Aiding and Abetting Islamic Vigilantism in Germany
The German lawyer Michael C. Schneider in Frankfurt am Main recently described his rather dangerous personal triangular relationship with his German bar regulators and his Muslim and left-wing enemies at the conservative German website Politically Incorrect (PI). It is an ominous tale with dangerous implications for free societies everywhere.
By way of introduction, Schneider writes that "for many years," he has given lectures and written treatises concerning "five thematic areas" that "particularly concern." These themes are namely that (1) "Christianity is largely destroyed, but a new motivating lead idea for the Occident is until now not in sight"; (2) "the ruling elite venerates the multicultural ideology and specifically imports enemies into Germany"; (3) "in the center of an undirected migration stands the importation of the barbaric, fascist ideology named sharia-Islam"; (4) "corrupt elites interest themselves not for the wellbeing of the people, but rather exclusively for their personal enrichment"; and (5) "bound up with the entry into the EU and the community currency Euro is the complete disappearance of democracy."
The "personal costs" described by Schneider for his public commentary "are enormous: clients take their leave because of fears of association with an 'extremist[,]'" and "anonymous callers from the leftwing-extremist and Islamic scene threaten straightaway with death." Schneider notes in particular that he began in early 2010 to post his writings at websites such as PI. With PI itself receiving 40,000-70,000 readers a day, Schneider's entries have brought him a "modest prominence in the anti-Islamic scene" but "also, on the other hand, some notoriety in the Islamic scene as a hostile caricature [Feindbild] and object of hatred." "Because many authors at PI publish anonymously," Schneider adds, "one takes hold of the few who do not."
Schneider's response to such threats has been to make his office and dwelling "anonymous." Schneider's law chancellery address, for example, now consists merely of an office in which Schneider is available only after an appointment arranged by telephone and clear identification of the visitor via a security camera built into the doorbell system.
Schneider's local bar association, though, has charged him with being in violation of section 27 of the Federal Lawyer Code (Bundesrechtsanwaltsordnung, or BRAO), which requires the physical maintenance of a chancellery within the bar region where a lawyer practices. As Schneider explains, he supposedly has no "orderly chancellery" because he is "not personally available at any time at the chancellery address."
In response, Schneider has protested that BRAO section 29 allows for a bar organization to make an exception to this chancellery requirement "in the interest of the practice of law or for the avoidance of hardships." "The endangerment of life and limb," Schneider comments, "is without doubt such a hardship." Yet in a response that Schneider is legally appealing, the president of the Frankfurt bar organization has written to Schneider that section 29 is inapplicable because Schneider "provokes" his "situation of endangerment anew over and over again" through his writings. "In other words," summarizes Schneider, "whoever provokes the militant political left and jihadist Islam is themselves guilty if his life comes into danger. He should have simply shut up. Freedom of opinion in the sense of the Basic Law [Grundgesetz, or German constitution] is not desired."
Past writings by me at venues such as the Middle East Forum's Legal Project (see here, for example) have concerned the phenomenon termed lawfare, or the continuation of warfare by legal means by militant Muslims against unfettered discussion of Islam in general and particular Muslim groups. Schneider's case, though, illustrates once again that such Muslims and their leftist allies need not utilize public laws as a means of coercion, but may also resort to private vigilantism. When public authorities, however, abdicate their proper protective functions with an inadequate response to private threats, an outsourcing of lawfare to individuals in effect takes place.
Such public acquiescence in, and therefore aiding and abetting of, private coercion is not without precedent in Islam. As the Egyptian-American apostate from Islam Nonnie Darwish notes in her 2012 book The Devil We Don't Know: The Dark Side of Revolutions in the Middle East (favorably reviewed by me, among others, at Amazon.com), "so-called moderate Muslim countries" use the "trick" of publicly proclaiming respect for human rights while turning a blind eye to the killing of apostates and others under traditional sharia norms by individual Muslims, who have under Islamic law, "in many cases, the right to be judge and executioner." Darwish thus sees "[c]laims that Muslim society is unable to suppress terrorist groups" as "unrealistic and hypocritical" in light of these "little dictators in all ranks of society."
"If Muslim society treated its terrorists the same way it treats apostates," Darwish analyzes, "the world would have no Islamic terrorism problem." "While apostates are never allowed to form organizations or congregate," Darwish elaborates, "terrorists have offices all across the Muslim world and under fictitious names in the West. Something is very with this picture and it does not reflect well on Islam."
Free societies and their authorities such as the bar organization in Frankfurt, whatever their motives and analysis, would do well to consider such facts. Defeating Islamist lawfare requires not only stopping legal sins of commission through the use of statutes to prohibit free speech, but also avoiding sins of omission with respect to lax legal precautions against individual Muslim acts of violence targeting individuals like Schneider, who rightfully refuse to simply keep their mouths shut.