The Tundra Tabloids apologizes for not posting this sooner. Special thanks to Henrik for the heads up. Danish psychologist, Nicolai Sennels was interviewed by Hommaforum, a Finnish forum website that debates, discusses and disseminates information concerning immigration and Islamic fundamentalist related issues in Finland. Here is part of that interesting interview which was first published at Hommaforum. KGS
Nicolai, can you give a short version of your life story?
I was born in 1976 and grew up far out in the countryside in Denmark. During my studies in Copenhagen I worked as a social worker with teenagers. I also worked as a semi-professional rock musician for a couple of years while studying psychology at the university. I have worked with troubled youngsters all my adult life. It has always been very easy for me to like them, connect to them and help them. I have developed new kinds of therapies, especially for Muslims, and my methods have been mentioned positively in several professional magazines, newspapers and on the radio.
When did your interest in integration and Islam start?
Ten years ago we had a horrible case in Denmark. Four young Muslim boys dragged a young woman by her hair all through the biggest shopping street – Strøget – in Copenhagen and tried to rape her. Even though she was screaming and it was clear that something was terribly wrong, nobody did anything to stop it. Imagine that: a young woman being dragged through the most busy street in Denmark – with lots of bystanders – and nobody tries to stop it. Not actively trying to stop a bad thing happening – even if you risk that your collegues, friends or family think critically about you or you may get yourself a blue eye – is probably the worst thing one can do to one’s own self-confidence, personal ethics and humanistic values. If we are only willing to help the weak when it is without any risk for ourselves, we are useless cowards. Today this help is not so often physical – even though all men should learn to fight, either in martial arts or in the territorial army – but intellectual. Writing letters to newspapers, blogs, telling one’s honest thoughts when the talk on Islam or immigration starts in the lunch break at work – all this is very helpful. Being passive while women are treated bad and failed integration threatens to drag down our cultural values and welfare societies is failing to live up to our responsibility as humans. Especially men should take their role as protector of women very seriously.
Anyway, as most other Danish, I was shocked about the rape story. Both the brutality and the fact that nobody helped that poor woman was devastating to me. Before this incident my ears were closed to those who critizised Islam and Muslim immigration but from then on I started listening with a more serious attitude. At that time I was still sure that successful integration was just a matter of time and that social injustice was the main responsible for the ethnic tensions. I was also too nervous about getting criticized to share my worries with others. Today things are different: I no longer vote for the Social Democrats. I also no longer care what people think of my opinions about Muslim culture etc. I am also no longer passive – I feel a responsibility for defending suppressed Muslim women, our freedoms and for showing people that we can say exactly what we think about Islam and Muslim immigration.
By the way, just as a footnote: it accidentally turned out that three of these four Muslim boys were sentenced to live for a period at the institution where I worked at that time. Confused, insecure young men with the too typical Muslim male chauvanistic attitude and strong victim mentality and no real values in life except getting as much as they could with as little effort as possible.
Tell us about your conflict with the municipality of Copenhagen.
Well, after working for several years with both Danish and Muslim children and teenagers, it was very clear to me that there are certain very deep psychological differences between these two cultures. These differences are without doubt so deep that Muslims will have to leave many of their core values behind if they are to integrate in our societies and feel Danish, Finnish, German, etc.
As a psychologist with special knowledge about criminality and foreigners I was invited by Copenhagen’s mayor of integration to participate in a conference on integration at the city hall. The discussion was about criminal foreigners, foreigners and integration, foreigners and terror, foreigners and parallel societies, etc. I got irritated about the way the discussion went, because everybody generalized all foreigners as if they came from the same culture. I argued that the main part of the problematic foreigners have Muslim background and that we should discuss the meaning of culture when trying to find causes and solutions. This was far too strong for both the mayor and most of the people attending the conference. Another discussion at the conference was that we should try to help criminal foreigners find peace in their life by inviting them to become more religious. Here I reminded the mayor and the others about the many passages in the Quran that actually bid Muslims to do criminal acts – and that several Mosques in Copenhagen are known to be very extremistic. Again this was more than the politicians could handle.
I have later debated with the mayor of Copenhagen on my blog ”The Cultural Cleft” on Jyllands-Posten. I started the debate because he promised to pay the Muslims’ religious festivals if they helped him get reelected at the local elections on November 17th. He – by the way – did not get reelected. The new mayor, Klaus Bondam, is unfortunately an even worse choice. Since he is a homosexual and wears makeup, I guess he will have a hard time communicating with the Muslim society.
Why is it so difficult to have a dialogue with Muslims about the high crime rate and integration problems?
The reason has to do with cultural psychology. In Muslim culture people see their lives mainly as controlled by outside factors – Islam, Allah, the imam, the father of the family, cultural norms and traditions, society, and – when the experience problems – especially non-Muslims and non-Muslim authorities. In our Western culture, it is in many ways the opposite. Here we see ourselves as being in control of our own life. We see our motivation, view on things, way of thinking, communicating and acting as the most important factors deciding our lives. This is why we have so many psychologists and therapists, a great number of social sciences, tons of self help books, etc. – all of which are aimed at our inner life and build on the view that we create and change our own life ourselves. You do not have all these things and also not this view in Muslim culture. If you have a problem as a Muslim, you are not raised to think, ”What am I doing wrong since I always end up in trouble?” In the Muslim culture you look outside yourself: ”Who did this to me or my life?”
With this way of thinking you always see ourself as the victim and somebody or something outside yourself as the cause of your problems. Bernard Lewis, the famous professor in Islamic history, has observed the same cultural difference. In his words Westerners asks themselves, ”What did I do wrong?” and Muslims asks, ”Who did this to me?”
Therefore many Muslims do not think that they create the problems. And talking about a person’s problems with somebody who thinks that everything is everybody else’s fault is not easy…
Does the upbringing have anything to do with criminal behaviour?
Upbringing has everything to do with criminal behaviour. Well brought up people in general have good self confidence, a generally good mood and constructive ways of solving their problems – and they find it easy to love and be useful for themselves and others.
As an experienced professional psychologist within the field I can tell you that most criminals have a lot of anger, insecurity and very little ability to feel empathy. An important question is of course: why are many Muslims brought up in a way that makes them criminal?
Let me answer that question with an analogy. Some families are healthy for children to grow up in. They develop a sense of self-responsibility, they develop empathy and learn that destructive emotions such as anger, jealousy, revenge, etc. are negative and should be controlled and dealt with. Some families are unhealthy for children to grow up in: they become inflexible and unable to adjust to social rules, they become careless of others and themselves, etc. In this way all families have their own culture, their own emotional and cultural environment, which shapes the people growing up in it. Just as families have different cultures and can be healthy or unhealthy for people’s developement, so can whole cultures.
There is no doubt that the Muslim culture in general is unhealthy to grow up in. Its admiration of anger, its suppression of female qualities (in psychology known as ”femina”), its very insecure relationship to honor, its victim mentality and its lack of focus on individual reflexion on the connection between one’s own behaviour and one’s own problems very easily create immature and aggressive individuals with low self conficence.
Are your professional observations seen as political instead of sheer observations of a professional psychologist?
Of course I and also my book have been criticized. As you can hear, I say things straight out. But those who criticize me have either no experience with working professionally with Muslims or are Muslims themselves. When I do lectures for school teachers and social workers on schools with many Muslims, they all agree with me. At those occassions it is not at all a question of whether I am right or wrong – because they have exactly the same observations as I do. At those lectures we go directly to the solutions. The Danish magazine for professional Danish psychologists, PsykologNyt, recently reviewed my book. The review was very positive, stating that it is ”a provoking eye-opener, convincing and well founded with many concrete examples”. Several national newspapers also wrote positively about the book and even our most famous Muslim politician, Naser Khader, who has himself written a book on Muslim culture, was very favourably disposed. Khader states that ”the professional expertise that Nicolai Sennels has is exceptional and the clear examples in his book make it a must-read for all teachers and social workers”. Among people who have experience with Muslims, I am clearly seen as a experienced professional psychologist.