“Seyran Ateş: Sex Revolution and Islam”: A Courageous attempt to bring Islam into the 21st century: Toronto Hot Docs

Seyran Ateş is a Turkish born woman who at a young age moved to Berlin. She had a strict Muslim upbringing making her feel like a prisoner. Only whores would go to movies with their friends. Women don’t read books so that was forbidden. Hating her lonely and oppressed teenage years she ran away from home just shy of 18. She became a lawyer and then founded a mosque The Ibn Ruschd-Goethe mosque in Berlin and became its imam. She welcomes all Muslims to her progressive mosque including members of the LGBTQ community. She is an avowed feminist saying Islam needs a sexual revolution where females are treated as equals instead of inferiors. As she says we are living in the 21st century but Islam seems stuck in the 7th century. She claims to be fighting against patriarchal hegemony in Islam and not against Islam itself.

Seyran Ateş

How has the Muslim power structure taken all this? Not well she has been shot, receives countless death threats and hate mail and is under 24-hour police protection. She reviews a few of the hate e-mails and remarks what is this common theme of being a whore used. It is indicative of hatred and sexualization of women.

Although attacked by right wing Muslims leftist feminists also attack her seeking to protect Muslim women yet overlook the patriarchal misogyny.

There are over 2,000 mosques in Germany and Ateş wants to establish more like hers in Europe. She decries extremism and notes that the result of these attacks is that some people equate Islam with terrorism. Why is there so much hate in the Muslim world? It is related to radicalization of youth living in a foreign land wanting some connection to their homeland which many do by turning to Islam a very nasty and hateful sort flooding social media. Who carries out the terrorist attacks in North America and Europe? Men and it is men that are behind the radicalization.

Tugay, her nephew was on the edge of being totally radicalized thinking after being propagandized if he were to die for Islam he would go to paradise. Tugay said he was unhappy on earth so why not be happy in paradise? It was his aunt that brought him back to reality. He notes that extremists are always trying to divide people and when you divide people they become weaker.  

Aside from travelling to Madrid to attend a memorial for the 193 victims of the March 2004 extremist bombing of the Atocha train station (where I have been in several times) she goes to Oslo and Utoya island near Oslo where white extremist Anders Breivik bombed, fearing the Muslimification of Europe by liberals. a government building killing 8 in Oslo and 69 Norway Labour Party Youth (AUF) on Utoya Island  in July of 2011. You can see my review of “Generation Utoya” which is also playing at Hot Docs here https://setthebarlifestyle.wordpress.com/2021/04/24/generation-utoya-why-toronto-hot-docs/?fbclid=IwAR3dRLwvdK2ZzeW9jhE7Xs8mUYNueJtJ3k5HyM5YLHoZF4qsQg1QS3WSK6c

Ateş blames political Islam for the killings and apologizes being ashamed for what has been done. It is only Islam that can fight political Islam.

In one of the lighter scenes, she attends a brothel in Berlin meeting with two Turkish women, one Arab and one German women. Muslim men are frequent customers. One sex worker says they party, drink and do drugs except for Ramadan where they behave themselves but as soon at that is over they flock back to the brothel.

Ateş says a Reformation is needed in Islam but unlike Martin Luther we can’t wait for 500 years.

This 81-minute 2021 Norwegian documentary is directed by Nefise Özkal Lorentzen. The film runs from April 29-May 9th.You can purchase tickets here https://hotdocs.ca/p/hot-docs-festival

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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