Jürgen Todenhöfer– the hero we deserve (and the one we need right now)

In the most daring, death-defying move of journalism the world has seen over the last five years, German author, politician, journalist and peace-advocate Jürgen Todenhöfer travelled the ‘Islamic State’ for a whole week. Now – having risked his life while reporting from the most murderous region of the world – Mr. Todenhöfer is being attacked by the German press. The man who was not satisfied with an outside view has to fend off some incredible accusations.

Spiegel magazine (German term for mirror) called the journalist an “IS-propagandist” in a recently published article. And as mirrors do, they twisted around right and left completely.

They dare attack a man, who defended the actual, peaceful message of the Quran to the faces of IS-fighters – while in the ‘Islamic State’. The dare refer to the man who showed his personal condemnation for IS-atrocities (while in the ‘Islamic State’), an “IS-propagandist”. In w91kwvubmselritten and video form, Todenhöfer documented his travels. His book “Inside IS – 10 Tage im Islamischen Staat” is one huge condemnation of the twisted IS ideology. But it is not just that. It details, in an impressively calm and collected tone, the organisation of daily life in the ‘caliphate’. It details with meticulous attention how Daesh fighters try to justify the ‘Islamic State’s’ inhumane practices of slavery, segregation and glorified murder. It gives us all an inside view into the army of terror. And in every single shocking and drenching chapter, Jürgen Todenhöfer formulates a massive attack on IS practices and ideologies. The author (who deserves more than just being called ‘journalist’) would later go on to pen a moving, rationally and emotionally unsettling open letter to the Caliph of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

He made himself a target for Islamic terrorists by openly calling for their condemnation by all. How so? As opposed to almost all other criticism against ISIS (which is of course justified) he not only condemns the human rights infringements of a brutal terror-regime, but attacks the sickening ideology from multiple fronts. He calls out brutal practices (some of which were only brought to public attention through his reporting) tears apart the blatant religious hypocrisy and doesn’t rely on emotional assessment to create one of the strongest criticisms of ISIL to date. Jürgen Todenhöfer’s work against the Islamic State is the strongest argument to come out of the international community. It is, because he doesn’t just echo old arguments of moral superiority. He voices what no other person can voice, with the exception of his two admirable travelling companions. He voices the horror of actually living inside IS.

It was his book that convinced me that this new crusade against civilisation is the biggest threat to the world since the National Socialist party of Germany. It was also his book that shocked me and shook me – how can the global community stand by and watch, while 500,000 civilians lose their lives over just three years? How can the global community stand by and watch, while thousands are sold into slavery? How can The United States of America and the Russian Federation insist on haggling for the Syrian throne? How can we, as Europeans (and Germans in my case) just echo the US policy in this brutal war? Dropping 25,000 bombs over just one year will not solve anything. Alienating the people of the Middle East will not solve anything. Todenhöfer’s book brings up one essential fact:

The fear of Russian and US air raids allows ISIL to portray themselves as the saviour of the Sunni population. They paint themselves as the defenders of religion, fighting against Christian crusaders.

And there are thousands of Sunni Muslims who resist the straglehold of the brutal IS ideology. But without propaganda help from US, Russia and EU, ISIL would be robbed off a lot of influence. That is why, after the coup on Saddam Hussein, Al-Qaida following grew from 700 to 18,000 (that is a factor of 26) – Bush’s war on terror was a recruitment gift for terrorists. And the west is making the same mistakes all over again. Todenhöfer is ruthlessly attacked for pointing that out.

Dear Mr. Todenhöfer and team: I watched your TV appearance on Saturday. I still am very impressed. By your dedication. Your conviction. Your fearlessness. Your multilateral approach. Two of your insights will forever stay with me:

  1. We must talk to every and each side of each conflict. No matter how much we want to send one of the conflicting parties to hell. We need to understand the ideology of every party to fully understand a conflict.
  2. We can’t fight a conflict by using the reasons of this conflict. It was the invasion of Iraq that led to the creation of ISI (“Islamic State of Iraq”) in 2003. It was the fear of bombings that fuelled the IS propaganda machine. Don’t feed them more. Don’t give them the fuel they want, the fuel they need.

Dear Mr. Todenhöfer, Mr. F. Todenhöfer and Malcom: You are admired and looked up to. You’ve already made an impact and we are impressed because you continue to do so. Don’t give up! Every person reached, every voice awakened is a victory in itself. Even if I don’t agree with absolutely everything you have said to date, the policy of “talk to everyone” is necessary in times like these. ISIL is an abomination that needs to be destroyed – but dropping bombs in Syria won’t destroy it. Valid criticism should never be met with an image-destruction campaign such as the one “Spiegel” has launched against JT.

Want more information about one of the most selfless journalists, politicians and activists of our time? Check out his website!


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