17.01.2020 Meran Dialogues with Jürgen Todenhöfer: Has the IS really been beaten?

IS expert Jürgen Todenhöfer will be a guest at the Merano City Theatre on 17 January.

For ten days in December 2014, Jürgen Todenhöfer was on the road in the “Islamic State”. A life-threatening undertaking – the publicist, former member of the Bundestag and ex-publishing manager was absolutely aware of that. But Todenhöfer wanted to see for himself the “state” that fascinates so many people and attracts thousands of “holy warriors” from the West to Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

According to Todenhöfer, the West has no strategy whatsoever for dealing with the IS, which is primarily due to the fact that in the diplomacy of Western countries there must be no talks with “enemies”. “A serious mistake,” says Todenhöfer, “because how are you supposed to meet such a formidable challenge if you don’t know the enemy’s goals and strategy?”

What Jürgen Todenhöfer experienced in the ten days in the “Islamic State”, accompanied by his son Frederic and his son’s friend Malcolm, he describes in his book “Inside IS”, published in 2015. He experienced the brutality of the “warriors of God” at first hand, feared more than once that his safe conduct, signed by the caliph, was no life insurance, but above all he experienced an “anti-Islamic state” that wrongly invokes the Koran in its arbitrary treatment of foreigners, people of other faiths and women.

In the end, the IS kept its word and smuggled Todenhöfer and his two companions safely across the Syrian-Turkish border. But they did not really get closer, says Todenhöfer, because their views were too far apart. “From the very beginning, the IS was aware that I was extremely critical of them, that I strongly criticised their inhumane treatment, the arbitrary killing of ‘apostates’, without, however, glossing over the mistakes of the West. The jihadists have accepted this, but my criticism in the many conversations has not led to the slightest rethinking on their part.”

In his latest book, published in 2019, “The Great Hypocrisy. How Politics and the Media Betray Our Values”, Jürgen Todenhöfer sheds light on the other side of the coin. Under the pretext of noble goals, the West has been pursuing a brutal policy of interests for centuries, which is often supported by powerful media.

In the autumn of 2019, the media reported that the Islamic State had been defeated and that its famous leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was officially dead. But is this really the case? Is the IS really defeated? Jürgen Todenhöfer, who is considered one of the best experts on the “Islamic State”, will be a guest in Merano on 17 January 2020.

At the invitation of the Merano Academy, he will talk to Eberhard Daum about the IS, the mistakes of the West and the danger posed by the “Islamic State” for the Middle East and for peace in the world as part of the “Merano Dialogues”. The event begins at 6 pm at the Merano Municipal Theatre. Admission is free.