Monday, April 19, 2010

An Islamic Superstar Comes to America: Tariq Ramadan

by Maggie at Maggie's Notebook

President G. W. Bush banned a suave, sophisticated and very smooth Muslim, Tariq Ramadan, from America because of his ties to Islamic terrorism. Today we have no Islamic terrorism in the U.S. so Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama offered America's hospitality once again, and Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, is free to come and go in this country.

Tariq Ramadan
In almost everything I read about Tariq Ramadan, he is described as a man with an amicable message...unless he is speaking to Arabic-speading audiences. This from Discover the Networks:
But to Arabic-speaking audiences, he vents his deep-seated hatred of the West and his endorsement of Wahhabism, the most extreme form of Islam. Moreover, Ramadan has numerous connections to fundamentalist Islamic militants and is suspected by U.S. intelligence agencies of maintaining ties with the terrorist group al Qaeda.
From the NYT
...this month, Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Muslim academic, visited the United States for the first time in six years after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reversed a decision by the Bush administration, which had barred Mr. Ramadan from entering the country, initially citing the U.S.A. Patriot Act. Mrs. Clinton also cleared the way for another well-known Muslim professor, Adam Habib, who had been denied entry under similar circumstances. 
Some call him an Islamist in disguise and a master of deception, and others call him an Islamic Superstar.
In the 1990s, Western liberals, alarmed at the presence of Islamic fundamentalists in their midst, turned in desperation to Muslims whom they dubbed “reformers” or “modernizers.” They hoped that these figures would have a moderating influence on disaffected Muslim youths who refused to integrate into Western society. One such “reformer” is Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss-born academic. Ramadan has won the confidence of many in the West, including the British government, which asked him to serve on its task force for preventing Islamic extremism. But as Caroline Fourest shows in her superbly documented book, which first appeared in French in 2004, Ramadan is not a worthy figure.
But in the U.S.the superstar gets a spread in The New Yorker. It is an interesting piece by George Packer who sat on a panel and had the opportunity to ask Ramadan a couple of questions, but before his questions, here are some of Packer's observations:
Ramadan—slim, famously handsome, graying in his frizzy hair and trim beard, wearing his habitual suit with open-neck shirt—was introduced as a wrongly banned speaker, and received an ovation. His opening remarks, which he’d been scribbling backstage on a piece of paper next to a bust of George Washington, congratulated the U.S. for allowing him in, thanked the free-speech groups that had fought for his entry, criticized American foreign policy in passing, and then affirmed the existence of multiple identities within individuals, urging Muslims to stop worrying about integration in the West and instead focus on contributing to their new homes....
Once Ramadan sat down, and the panel and audience got involved, he became much sharper. Hearing him talk for an hour and a half, you realized what he is and isn’t. He is not a philosopher, or an original thinker. He has been cast in that role by recent historical crises and his own ambition—the role of someone whom large numbers of people turn to for insight on a vast range of issues, from the Islamic texts to globalization, from unemployment in France to women’s rights. 
What he has to say about most subjects is garden-variety European leftism. When questions of Islam and Muslims join the debate, his stance is that of a reconciler: he wants to make it possible for young Muslims to affirm their religious faith as an identity while fully participating as citizens of secular democracies. That’s his main project, an important one, and it’s where he is at his best: as a kind of preacher to confused, questing young Muslims who want to know how to live, where they fit in. And because American Muslims are not a large and disenfranchised and angry minority in this country, I don’t think this calling leaves him with very much to say to audiences here....
An American Tariq Ramadan would likelier be talking to groups of young blacks or Hispanics.
For more on Tariq Ramadan: The Ultimate Uber-Muslim: Bringing Euro-Islam to Life

Background and Related:
Obamas quiet outreach to muslims not so quiet

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