Mohammad Hussain Rashwani is a Syrian “refugee” who came to Germany for a better life. He is a skilled hairstylist, and found employment working for a woman who owns a hair salon in Herzberg. He did so well that he was touted as a model of successful “integration” in Modern Multicultural Germany.And the follow-up.
Yesterday there was a little integration glitch: Mohammad was unable to resist emulating his namesake, and slit his employer’s throat.
Should she have seen this attack against her coming? She keeps asking herself this question over and over. And she can’t find an answer. “Even today, I do not know what I should think. Until that Wednesday evening, he was an endearing man. I believed up to the very last minute that something good could come of him because I appreciated his professional abilities very much,” Ilona F. says.This is how Westerners in general react to Islamic violence. How? Why? Was it our fault? What did we do to upset him?
The Herzberg woman doesn’t want to talk about the attack itself; her thoughts are much more circling around ‘why’ again and again. “Did I intervene too much? Was I too strong for him? Did we, my husband and I, organize too much for him?” These and other thoughts are constantly crossing her mind.
“For me, there were no signs that something like this could happen,” the 64-year-old says, looking back. But, she admits, he had changed considerably in the past few months. Ilona F. explains: “We had invested a lot of time in him after our spectacular beginnings, and we had helped him in every way possible. We had plans. He is an outstanding hairdresser. The customers were super-happy with his work. Until the very last minute I had believed that things were going to work.”
Even then changes started to set in. He, a Muslim who until now did not seem in any way a devout believer, had began to talk about Allah more and more. This certainly got on her nerves for over time. He also quit visiting the hairdresser and her husband at home. Before the changes he came by almost every day.
This is a common pattern. And it's a matter of cultural differences.
Arab Middle Eastern culture wears a "face". That "face" isn't reality. It's a social mask. The face can be very effusive, friendly and even loving. But that's just a social mask. The man or woman underneath can and likely does, despise or even violently hate you, without showing it in any detectable way so long as there's an advantage in doing so.
This really baffles Americans who tend not to wear faces. And when they do, aren't nearly as compartmentalized at it. But it even apparently confuses Europeans who are more likely to.
The "sign" was that Mohammed was unhappy with his position. He had supposedly owned a salon in Damascus, but was just an employee here. He was no doubt making good money, but had to take orders from a woman. He put up with it for a while in the hope that he could use it as a springboard to open his own shop. And he could have done so in time.
But he lost patience, felt dishonored and lashed out.
This happens a lot from the "sudden" attacks in Afghanistan to domestic terror sprees. The signs aren't overt hostility. They're religiosity and dissatisfaction. When the violence comes, it's already too late. Once the mask comes off and the friendliness disappears, the killing may be about to begin.