Interview by Robert Spencer of „Jihad Watch“
Nicolai Sennels regularly contributes to Jihad Watch, with articles on psychology and translations of Scandinavian and German news. To help you get to know Sennels better, we decided to do an interview.
Nicolai Sennels (born 1976) is a Danish psychologist. His first appearances in the Danish media concerned his unorthodox therapy methods that he developed as the only psychologist at Sønderbro, the youth prison (see here, here, here, here and here). He taught the young prisoners about mindfulness meditation and developed a special program on anger management. Sennels also developed a psychotherapeutic method that focused on teaching criminals with a low understanding of emotions and empathy how to take responsibility for their own behavior. In 2008, the prisoners of Sønderbro voted the facility as the best prison in Denmark. The leader of Social Services in the Copenhagen municipality concluded that this was due to the work of Nicolai Sennels (Amagerbladet, November 3, 2008).
At a conference on immigrant crime in 2008, arranged by the Copenhagen municipality, Sennels said that one should not use the term “criminal immigrants,” but “criminal Muslims,” since the majority of criminal immigrants have Muslim backgrounds. Seven out of ten inmates in the Danish youth prisons have immigrant backgrounds, and almost all of them are Muslims. Sennels was threatened that if he were to discuss his experiences, he would risk losing his job. This story developed into a national debate on the freedom of speech and became a widely discussed topic in the Danish media (please see here and here), and the Minister of Integration joined the discussion.
Sennels decided to publish a book on his experiences, Among Criminal Muslims. A Psychologist's Experiences from the Copenhagen Municipality, which was well received in both the official Psychologists Union's magazine and the newspapers. He found himself a new appointment at the Danish Ministry of Defense, and now once again he works as a psychologist for children and teenagers.
Sennels consulted on the case against Omar Khadr, a convicted terrorist serving in Guantanamo. He also contributed a chapter to the Dutch book Islam: Critical Essays on a Political Religion, along with Raymond Ibrahim, Hans Jansen, Michael Mannheimer, Ibn Warraq, Bat Ye’or and other renowned critics of Islam and Muslim immigration.
Spencer: Nicolai, people know you mainly for your articles on the psychological differences between Muslims and Westerners (please see here and here). You have also contributed your professional insights in the case against the Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr. You wrote several articles, as well as a book on your conclusions. Could you give us a brief account of your findings?
Sennels: There are many differences between people brought up as Muslims and those who are brought up as Westerners. I identified four main differences that are important in order to understand the behavior of Muslims. They concern anger, self-confidence, the so-called "locus of control" and identity.
Westerners are brought up to think of anger as a sign of weakness, powerlessness and lack of self-control. "Big dogs don't have to bark," as we say in Denmark. In Muslim culture, anger is seen as a sign of strength. To Muslims, being aggressive is in itself an argument and a way of gaining respect. But we should not be impressed when we see pictures of bearded men hopping up and down, shouting like animals and shooting in the air. We should take it for what it is: the local madhouse passing by.
In Western culture, self-confidence is connected with the ability to meet criticism calmly and to respond rationally. We are raised to see people who easily get angry when criticized, as insecure and immature. In Muslim culture it is the opposite; it is honorable to respond aggressively and to engage in a physical fight in order to scare or force critics to withdraw, even if this results in a prison sentence or even death. They see non-aggressive responses to such threats and violence as a sign of a vulnerability that is to be exploited. They do not interpret a peaceful response as an invitation to enter into a dialogue, diplomacy, intellectual debate, compromise or peaceful coexistence.
"Locus of control" is a term used in psychology, and relates to the way in which people feel that their lives are controlled. In Western culture, we are brought up to have an "inner locus of control," meaning that we see our own inner emotions, reactions, decisions and views as the main deciding factor in our lives. There may be outer circumstances that influence our situation, but in the end, it is our own perception of a situation and the way we handle it that decides our future and our state of mind. The "inner locus of control" leads to increased self-responsibility and motivates people to become able to solve their own problems. Muslims are brought up to have an "outer locus of control." Their constant use of the term inshallah ("Allah willing") when talking about the future, as well as the fact that most aspects of their lives are decided by outer traditions and authorities, leaves very little space for individual freedom. Independent initiatives are often severely punished. This shapes their way of thinking, and means that when things go wrong, it is always the fault of others or the situation. Unfortunately, many Westerners go overboard with their self-responsibility and start to take responsibility for others' behavior as well. The mix of many Westerners being overly forgiving, their flexible attitude, and Muslim self-pity and blame is the psychological crowbar that has opened the West to Islamization. Our overly protective welfare system shields immigrants from noticing the consequences of their own misbehavior and thereby learning from their mistakes and motivating them to improve.
Finally, identity plays a big role when it comes to psychological differences between Muslims and Westerners. Westerners are taught to be open and tolerant toward other cultures, races, religions, etc. This makes us less critical, impairs our ability to discriminate, and makes our societies open to the influence of other cultural trends and values that may not always be constructive. Muslims, on the other hand, are taught again and again that they are superior, and that all others are so bad that Allah will throw them in hell when they die. While most Westerners find national and cultural pride embarrassing, Muslim culture's self-glorification, massive use of inbreeding, the rule that only Muslims can marry Muslims and their all-pervading social control function as self-protecting mechanisms on the levels of culture and identity.
In general, Westerners are taught to be kind, self-assured, self-responsible and tolerant, while Muslims are taught to be aggressive, insecure, irresponsible and intolerant.
Spencer: That reminds me of my interactions with the likes of Reza Aslan, Salam al-Marayati, Moustafa Zayed, Ahmed Rehab, Mohamed Elibiary, Ahmed Afzaal, Omid Safi, Ibrahim Hooper, Caner K. Dagli, Haroon S. Moghul, Nadir Ahmed, and so many others. Can you give a psychological explanation as to why so few Muslims integrate into our societies?
Sennels: Integration is dependent on motivation, freedom and intelligence. In other words, immigrants have to want to integrate, be allowed to by their family and friends, and mentally have to be able to do this.
People coming from cultures that are aimed mainly at physical survival, and in which religious practice and adherence to cultural traditions give more social status than having a good education and being self-supporting, usually are not very productive if they can live on the state. If on top of that, they can live in closed communities among others with the same culture and language, there is very little reason for them to get involved in our society. The only solution is to make the lack of integration so unpractical and economically non-beneficial that the only attractive choice is to receive our offer of state-sponsored repatriation.
As history and Muslim societies have show us time and time again, there is no need for more bloody examples before the majority does as expected. Muslim societies only have to kill, rape, incarcerate, kidnap and beat a few, before the rest "voluntarily" prefer Sharia to integration.
Thirdly, handling intellectually demanding jobs in our high-tech societies, is not easy for people brought up to believe that the Qur'an and Hadith, not school and science, has the answers. Being brought up in a Muslim family also makes it difficult to adapt to Western social conduct at workplaces, including contact between the sexes and emotional control. The fact that almost half of all Muslims are inbred, often many generations in a row, also does not increase cognitive abilities. In most cases, our workplaces demand that the employees are able to take initiative and be creative and self-responsible, which are all human qualities that are not welcomed among people who are first of all expected to blindly submit and who live in surroundings that punish independent thinking and behavior, sometimes even with death.
Spencer: As a psychologist, what is your explanation as to why Muslims oppress women?
Sennels: I see two psychological explanations for the oppression of women in Islam.
John Adams, the USA's 2nd president, said that he studied warfare so that his children could study agriculture and their children could study art. Abraham Maslow formulated a similar idea, the "hierarchy of needs," which shows how we aim toward a state of full development, possessing complete inner and outer freedoms, spontaneous playful creativity and love for all.
While Adams's and Maslow's views describe the goals and aims of our Western society beautifully as the full development of an individual’s potential, they do not apply to Islam or Muslim tradition. The aim of Islam and Muslims is dominance, not self-realization. Islam and Muslim culture is an aggressive movement, and giving space to female qualities such as sensitivity and empathy would be a hindrance, since it would allow for less aggressive human tendencies to emerge. Diplomacy, compromise, tolerance, democracy, compassion, sensitivity and empathy have to be locked away both on an internal and external level. On the outside, the oppression of women limits their influence, and their aversion against femininity in the outer world helps Muslims to also repress it inside themselves on the psychological level. Oppression of women is thus a psychological method of hardening a culture on the outside and people on the inside.
The other reason why Muslims oppress women and female sexuality, is the fact that women are simply stronger when it comes to sex. And it does not work for omnipotent, jealous and insecure Muslim macho-men that they in the most naked and vulnerable situation of all are the weaker party. Muslim men compensate this by oppressing their women and locking them up in apartments and ugly clumsy garments. The more embarrassing it is for the man that the woman is stronger in this essential aspect of life, the more he must dominate her in daily life. I had contact with two prostitutes who both said that Arab men did not last very long in bed. In many Muslim societies, a women's ability to enjoy sex is simply destroyed by a knife or a piece of glass. The jealous fantasy of the man not being able to satisfy his lustful wife, who therefore looks down on him and may even go to other men to gain satisfaction, is an ongoing source of torment for the wanna-be almighty Muslim man.
True love can only exist on the basis of respect and equality. Muslim societies are therefore full of men and women who never experienced true, satisfying and giving love. The emotional and sexual frustration that results from the inequality of the sexes and being forced to marry a partner that one does not love surely contribute to the aggression and emotional immaturity that Muslims display whenever they are numerous enough to feel that such behavior is acceptable. As one said, "forced marriage is the earthquake and what follows is a tsunami of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, child protection issues, suicide and murder."
Spencer: Why do you think that Muslims living in the West are statistically more criminal and violent than others?
Sennels: Well, there are several reasons. Firstly, the Islamic scriptures teach them that attacking and robbing non-Muslims is completely okay. Muslim culture's degrading view of non-Muslims functions in the same way as war propaganda. By hearing again and again how evil, disgusting and unworthy the enemy is, empathy is removed, aggression is strengthened, and the step towards harming the perceived enemy becomes smaller. The Qur'an and the Hadith are criminal books that allow and even force people to undertake criminal acts.
The psychological differences that I mentioned before also play a role when it comes to the high crime rate among Muslims. Our diplomatic and tolerant attitude is simply perceived as weakness and exploitable vulnerability. We may not like it, but we Westerners must abandon our peaceful, dialogue seeking and politically correct ways if we hope to communicate with Muslim society. Otherwise, they will think we are too scared to risk a conflict. They simply do not respect to or understand our preferred ways of communicating.
Finally, most Muslims are unable to earn real respect from us. Their immature behavior, their lack of contribution to the community and their lack of success makes them look like real losers in the eyes of civilized modern people. And it is not easy to belong to Allah's chosen people, who are supposedly better than the rest of the lot, when in fact they come in last every time. So, because of the lack of well-earned respect, and because of not being able to discriminate between the two, they try to be feared instead. It is Muslims, not Westerners, who invented the word Islamophobia. They want us to be afraid. But we are not. We feel sick of all their parasitism, violent behavior and mistreatment of their women. We have Islamonausea.
Spencer: Is there a psychological explanation as to why political correctness is still so widespread, in spite of the obvious evidence that Islam is an aggressive ideology and Muslim immigration is eroding our societies and destroying our economy?
Sennels: Yes, there is. As I already mentioned, we Westerners are brought up to think that tolerance and openness are positive human qualities. For a long time, we did not have to be aware that such qualities are only a strength as long as nobody wants to harm us. In our meeting with Islam and Muslim immigration, our biggest strength -- our willingness to be open towards the new, that made us so curious and inventive and therefore knowledgeable and rich -- has become our worst enemy.
In my article "Psychological explanations of Political Correctness," I go through the most important social psychological explanations on irrational herd behavior. The most important are the bystander effect and pluralistic ignorance.
The bystander effect is when a person uses another reaction to assess a situation. If others do not react, it is interpreted as a sign that the situation is not serious and that there is no need to act. That is why we need more people to act, and in good style.
Pluralistic ignorance appears when people know that there is a problembut feel that it would be embarrassing to point it out. Leftists screaming "racist," the general view that it is impolite to point out obvious weaknesses in others and our culture's definition of good people as being open and tolerant, makes many people keep their mouths shut and even doubt their own sense and senses. When a majority of people, as a result of insecurity and wanting to be a "good person," do not speak their mind, the result is pluralistic ignorance. The famous Danish fairytale about the Emperor's New Clothes is an excellent example.
In the end, it comes down to cowardliness and wanting to be a good person in the eyes of others. Compassion for 700 million women who cannot chose their own sexual partners, clothing or lifestyle, as well as an openly declared war on our values and countries, the quick decay of our big cities into Sharia colonies, and the destruction of our economy as a result of Muslim immigration apparently do not count.
Spencer: Besides writing about psychology, you also write and translate articles on Muslim criminals, politics etc. Are you just a critic of Islam who happens to be a psychologist?
Sennels: No, I am a psychologist who through his work with Muslims became aware of how big a mistake it is to allow Muslim immigration and the spread of Islam in our societies. Together with overpopulation, which should be taken care of by using the enormous amounts of foreign aid to pay people who have less money, this problem is the most dangerous threat to world peace today. It has now been several decades since we passed the stage at which the problem could be solved without blood, sweat and tears.
I have dedicated my life to making people aware of the danger that is already gnawing off big chunks of our cities, economy and freedom.
The most embarrassing thing I can imagine is that the only place in this universe with intelligent life will end as a planet-sized khalifat floating around in space. Just like the bad guys in The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and other archetypal stories of good and evil, Islam does not strive for freedom, happiness and love. Islam strives for the submission of Muslims to Allah and of non-Muslims to Muslims -- a dark, cold and humorless world where men are forced to mistreat their women and everybody is a slave to a god whose only wish is the enforcement of Sharia down to the very last comma. They do what they can to reach their final solution, and we must do what we can to prevent it from happening.
Spencer: You have several years of experience in writing and debating on Islam. You have participated in intellectual debates on Danish national TV and national radio about Islam and Muslim immigration. Many people are critical of Sharia and immigration, but do know dare to speak out -- or they are not sure how to express their views. Do you have any advice to people who feel like that?
Sennels: If we have compassion, people will feel it. Criticizing Islam is like shooting fish in a barrel, but we are not intellectual sadists. We are worried about the freedom of our women and the future of our children, and about our constitutions. And we know that the first and in many cases also the biggest victims of Islam are Muslims. We do not even have to use words like Islam or Muslims. We can just say that religions that oppress women and start holy wars make us sick. If you know that you are right, you do not have to be nervous or ashamed of yourself. Know that our politicians and media aim for the soft middle in society in order to be reelected and to sell newspapers and ads, and it is therefore up to ordinary people to protect our values, society and constitution.
Inform yourself and spread what you find out via email, social media, blogs and letters to the editor and to our politicians and journalists. When among others, the most important thing is that you do not force your view upon them and are happy and relaxed when you express your opinions. Only share your knowledge and your feelings when it feels natural -- wait until others mention the topic and use only a few words unless people really ask you several times what you think. If you are good, you can even use humor.
And do not fear to lose a few politically correct friends on the way. They will thank you in the end.