Ali Fathollah-Nejad

German author Feridun Zaimoglu, pioneer of the “Kanak” school of fiction (the migrant underworld described in the vernacular of its young male protagonists), has begun narrating from the Muslim woman’s perspective. In his latest novel Leyla, a Turkish woman tells about her life in Germany; while in a new work for theatre entitled Schwarze Jungfrauen (Black Virgins), young Muslim women talk openly about sex. In March 2007, Zaimoglu ruffled feathers when he gave up his place at an official conference on Muslims in Germany in protest at the non-attendance of young ordinary Muslims and criticized feminist former-Muslims for demonizing young Muslim women. With characteristic verve, he explained to Ali Fathollah-Nejad why the discourse in Germany operates double values when it comes to the questions of multiculturalism and integration.

“My real task is criticism, not justification. I have to choose: either I play my part and become a defender of Islam or multiculturalism – or indeed a denouncer of Islam, whatever role I get landed with. Or else I write my books, with a view to people still reading them in twenty years, fifty years, hoping that they won’t be too affected by debates that we will hopefully have forgotten all about in a couple of years.” Prominent German-Iranian author Navid Kermani speaks to Ali Fathollah-Nejad about Islam and Iran, European values, and why he won’t have anything to do with the Islam industry.