A recent article in German press:
Here is a translation of that article (a quick one with help of google translator, I just corrected some mistakes to make it readable):
Lama Ole is subject to anti-Islamic statements in litigation.
When the Dane Ole Nydahl offers lectures in Germany, thousands come. Often the star of Diamond Way Buddhism disparages Islam and Muslims. Individual Buddhists criticized him publicly years ago - and have now won in an Austrian court.
From Mechthild Klein
The Buddhist Lama Ole Nydahl has been attracting attention for years with derogatory statements about Muslims and Islam. For example, he said in a lecture on March 23, 2016 to thousands of fans in Kassel:
“I can tell you: Too much Islam and our freedom is gone. They attack the women first, you know this, right, clitoris off and so on and all the other things that are not done with women. And then all the other things come, don't they? That they are beaten, that twelve-year-old girls are married to sixty-year-old neighbors and all the different things there, right?"
When asked by the audience at the same event whether Nydahl was of the opinion that all refugees or only radical Muslims should be deported, he replied: “I mean Muslims above all. I mean people who are learning to do what we don't want to. The others may be a little unlucky and have flaws and so on, right? But whoever follows the Quran is not enjoyable in a modern society. He is not! He's just out to take advantage of things, suppresses the weak, he doesn't get a proper education and so on, no, and everything goes down. They are all a burden to these people. "
Public election recommendation: AfD
The Dane is the star of the Diamond Way Buddhists. If he speaks and a pandemic does not make major events impossible, full halls are guaranteed. At this lecture in Kassel in 2016, the teacher recommended that his numerous listeners vote for the AfD party. And at a later point, Nydahl added that Merkel had just taken in people who no one else wanted. He later claimed that, among other things, Muslims were illiterate and beat their children and women.
Some Buddhist bloggers or media such as the "Allgäuer Zeitung", who publicly criticized such or similar statements, received mail from Nydahl's lawyer. But now the Austrian Supreme Court has confirmed the interpretation of a critical voice against Nydahl - after almost four years of legal dispute. In the grounds of the judgment it says: Ole Nydahl is aiming "with his criticism very well at the religion of Islam as such and at Muslims in their entirety and not just at radical groups". A differentiation is largely lacking.
The legal dispute began after Peter Riedl wrote on his blog that he found Nydahl's statements about Islam to be denigrating. In his blog he had also quoted a witness who reported the statements of the master at the event in Kassel in her own words. Riedl was President of the Austrian Buddhist Religious Society and editor of the Buddhist magazine “Cause / Effect”. After his criticism, Nydahl's lawyer came forward. Peter Riedl:
“In August 2017, Ole Nydahl's lawyer wrote to me to sign a cease and desist declaration. I didn't do that and then I was sued two months later. "
Legal dispute over anti-Islamic statements
And that's what the dispute is about: Ole Nydahl sued for the omission and revocation of statements that he regarded as untrue and libelous or as defamatory. Riedl's witness had summarized what she had heard, according to which Nydahl would have said at the lecture, among other things, that people who came from countries with an Islamic culture were uneducated and beat their wives and molested German women. Peter Riedl defended himself legally. Nydahl countered that these statements were not made that way.
Lama Ole dealt with his lawsuits against the blog article in several courts in Germany and Austria. In the end, it turned out that the statements made by Nydahl in the lecture were essentially correctly reproduced in the blog article. Nydahl was therefore defeated in this legal dispute. The Supreme Court in Vienna has also rejected the appeal of the Buddhist teacher Ole Nydahl. Peter Riedl explains his tenacity as follows:
“It was important to me that we are living in a very complex and difficult time and that there are really a lot of problems with Islam. And because Ole Nydahl always makes very undifferentiated statements against Muslims. And now there is no question that there are many problems in Islam. There are the Salafist preachers, there is IS, and a lot, a lot. But at a time like this, that is not good if you put it on and now use it to defame all Muslim citizens across the board. And only against that I resisted. "
Peter Riedl would like a Buddhist teacher to have a differentiated view of other religions, especially from a prominent teacher like Nydahl, who has so many followers in the West. It was mainly an ethical concern for him, he says. He says:
“Ole Nydahl is not only a very well-known teacher, he supposedly has up to 70,000 students and I believe that. And I've talked to many too. They are incredibly dedicated, nice people who really have a great interest in Buddhism. I just spoke again today with a Buddhist who is a follower of Ole Nydahl. And of course he is very concerned that there is a conflict about his master. "
But the vast majority of followers of the Tibetan Buddhist Diamond Way stand firmly behind their Lama Ole Nydahl - no matter what he says. Riedl: “He is considered an enlightened master, an enlightened bodhisattva in Buddhism. So a unique person. And everything that Ole Nydahl says and does is sacrosanct. And then there are a few critical listeners who are irritated by his anti-Islamic statements. And then they no longer come and they step out. "
Basically, Peter Riedl fears that the Islamophobic words of the Danish lama in the Diamond Way community will bear fruit and that these Buddhists will turn away from peaceful coexistence of religions in society: “It is about people who come to Buddhism, Buddhist meditation learn, in a lecture from a Buddhist teacher, within Buddhist lectures, hear that Muslims beat their wives and are uneducated. And that's the crux of the whole thing, that you can't say it in this generalized form, because it comes to a conflict, a kind of clash of cultures. "
Battle rhetoric for advertising purposes?
But where does this battle rhetoric of the western lama in his Tibetan Buddhist organization come from?
“Buddhism is widely spread, there is already a lot inside. And it is not that Buddhism has not had polemics against other religions throughout its history. There is by all means a tradition that now also disregards other religions in the history of Tibetan Buddhism or Buddhism in general, ”says the religious scholar Professor Franz Winter from the University of Graz. He refers to the history of Buddhism. It was by no means only characterized by meekness. There was always aggressive rhetoric, including against Islam. Nonetheless, Nydahl's fixation on Islam is striking: “There is a suspicion that he simply likes to take up current issues. And that is also used for advertising purposes. "
The religious scholar is looking for inner-Buddhist explanations, but he doesn't really find anything: “Although I have the impression with the Islamic topic that it is simply a deeply personal topic of his. So that is something that he propagates to an extent and which he repeatedly carries out very aggressively to the outside, where one has the impression that it is really within him now. Does that have nothing to do with Buddhism at all? That is a difficult question that I could not answer so broadly. "
"Diamond Way Buddhism" bubble
What is the strategy behind this when a Buddhist master repeatedly makes blanket and derogatory statements about Muslims and which he then almost always relativizes when authors and bloggers criticize him? For the blogger supporters, the matter is clear: “I think the important thing is that what happened there was made public. I think it is urgent if critical voices are to be intimidated, ”says Ralf Sogen Boeck, Zen priest and former board member of the umbrella organization of the German Buddhist Union.
He refers to the Buddhist blogger and monk Tenzin Peljor, who also reported critically about Nydahl and who had taken over the statements of the witness from Riedl's blog. Peljor also received mail from Nydahl's lawyer. Some Buddhists now started to collect money for the monk so that he could defend himself legally. Peljor has no property, as the order rule prescribes: “And then there was a donation account, which at least enabled the Buddhist monk Tenzin Peljor without possesions to defend himself with the help of a lawyer in court against the warning demands, which he also does not at all could have paid. "
Despite a court settlement, the monk incurred legal fees of more than 20,000 euros. But the fronts are hardened. There is radio silence after Nydahls Diamantweg withdrew from the German Buddhist Union in 2019 and thus anticipated an expulsion. The long legal battle was grueling for Tenzin Peljor and Peter Riedl. Riedl:
“It was of course extremely stressful. It was enormously expensive. In these four years, I did not issue an opinion on this process because my own lawyers advised me against it. And that was a huge burden overall. "
The defendants were not broken down by the argument. But will Nydahl's lost trial also make an impression on Diamond Way followers? Despite the success in court, Peter Riedl's conclusion sounds rather resigned: “The devout Diamond Way Buddhists can no longer be reached. They are unreachable for normal Buddhism and for a tolerant world and for togetherness and discussion, in the open opinion where one can express criticism, that one has problems to solve them. They live in a closed bubble. "