More On Tariq Ramadan
(All emphases by Always On Watch)
In my previous post, "Time Magazine's Dhimmitude," I relied on information from FrontPageMagazine. I did so as a matter of convenience because a Google Search of "Tariq Ramadan" yields a multitute of hits. Probably the sources I'm using below won't be any more satisfactory to a leftist because, as Diana West editorialized,
The media love a martyr. And I don't mean "martyr" in the context of modern-day jihad. I mean the sort from our pre-Islamic consciousness, the long-suffering "victim" of "witch hunts" and moralizing of a singularly "right-wing" and "puritanical" kind. Such martyrdom never dims -- and I'm thinking, say, of Alger Hiss, or, on a different level, Bill Clinton. It beams on in perpetuity, alight with liberal pieties projected by a media culture that, in turn, basks in reflected martyrdom.Below is a bit more information about Tariq Ramadan, from Tariq Ramadan's editorial in the October 1, 2006 edition of the Washington Post:
Tariq Ramadan, a Eurabian intellectual with a string of associates linked to terrorism, is becoming just such a media martyr.
What words do I utter and what views do I hold that are dangerous to American ears, so dangerous, in fact, that I should not be allowed to express them on U.S. soil?Note that Mr. Ramadan doesn't say why he is s was banned from certain Islamic nations. According to the Washington Times,
I have called upon Western societies to be more open toward Muslims and to regard them as a source of richness, not just of violence or conflict. I have called upon Muslims in the West to reconcile and embrace both their Islamic and Western identities. I have called for the creation of a "New We" based on common citizenship within which Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Muslims and people with no religion can build a pluralistic society. And yes, I believe we all have a right to dissent, to criticize governments and protest undemocratic decisions. It is certainly legitimate for European Muslims and American Muslims to criticize their governments if they find them unjust -- and I will continue to do so.
At the same time, I do not stop short of criticizing regimes from Muslim countries. Indeed, the United States is not the only country that rejects me; I am also barred from Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and even my native Egypt.
Mr. Ramadan's activities do not stop in Europe. In 1995, when the Algerian Armed Islamist Movement (AIM) perpetrated several terrorist attacks in Paris, French Interior Minister Jean Louis Debre barred Mr. Ramadan at that time from France -- based on his links to AIM. Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and his native Egypt also bar Mr. Ramadan from crossing their boarders. He is denied entrance to those countries, not for supporting Hamas or because he carries peaceful messages. They keep him out because of his links to and influence on radical Muslim groups.The above link also includes the following information:
Regardless, Mr. Ramadan's popularity among the Europeans is growing fast....
...On Dec. 8, 2005, the French prosecution of Chechen terror network chief Menad Benchellali revealed evidence of Mr. Ramadan's links to terrorists in Europe. Benchellali had traveled to Switzerland "one or two times in 2000, to attend conferences on Islam provided by Tariq Ramadan." Benchellali, who later planned chemical attacks in France "under the supervision of Abu Musab Al Zarqawi," was sentenced in June to 10 years in prison.Again, from the Washington Times (a different article/commentary):
Earlier, in March 2005, Algerian al Qaeda member Djamel Beghal received 10 years in prison in Paris for participating in a foiled terror attack on the U.S. embassy there. Beghal testified in September 2001 that "his religious engagement started in 1994," when "he was in charge of writing the statements of Tariq Ramadan." That October, Beghal added that he had also taken "courses given by Tariq Ramadan."
Moreover, a 2001 Swiss intelligence memo said: "brothers Hani and Tariq Ramadan coordinated a meeting held in 1991 in Geneva attended by [al Qaeda leader] Ayman Al Zawahiri and Omar Abdel Rahman," the imprisoned planner of the 1993 World Trade Center attack.
Spanish Judge Balatasar Garzon, whose investigations into the terror activities of the Algerian Ahmed Brahim, rendered a 10-year prison sentence in April 2006, reported Ramadan's "routine contacts" with Brahim, the alleged financial chief of Al Qaeda in Europe and financier of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
Mr. Ramadan denies these charges. But according to French terrorism expert Jean-Charles Brisard, Mr. Ramadan also "denied being a director of the Geneva Islamic Center, a position he still holds, according to the official Swiss register of companies."
Tariq Ramadan is radioactive. Speak to any Christian in the Arab world, and "roadkill" is the nicest thing you'll hear about him. For the left -- especially the far left -- the grandson of the founder of the incendiary Muslim Brotherhood, the most important Islamist movement of the 20th century, is just in from a little stroll on the Sea of Galilee.From this source, quoting Tariq Ramadan:
For France's influential Jewish intellectuals -- Bernard-Henri Levy, Andre Glucksmann, Bernard Kouchner -- Ramadan is a dangerously skillful anti-Semite....
Mr. Ramadan's apocalyptic, nihilistic vision appears to some as a scene-setter for the center-stage appearance of Osama bin Laden Superstar.
The author of a dozen books, Mr. Ramadan lets fly staccato-style, at the speed of an AK-47 on full automatic, quotations from Nietzsche, Heidegger and the Koran, to prove a central point: Decadent Europe will give way to an Islamized Europe.
The 21st century, he says, will see a second role reversal between Islam and the West: "The West will begin its new decline, and the Arab-Islamic world its renewal" and ascent to seven centuries of world domination after seven centuries of decline.
The fully European Islam, he predicts, presupposes a violent upheaval against the Western values Mr. Ramadan rejects. But he quickly cushions the supposition with hosannas to democracy and free expression. He is a past master of dissimulation and disinformation.
"To Be a European Muslim," published in 1999, was translated into 14 languages. The European Parliament consults him as an expert voice of reason in a cacophony of extremist epithets.
Criticism of this Islamist intellectual troubadour is quickly rejected as Islamophobia. Mr. Ramadan speaks the language of Europe's intellectual left. A frequent lecturer in U.S. universities, his brilliantly articulate perorations mesmerize his liberal fans. "Only Islam can achieve the synthesis between Christianity and humanism, and fill the spiritual void that afflicts the West." All good people are implicitly Muslims, he maintains, "because true humanism is founded in Koranic revelations."
"Today the Muslims who live in the West must unite themselves to the revolution of the anti-establishment groups from the moment when the neoliberal capitalist system becomes, for Islam, a theater of war," is another thunderclap that says "jihad" to his detractors and sweet reasonableness to his fans.
Marxism failed because it slavishly followed the dictates of a bunch of aging klutzes in Moscow, according to the Ramadan school. Islam, he says, can now bring forth a body of values that would form the embodiment of this universal vocation.
This, in turn, would replace the values of Western civilization. Islam-centric thinking thus replaces Eurocentric rearview mirror nostalgia for what was once a great civilization.
Muslim identity is the only true source of universality, proclaims Tariq Ramadan. "It will fill the spiritual void that afflicts the West." Music to some, but a hidden Islamist agenda to DHS. Some would say, not so well hidden.
"Only Islam can achieve the synthesis between Christianity and humanism, and fill the spiritual void that afflicts the West" ("Islam, le face à face des civilisations," Tawhid, 2001).The article below is cited in its entirety:
And again: "The Koran confirms, completes, and corrects the messages that preceded it" ("Les messages musulmans d´occident"). Some Christian personalities whose charitable works cannot be misconstrued - Mother Teresa, Sister Emanuelle, Abbé Pierre, Fr. Helder Camara - are exceptions who show only that all good people are implicitly Muslims, because true humanism is founded in Koranic revelation. Thus, both directly and through this humanism, the "Muslim City" can be founded upon the earth. "Today the Muslims who live in the West must unite themselves to the revolution of the antiestablishment groups from the moment when the neoliberal capitalist system becomes, for Islam, a theater of war..." ("Pouvoirs," 2003, n. 164).
NS Profile - Tariq Ramadan ProfileTariq Ramadan is the Islamic expert to whom Time Magazine turns and presents to its readers as the European voice of reformist Islam?
Monday 21st June 2004
Some call him ''the most dangerous man in Europe'', others ''the Martin Luther of Islam''. Just how sinister is he?
You will find the headquarters of Tariq Ramadan, described by some people as "the most dangerous man in Europe" and by others as Islam's Martin Luther, in Saint-Denis, the slightly battered and down-at-heel town at the end of the Paris Metro line, once known mainly for its glorious gothic basilica, the final resting place of Clovis, founder of the French nation. Ramadan is admired across the francophone Islamic world, from the ghettoes of Lyons and Marseilles to the souks of Morocco and the slums of Senegal. His pamphlets, books and speeches sell in their tens of thousands. He has put political Islam at the very top of the political agenda in France, challenging ministers over the banning of the hijab in French schools and defending the application of sharia law in Muslim areas. His confident, insolent manner in a televised debate last year with Nicolas Sarkozy, then minister of the interior, now finance minister and Jacques Chirac's most likely successor as president, made him an instant hero to radical Muslim youth in France. Time magazine named him as one of the hundred most important innovators of the 21st century. The anti-globalisation movement embraced him at the European Social Forum last autumn despite misgivings from some activists who saw him as a demagogue.
Ramadan, aged 41, was born in Switzerland to a family that had a tradition of Islamist political involvement. His maternal grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, was a founder in 1928 of the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the cornerstones of modern Islamist fundamentalism. His father, Said Ramadan, fled Gamal Abdel Nasser's crackdown on fundamentalist troublemakers in 1954 and founded an Islamic Centre in Geneva which Tariq's brother Hani still runs.
Although he studied French literature and philosophy as an undergraduate at the University of Geneva, Tariq Ramadan chose 19th-century reformist Islam as the subject of his doctoral thesis. Much to the chagrin of his supervisor - who later described him as a "pseudo-intellectual" and "vain opportunist" - the thesis ended up as a hagiography of his grandfather. He got his doctorate, but without the traditional congratulations of the judging panel. None the less, he teaches at a lycee in Geneva and holds a part-time position at the University of Fribourg.
Ramadan's academic career has always been secondary to his religious enthusiasms. In the early 1990s, he founded the Movement of Swiss Muslims, to bring Islam to Swiss and European youth. The European secret services - noting that, around the same time, Ramadan pursued further Islamic studies in Cairo - believe he was chosen to act as the Muslim Brotherhood's figurehead in Europe, an allegation he firmly denies. He also denies press allegations of links to terrorism in general and al-Qaeda in particular.
Ramadan's big idea (set out in his latest book, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, now published in English by Oxford University Press) is that Islam is an essential part of modernity. The opposition between western and non-western societies should be dissolved, he says, into a "European and American Islamic culture", which would allow Muslims to live in the west without any sense of contradiction.
But what does Ramadan mean by this? He talks constantly of respect for European tradition (by which he means Judaeo-Christian religious thinking) but rarely gives any positive examples of what he means in terms of art, music or literature (the poet Rimbaud is quoted, but only in a distorted and misleading fashion). His only advice to Muslims in the US is to commit themselves to "the spiritual life" and "radical resistance".
What is clear from Ramadan's writings is that, for young Muslims, integration into western society as it exists is not an option. He refers to the concept of tawhid, faith in the unity of God, which he sees as a universal value. It is the west that has to be integrated into this totality. In other words, he does not see Islam adapting to local conditions - as is the case with many more progressive Islamic thinkers such as Mohammed Taleb or Malek Chebel - but as an extension of the "house of Islam" into the land of the unbelievers. Muslims in Europe should not consider themselves a minority in alien territory but as leaders in the spiritual redemption of the west.
At his office in Saint-Denis, I put it to Ramadan that there is some justification in his critics seeing him as the enemy of a multicultural society. "It is important, I think, not to see Europe and Islam as two separate, monolithic terms," he says. "I am a Muslim and European, and the two identities do not always have to be in contradiction. I think multiculturalism is a way forward. But really, cultures are not separate beings. Islam is and always was a participant in the history of Europe. Unfortunately, many Europeans do not understand this either. And it is this lack of knowledge which creates suspicion and ultimately war."
So is he really arguing not for a "European Islam", but for an "Islamified Europe"? "These two words are another false opposition," he replies. "Islam has always been part of European history. It is wrong to think otherwise. But Islam in Europe is the same Islam as across the world. The duty for Muslims now is to take Islam from the periphery of European culture to the centre."
He goes on: "France is one of the most tense European countries from the point of view of cultural and religious conflict. That is why it is so important to bring Islam, which is universal, into debate here, a place where there is no coherent political belief."
Ramadan is equally clear about the need for intellectuals in the west to understand that Islam is not the exclusive property of medieval-minded fanatics, but, as he sees it, a living component of modernity in Europe and the rest of the world. Ramadan himself lays claim to legitimacy in such debates by stressing that he is a trained philosopher in the western tradition and that, from Friedrich Nietzsche to Jean Baudrillard, there are distinctly European influences on his thinking. He cites as key influences the French writer and film-maker Guy Debord (also a favourite thinker of many in the anti-globalisation movement) and his book The Society of the Spectacle (1967). "Debord saw that modernity in the west had reached the end of its uses for capitalism," says Ramadan. "My opinion, like that of Debord, is that in the west we are trapped in a society of spectacles, illusions. But we are obliged also to fight against false representations, false images of the world."
In France, Ramadan, despite his ubiquitous media presence, is personally still very much the object of fear and suspicion. He does not hold a French passport and was banned from entering France in 1995 by Charles Pasqua, then minister of the interior, on suspicion of having links with the Algerian terrorists who had launched a bombing campaign in Paris that year. More recently, leading intellectuals in France have charged him with spreading the crudest and most divisive form of anti-Semitism.
This came to a head in an article that Ramadan published on the internet in which he accused several leading Jewish intellectuals in France of "communitarian politics". By supporting the Anglo-American war in Iraq, he says, they were also supporting Israel. The names cited by Ramadan included secular thinkers such as Alain Finkielkraut and the humanitarian Bernard Kouchner. Ramadan also accused the writer Bernard-Henri Levy of "vilifying Pakistan" in his book Who Killed Daniel Pearl?, an emotive account of the American journalist's murder.
Most loaded of all was Ramadan's use of the term "communitarian politics" as a charge against the liberal intelligentsia. In French, it carries with it not only an attack on the intellectual integrity of individuals, but also a challenge to the fundamental principles of the Republic. Ramadan was, in other words, not only accusing Jewish intellectuals of Jewish self-interest but also, in an echo of the Dreyfus affair, of deliberately acting against the interests of the state. This is precisely why the level-headed and highly respected Kouchner called him "a most dangerous man". Ramadan's response to his critics is that he does not want to be drawn into "a discourse of hate". He adds that all Muslims must know how to rise above such predictable enemies. "There are certain insults which are unworthy and which we do not have to answer," he says.
The cafe in the elegant courtyard of the Grande Mosquee de Paris, in the heart of the Latin Quarter, is a long way from the grimy streets of Saint-Denis. It has always been a tolerant place and is at present a fashionable meeting place for young Parisian Muslims of both sexes. At the cafe tables, the jury is still out on Tariq Ramadan. "He pretends to be a moderate but anyone who has heard his speeches knows that he is a sympathiser with hardliners," says a well-dressed young woman in a disgusted tone of voice. The writer and academic Khalid Amine, who travels frequently between Morocco and Paris, offers a slightly different view. "Ramadan is important because he can speak to both sides - to moderate Muslims and to fundamentalists," he says. "But it remains to be seen what can emerge from this dialogue."
The consensus at the Grande Mosquee, which has always been at considerable remove from hardliners, is that Ramadan is no Martin Luther, but a propagandist for radical Islam. However, even his enemies agree that his message does contain one important insight: that the real conflict of the 21st century is not between east and west, or even rich and poor, but between ignorance and knowledge, sacred truth and lies.
This distinction is, as Ramadan sees it, the issue that defines the new wars of religion, from Iraq to the council estates of Paris. Most importantly, and most dangerously, as his support grows in France, Europe and even in the United States, Ramadan is beginning to feel sure that he is on the winning side.