Sunday, December 12, 2004

Tariq Ramadan's Critics (Part 6)

I cannot claim to have arrived at a definitive conclusion here concerning the facts, but one thing is clear. Tariq Ramadan's critics are from two different camps: on the one hand, people whose motive seems to be mainly 'zionist', Melanie Phillips in Britain, Bernard-Henri Lévy (who endorsed Fourest's book) in France, not to mention numerous people in the United States; on the other, radical feminists and secularists. Both move from attacking open opponents of democracy and supporters of violence to attacking Islamism and even Islam itself.

Another quotation from Feminist Europa :  'The real lines of fracture, far from separating Islam from "the rest of the world," divide the democrats from the theocrats, in other words, partisans of a metropolis that is open, tolerant, protective of individual liberties..'. That's the theory. In practice, the arguments of the agressive secularists line up with the ultra-zionists and the proponents of (Christian) 'moral values', against Islam.

According to Caroline Fourest, Ramadan is a planter, not of bombs admittedly, but 'of  ideas particularly harmful for public liberties'. If, as she attempts to prove, he is an intégriste or 'islamist', then by definition he is one of 'those who instrumentalise the religious for liberticide political ends'. In the end, all she succeeds in proving is that agressive secularism risks turning into something very like the religious intolerance it attacks.

Its arguments chime with those like Daniel Pipes who support the US revoking Ramadan's visa, preventing him taking up a  post at a University that was 'looking for a scholar who could "lead us into interreligious dialogue and intrareligious dialogue and religious-secular dialogue"  '.

A senior European counterterrorism official, quoted by the NYT,  'thought the United States was wise to keep him out because of what he referred to as the professor's "dangerous" ideas.' Such thinking was wrong during the Cold War and it is wrong now, indeed in my opinion, even more dangerous now.

We are told that Ramadan's grandfather and the Muslim Brotherhood 'gave birth to' (Caroline Fourest) or 'fathered'  (Melanie Phillips) Islamic terrorism. Marx 'fathered' Stalin and the Khmer Rouge. Christianity 'gave birth to' anti-semitism (e.g. the Blood Libel). Wagner and Nietzche 'fathered' Nazism. Almost any powerful idea can 'give birth to' extremist forms. The answer is not to try to suppress the ideas, but to explore their limitations by patient and honest examination (this is what I tried to do in Part 4, for example).

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