up in.

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