Tariq feels challenged: "hard times for Muslims"

The challenge of being Muslim in an age of globalisation

By Tariq Ramadan

Brother Tariq whines about “ hard times for muslims”

He is pleased that female soccer players are wrapped in shrouds at the Olympics; he worries about demonstrations against Sharia in the west (can’t have that!)  and that sacking of four Islamo-jerks in France who couldn’t do their job because of Ramadan, but have since been reinstated.  Really: hard times for Muslims. How hard is that?

Being Muslim has become synonymous with pointed questions, with tension and mistrust, even with conflict. It has become a global phenomenon with profound consequences for inter-communal relations, political rhetoric and policies at the local, regional, national and international level.

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Hardly a week goes by without the “Muslim question” being raised, through a local controversy, a regional conflict or a national debate, through violence, extremism or literalism, or through the rise to power of Islamist parties in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt (years after electoral victory in Palestine).

(Electoral victory? In Palestine? Where is that? Let me guess: the election of Hamas?  LOL!)

Islam, well beyond its extremist, literalist or political interpretations, has become an issue – the globalisation of information reinforces a worldwide collective state of mind that legitimises doubt, mistrust and even stigmatisation, while touching off defensive reactions that range from a sense of victimhood to uncontrolled aggression. In sum, these are hard times for Muslims, who must confront numerous challenges, both locally and on a global scale.

Confusion is widespread. (You don’t say, Tariq!)  Everything seems connected, thrown indiscriminately together in an endless flow of media coverage that has become almost impossible to analyse and to decode. FIFA (the world football body) finally accepted headscarves, but France rejected them. Demonstrations against Sharia took place in the streets of London as did protests against its application in the United States. Four French camp councillors were dismissed, then rehired, for fasting during Ramadan.

In the Netherlands, Muslims faced outright calumny, all amplified by real-time media coverage and the internet, as if to echo the rise of political Islam and the Arab uprisings, the civil war raging in Syria, the Israel-Palestine question, Sunni-Shiite tensions, incidents of stoning in northern Mali by literalist Salafists, and the resurgence of calls for a stricter application of Islam in Pakistan, Malaysia and certain monarchies. Nor can we overlook the repression against Muslims in China and now, Myanmar, as well as inter-religious tensions in numerous African and Asian countries.

When muslims rape and plunder and try to steal other peoples land it is likely that there is a blowback, brother Tariq. You call that ‘repression?’

Simply observing the state of the world and the societies that comprise it confronts us with the question of Islam: it lies at the heart of the coexistence of religions, of the relationships between civilisations, of secularisation, of ideological choices and models of state structures, of connections between regional cultures and globalisation, of civil society and its future, of the status of women and citizens.

(“Coexistence of religions” means the elimination of the other;  and that means the eradication of everything and anything that stands in the way of Islamic supremacy).

The issue cannot be eluded: every responsible human being now faces the question of Islam and must weigh the evidence, draw conclusions, and take a stand.

Islam is self-evident; everything else has to make way. In other words, the grandson of Hassan al Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, is telling us to submit to Islam.

Powerful lobbies and interest groups have much to gain from maintaining ideological and media pressure, with the avowed intent of transforming Islam into a threat and Muslims into shadowy, dangerous beings. One need only recall the words of David Yerushalmi (the instigator of the anti-Sharia campaign in the United States): even if the attempt to pass anti-Sharia legislation fails, the important thing is to create a buzz, sow the seeds of controversy and convince the average citizen that Islam is a threat.

The Jews, the Jews!

The crushing failure of an anti-Islam campaign may be made out to be a huge success by virtue of the noise it creates. The same logic unites populists in many countries: carefully targeted media campaigns operating on a similar sliding scale are used in coverage of Muslim-majority countries.

We haven’t even started yet, brother Tariq.

The deafening silence of most western media towards the Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali or Hosni Mubarak dictatorships quickly gave way to support for democracy with fine-tuned sensitivity to the treatment of women, of homosexuals and religious minorities in the successor regimes – precisely the kind of questions that were never asked of the dictators, and which are only whispered when it comes to allies in the Gulf. In fact, purely ideological media coverage and distortion of information stands increasingly exposed.

“Deafening silence?”  Western media reported,  there was no silence. The rest are red herrings, strawmen… the usual….

What I am describing is by no means a “global conspiracy” against Islam and against Muslims, as some fantasise. Of course, centres of ideological interest do exist, but it is equally clear that the media machine and the political reactions it provokes form a vicious circle. Controversy whets public curiosity, which feeds into populist strategy that in turn drives short-term electoral tactics – the media then plays to a guaranteed audience.

Brother Tariq doesn’t believe in conspiracy theories, except those he believes; and some of them are better than others……

In a hi-tech age, with its instantaneous processing of information and global competition, Islam is profitable. No doubt about it: Islam makes money, plenty of money. Caught between ideological manipulation and the logic of capitalism, Islam – and with it the fate of Muslims – finds itself in a negative, not to say oppressive, dynamic.

Not for the “Islamophobes”.  The money for  the armies of  Islamo-propagandists is sheer unlimited. The 16 trillion the US is in debt is identical with the money we paid to the Saudis for the oil over the last 30 years. The  ‘Islamophobes’ are doing it tough.

How are we to extricate ourselves? How, first and foremost, can we escape from the mentality of the eternal victim that overcomes us when the worldwide media and political tsunami, transforming Islam into a global threat, sweeps away all in its path. Paradoxically, in its extreme negativity, our predicament also contains many of the elements needed to overcome it and move beyond it. When people ask questions about Islam and Muslims – often in perfect ignorance – the latter are presented with an excellent opportunity to explain, to educate and to engage in dialogue.

Infidels are ignorant. How original!  Waxing lyrical about tsunami? Well, the Islamic tsunami is all over us, not the other way around.

If their worldwide visibility is seen as a problem because of their dress codes, their names, their colours (or because of regional conflicts), the solution is not to become less visible. The modern era has summoned Muslims to a global jihad of knowledge, of education, of dialogue, of communication and of resistance. A jihad of serenity, peacefulness, non-violence – of bearing witness. Our point of departure is self-knowledge, and self-criticism that avoids the extremes of interpretational deception and self-flagellation.

Try Rumy, Tariq. Fairytales are not your forte.

A Muslim conscience must emerge, one that can clearly state what Islam is and what it is not (in full respect of diversity and pluralism), and to denounce hypocrisy, both our own and that of self-serving or populist ideologies. An open conscience can respond to the legitimate questions of a majority that seek to understand, as well as a courageous conscience that can stand up to the racism of a minority that deceives, lies and manipulates.

Who would that lying, deceitful minority be? Let me guess…. Is it the Jews again?  C’omon, brother, can’t you write anything without bringing the Jews into it?

I for one will not wait for Islamic pluralism, and  I don’t care for Islamic diversity either. I prefer ours.

Our commitment must be individual, local, national and worldwide. The dynamics that today have made Islam a problem have also transformed it into a question: it is the responsibility of Muslim women and Muslim men to step forward with confident answers.

If you don’t have answers don’t expect them from the mindless drones who look up to you, Tariq. Perhaps you should start questioning your belief-system or drop it altogether.

Tariq Ramadan is professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University and a visiting professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Qatar. He is the author of Islam and the Arab Awakening.

3 thoughts on “Tariq feels challenged: "hard times for Muslims"”

  1. You can’t stop being black/white/red skinned, you can’t stop being gay, you can’t help being born a women.
    I can stop being blond, and they can stop being muslim.

    Is this hate speach? Or merely the truth. People are judged by the company they keep, don’t like the judgment, don’t keep the company.

  2. Dispatch International: Tariq Ramadan Does Washington

    Written by: Diana West
    Thursday, September 27, 2012 6:26 AM

    Here is my most recent piece for Dispatch International, the brand new weekly newspaper edited by Lars Hedegaard, available in English, Danish, Swedish and German. (Subscription information here)

    Our motto is taken from Thomas Jefferson: Freedom of the press cannot be limited without being lost.

    “Now Playing in Washington: More Lies from Tariq Ramadan”

    WASHINGTON, DC — When I read that Tariq Ramadan would be speaking at a local bookstore in Washington, DC on September 11, the juxtaposition gave me a jolt. Was Ramadan – the world-famous and Left-celebrated Muslim “intellectual” banned from France for six months in the 1990s for alleged terror ties, and later from the US for six years (2004-2010) for reasons said to include charitable donations to HAMAS – really an appropriate choice for this darkest of anniversaries? But there was something intriguing about the prospect. What message would this scion of the Muslim Brotherhood deliver to the largely liberal upper middle class masses who would throng the bookstore to hear him?

    I had never before seen Ramadan in action, but I knew his reputation for glibness, “doubletalk”, and contradiction. From these waves of words, as I would see, listeners seem to extract what is most shiny and appealing, and, as I would watch, nod their heads in recognition.

    Never mind that among his favorite Muslim philosophers is Mohammed Rashid Rida, whom Islamic expert Andrew Bostom has described as a “full-throated, public supporter of the political aspirations of Ibn Saud’s Wahhabism”. Never mind that Ramadan, grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, unequivocably states there is “nothing in this heritage” that he rejects.

    The Muslim Brotherhood, a shadowy organization with violent offshoots (including al-Qaeda) is best summed up by its motto: “Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” But not to worry: Tariq Ramadan says he isn’t a member. Here in the bookstore, he repeatedly emphasized “dignity, justice and freedom” as the goals of so-called Arab Spring. People nodded. I doubt many realized these are the English-language buzz words of the Muslim Brotherhood, too.

    Then again, maybe they did. Maybe it was Ramadan’s lineage – the grandfather he reveres, his father Said Ramadan, who spearheaded the Muslim Brotherhood’s entry into Europe – that drew the audience to his side where they could enjoy the frisson of the forbidden while taking comfort in Ramadan’s media-driven reputation as a “moderate.” But Tariq Ramadan is anything but “moderate.” Otherwise, he wouldn’t lie so much.

    “There is no contradiction between Islamic teachings and democratic principles. The problem is not concept; it’s terminology,” Ramadan told a Georgetown University audience (via satellite) in 2007. He said much the same thing to us in the bookstore five years later, but it still wasn’t true. For starters, Islamic teachings promote the supremacy of Islam over other religions; the dominion of men over women; the suppression of free speech and conscience. Each of these teachings thoroughly contradicts democratic principles, but never mind. Ramadan rattled off his list – the same list as in 2007 – of five “indisputable” principles of Islam that he says are also fundamentals of democracy. He included: rule of law; equal rights for all citizens; universal suffrage; accountability of government; separation of powers.

    Rule of law? There is no overlap between Islamic law (sharia) and Western law, so Ramadan must obfuscate. “What is the definition of sharia?” he asked rhetorically, acknowledging the alarm sharia is increasingly provoking in the West, while simultaneously suggesting there is widespread ignorance about sharia among those who analyze it. “If you use the term, it’s over.” For some reason, people laughed.

    The creation of smokescreens, however, is a very serious part of Ramadan’s work. Don’t pay attention to the proliferation of women wearing headscarfs in a society, he instructed us, because it means nothing. “Beware of symbols,” he said. Really? When asked in an interview this month if there is a place for sharia in the West, he replied: “My position is to say, ‘Look, sharia is a way. It’s a path. So, for example, when I am based in Switzerland, my country, or in the West, and the law of the country is saying that we are equal before law, I say: ‘This is my sharia’.”

    In Ramadan-speak, the facts about Islam are eliminated to transform it into a generic good. In the post-revolution Middle East countries, that means Islam becomes “an ethical reference” for governance – a means of “having more ethics in politics”, as he put it. And who could argue with having more ethics in politics? He went on to critique the American separation of church and state. “If you separate the state from religion, what do you put there? What do you have directing the state? Religion imposes a framework or structure,” he told us, offering Islamicizing Turkey as a model of a successful “civil state”.

    Not surprisingly, Ramadan denies what is Islamic about any given flash point. In 2005 when Muslim mobs were burning French cities night after night, Ramadan said: “Above all, one must not Islamisize the question of the suburbs. The question France must answer is absolutely not a question of religion.” Earlier this year, when Mohammed Merah slaughtered four Jews (including three children) and three soldiers in France (yelling “Allahu Akbar”, repeating to police the jihadist creed of loving death as non-Muslims love life, having frequented jihadist groups in Afghanistan and Pakistan), Ramadan wrote: “Religion was not Mohammed Merah’s problem; nor is politics … Mohamed Merah was French (whose behaviour was as remote from the Qur’anic message as it was from Voltaire’s texts). …”

    I can see Merah’s remoteness from Voltaire – for whom, incidentally, Ramadan himself has no love, having successfully opposed a Swiss revival of Voltaire’s “Mahomet” – but Merah‘s remoteness from the Koranic institution of jihad? It is fantasy like this that is the basis of Ramadan’s faux “moderation” – and his faux creation “European Islam”.

    Sometimes, however, the mask slips. One famous example came in 2003 when Ramadan, debating Nicolas Sarkozy, called for a “moratorium” – not an abolition – on the sharia “hudud” punishment of stoning. Last year, while addressing an Islamic convention in Texas, Ramadan abandoned talk of interchangeable Islamic and Western ways to declare: “It should be us, with our understanding of Islam, our principles, colonizing positively the United States of America.” And last week, Ramadan strenuously exhorted Muslims in France to abstain from the anti-“blasphemy” rioting convulsing the Muslim world because it would be “counter-productive”. It is as if Ramadan knows well that Islamic rampages over the fact that Islamic law is not dominant everywhere, all the time, threaten all his hard work to keep Europeans and Americans nodding.

    “We are French,” he urged French Muslim leaders to remind the Islamic community. “We are for the future of France.”

    An Islamic future.

  3. Tariq Ramadan: The Case of the Grand Deception

    By Steven Emerson

    No case illustrates the murderous deception of Western society by Islamic militants more than the recent episode involving Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss professor who was denied a visa to teach at Notre dame. His supporters in the U.S. rallied vigorously around Mr. Ramadan, protesting with total moral certitude the politically outrageous move by the U.S. government to muzzle a Muslim “moderate”. The coalition to defend Ramadan included The New York Times, The Washington Post, academic boards around the country, Islamic advocacy groups and human rights groups. Their near unanimous message was that Mr. Ramadan was a genuine “moderate” and “Islamic pluralist”, but that even if one disagreed with some of his statements, Mr. Ramadan surely should have been entitled to have his ideas debated in the great free marketplace of ideas of the American campus.

    Miraculously, the coalition of high priests of political correctness, Wahabi groups masquerading as pluralists, and the elite censors of fair and balanced journalism did not prevail. Mr. Ramadan was not given a visa and soon, in an act of righteous indignation, refused to reapply for another visa.

    Even after the murderous actions by Islamic militants on 9-11 in the U.S., and in fact in carrying out or planning terrorist operations in more than 90 countries between 1990 and 2003, the American intelligentsia in a devilish collusion with radical Islamic groups hiding under false veneer, have managed to perpetrate the grand deception of militant Islam: pretending to be moderate (small d) democrats, pluralists, and victims of hate. Radical Islamic groups have continued to invert reality, turning facts on their head, in a stunning ability to anoint themselves as the victims of hate as opposed to the murderous reality that they are the progenitors of hate. Where else could radical Islamic leaders like Yousef Al Qardawi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood who calls for killing Jews (not just Israelis but Jews) and Americans (not just occupiers), be described as “moderate” or a pro-western “reformer” or variations of this theme (Washington Post, The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times)? Where else could one hear that Jihad was a “beautiful” concept, as was broadcast recently on National Public Radio, devoid of any violent or militant meaning? NPR’s commentator was the daughter of an Islamic American leader who justified the killing of Robert Kennedy–a fact NPR withheld from its listeners but paled in comparison to its brazen willingness to air a de facto commercial for al Qaeda–with the commentator ending her Islamist (tax-payer subsidized) infomercial with the following line: “Someday, I hope ‘jihad’ will find its way back into our lexicon, when it can be used properly, in sentences like ‘She’s on a jihad to achieve the American Dream.’”

    In the decade and a half before 9-11, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al Qaeda and virtually every other radical Islamic group and leader successfully perpetrated the most brilliant strategic enemy deception in U.S. history by planting themselves in the heart of enemy territory under false cover as non-profit (and of course tax deductible) humanitarian groups, civil rights groups, and non-political religious institutions. Until 9-11, the deceit had continued with staggering success as radical Islamic groups and leaders were routinely invited to the White House, provided with federal funding, praised by politicians, and lionized by the media.

    But before this charade was exposed, nearly 3,000 Americans were forced to pay with their lives as the price for the belated realization that we had been had. Suddenly, charities that had been secretly operating as conduits for terrorists and established American Muslim leaders leading double lives as terrorist masterminds were finally being recognized for what they were: Terrorists. And instead of being toasted at the State Department, they were now more appropriately being prosecuted, shut down and deported.

    And yet, more than three years after 9-11, it would seem that this same homicidal self-delusion is alive and well in the United States. This is where Mr. Ramadan comes to play such a pivotal role in highlighting the danger of this continued self-deception.

    First, Mr. Ramadan is not any more a moderate than David Duke would be considered a moderate on race relations. The only difference is that David Duke is not smart enough to speak in two languages, cloak his racism under the mantle of pluralism or enjoy the witting collaboration of the media.

    In several interviews given to various European publications over the last few years, Mr. Ramadan has repeatedly provided a justification for terrorist acts against U.S. allies such as Israel and Russia and, more recently, against the U.S. itself. Asked by the Italian magazine Panorama if the killing of civilians is right, Mr. Ramadan unambiguously responded that “In Palestine, Iraq, Chechnya, there is a situation of oppression, repression and dictatorship. It is legitimate for Muslims to resist fascism that kills the innocent.” When asked if car bombings against U.S. forces in Iraq were legitimate, Professor Ramadan responded that “Iraq was colonized by the Americans. The resistance against the army is just.”

    Mastering the art of taqiyya (double speaking to fool the unbelievers), Tariq Ramadan has enchanted many with his apparent moderation. But a careful examination of his words reveals that Professor Ramadan is not what he seems and claims to be. Yes, he says that he “agrees with integration” of Muslims in the West, but he is careful to say that “we [Muslims] are the ones who are going to decide the content.” He mollifies by saying that he accepts Western secular law, but, here’s the catch, “only if this law doesn’t force me to do things against my religion.” And when he is cornered with questions on the brutality of some punishments of Islamic law, such as stoning, he tells us that he is against them, but (there is always a “but”) they are in Quranic texts and so he cannot fully condemn them and we have to settle for “an absolute moratorium on all physical punishments.”

    The telegenic, soft-spoken and charming professor is just the modern, westernized face of the same enemy that wears a different mask on other battlefields. As the distinguished expert of Middle East affairs Fouad Ajami recently wrote, Tariq Ramadan is, “in the world of the new Islamism, pure nobility.” His moderate façade hides his radical heart and just a careful read of his words would reveal it. France, the country that knows him best, has made up its mind on him. A court in Lyon recently said that preachers like Tariq Ramadan “can exert an influence on young Islamists and therefore constitute an incitement that can lead them to join violent groups.”

    In France at least, some leftist intellectuals have recognized Mr. Ramadan for what he is. The self-censorious New York Times was even forced to report that Bernard-Henri Levy, who wrote the best-seller “Who Killed Daniel Pearl,” accused Ramadan of being the “intellectual champion of all kinds of double-talk” with a “racist vision of the world” and having promoted anti-Semitism. The Times further reported that Bernard Kouchner, the foreign aid advocate and former health minister of France, called Mr. Ramadan “absolutely a kook with no historical memory” and “a dangerous man.” He added, “The way he denounced some Jewish intellectuals is close to anti-Semitism.”

    Still, the Ramadan fan club in the U.S. continued to portray the exclusion of Mr. Ramadan as part of an anti-Muslim campaign; the charge of anti-Muslim racism, part of the larger orchestration by radical Muslims to portray themselves as the victims of hate, has been mastered perfectly, requiring only the collaboration of the American media. At the height of the controversy last year, The New York Times opined that “American Muslim groups questioned the government’s ability or willingness to distinguish between what they see as Muslim moderates like Mr. Ramadan and extremists.” But who were these American Muslim groups, portrayed by the Times as intellectually honest arbiters of who really is a moderate? None other than off-shoots and branches of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic radical movement that gave birth to al Qaeda and Hamas, and whose founder was none other than Hassan Al-Banna, the grandfather of Mr. Ramadan.

    And there are those who fall back on the free market response: Is the most powerful nation in the world afraid of allowing Mr. Ramadan access to the intellectual pluralism of the U.S., where free speech is honored as the most sacred privilege that we have?

    Well, Mr. Ramadan does not need to be in the United States to convey his message and thoughts. Through the Internet, media and instant telecommunications, the American public is not being denied one iota of Mr. Ramadan’s propaganda.

    After the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the same defenders of Mr. Ramadan–The New York Times and other elite media–were the first to ask probing and indignant questions about how the blind Sheik, with his radical views, was able to get visas to the United States in the early 1990′s. But that was before he was indicted or convicted of any U.S. crime. So apparently, the high priests at the time decided that the premium of free speech for non-U.S. guests was not sacred; that in fact, the right to visit the U.S. was not a constitutional right afforded to any citizen of the world, a view unfortunately increasingly espoused by editorial boards.

    Title 8 U.S. Code Section 1182 requires the exclusion from the U.S. of any alien who has “used his position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity, or to persuade others to support terrorist activity or a terrorist organization.” The provision seems written to fit Ramadan’s case. The entry into the United States of any foreign national is, by law, a privilege and not a right. It is preposterous to ask the U.S. government to disregard its own laws and to grant this privilege to a person who openly condones attacks against U.S. forces and interests.

    Aside from the legal justification for barring Mr. Ramadan, the moral reason for keeping Mr. Ramadan out is the same reason why the U.S. has for years denied visas to neo-Nazi proponents from Western Europe. It is not only the access to the United States that both neo-Nazis and Mr. Ramadan have sought. Rather it is the official imprimatur of the U.S. government, an effective declaration of political legitimacy attending to the granting of the visa. And that is precisely same legitimacy that allowed militant Islamic groups to operate for so long in the United States. Do we really want to repeat history?

    By Steven Emerson

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