To what extent is the hedonism of the West and a decline in moral values fueling this brand of Islamic extremism?
This is a very important point, and people are not aware of it in the West. If we go back a little bit, the West was, for a long time, associated with modernity and technical innovation. Egypt, for example, entered [its modernistic] period in the middle of the 19th century up until, more or less, the middle of the 20th century. The Egyptians were trying to adapt themselves to Western culture. They viewed it as modernity because everything they used and wanted to have came from the West, which was seen as Christian.
But in recent times, the West has given a very bad image of itself, mainly regarding the questions on sexual liberation. Homosexuality, for example, is considered normal today in the West. It’s considered as a variant of heterosexuality, and sexual relations between men and women are no longer sacred.
When I used to go back to Egypt, I was asked: “Is it true that men and women are having sex in public?” I said: “No, this is not true.” But this was the image they had.
Then came the Gulf and Iraq wars, which were seen as anti-Islamic.
Do you think these wars have often been viewed as defending the increasing immorality in the West?
Yes, it has been seen as the West imposing its superiority; and the wars, whether just or not, are always seen as coming from the hands of the United States and Israel. But the reaction to the immorality of the West is clearer. Everything about modernity is seen as wrong for these people — I mean the Islamists.
Do you believe this trend is also linked to a kind of latent anger within Islamic extremists against the West for not being true to its Christian roots? Would they respect the West more if it was?
The image of the West is combined in the minds of the Islamic extremists with sin and the wrong things and the wrong power. But at the same time, everyone is using Western products, especially technology. You have a kind of aggression because the West is seen as dominating the world, which could be a force for good, but they see it as domination and not progress. So the tendency is to regress to the seventh century, which they feel must be the best thing, because that was the time of the Prophet [Mohammed].
I was looking at some YouTube videos of ISIS, and it’s incredible. They do everything saying, “Allahu Akbar” [God is great] before doing it, putting everything under God and the call of Islam. Even when killing an innocent, they scream, ‟Allahu Akbar.” These Islamists are going back to the seventh century, especially in a radical way and with war.
One video I saw said the caliphate is the only solution and will be achieved by the sword. So it’s a rejection of the West’s moral values and its domination. The absurdity is that they are using violence against themselves, because Islamists callkāfir (infidel) anyone who disagrees with them and are then allowed to kill him.