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Fouad Ajami on Tariq Ramadan

In September Fouad Ajami, professor at the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins, discussed the Tariq Ramadan issue in the Wall St. Journal. The article is archived here. Ajami, a Shia Muslim who was born in Lebanon, is a regular contributor to the WSJ and is the author of The Dream Palace of the Arabs.

In the WSJ article Ajami discusses Ramadan's "spin" on his lineage:

The genealogy of Tariq Ramadan was fundamental to his ascendancy to power and prominence: Nasab (acquired merit through one's ancestors) is one of the pillars of Arab-Islamic society. . . . Mr. Ramadan could embrace his grandfather while maintaining, when needed, that the sins of ancestors cannot be visited on descendents. But he would never walk away from his legacy, and pride in his grandfather suffuses his work. In a piece of writing in November 2000, the reverence for Banna was astounding. No, he would not, [Ramadan] said, disown his descent from a man who "resisted British and Zionist colonialisms, who founded 2,000 schools, 500 social centers, and as many developmental cooperatives," and who never ordered or sanctioned terrorist attacks. No serious historian of Egypt in the '40s would let stand this version of history. (emphasis added)

Again, Mr. Ramadan appears to have quite a different perspective on the historical legacy of his grandfather, Hassan al-Banna.

Ajami then addresses the notion that Ramadan is an "assimilationist" moderate:

[Ramadan's] big theme was the fate of Islam in the new lands of the West; not for him the theme of assimilation. His was a different prescription, artfully stated: The Muslims would live the life of the faith within Europe, for Islam, he maintained, had always been a fact of European life. France was zealously republican and lacit, secularism, was its civil religion. Mr. Ramadan preached a different doctrine: The Muslims of France had not been parties to that secularism, and they ought to be free to challenge its basic canons.

Ajami also states that - shades of the Dreyfus affair - Ramadan charged several French intellectuals as being "for Israel" instead of for France, leading Bernard Kouchner, the French founder of Doctors Without Borders, to chasten Ramadan as a "most dangerous man."

Prof. Ajami's conclusion to the article is as follows:

The liberty of an open society can never be a suicide pact, and the freedom of the academy is never absolute. . . . [Ramadan] can and will no doubt continue his work while the Muslims in North America cast about for a measure of peace in this new world. For them, there is the path of assimilation. It was, after all, the legacy of Hassan al-Banna that pushed them to these shores.

One would hope that this would put an end to the fools screaming "censorship" by keeping Ramadan out. It certainly will not.

November 4, 2004 | Permalink


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