Letters on Tariq Ramadan

Christopher Jones forwards two letters on Tariq Ramadan. "Ramadan's vital work" The Guardian (9/1/04)

The department of homeland security's de facto veto of the University of Notre Dame's appointment of the Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan to a chair in the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies is offensive, not least as a denial of academic freedom (An oft-repeated 'truth', August 31). This revocation of Ramadan's work visa bears the imprint of those influential supporters of Israel's rightwing government in the Pentagon. These pro-Sharon neocons have been at the centre of the Bush administration's foreign policy. A close scrutiny of Ramadan's work reveals an erudite, provocative scholar; one committed to the further evolution of Islam's understanding of its revelation and religious practice. Moreover, he is concerned to facilitate the discussions that must ensue if Judaism, Christianity and Islam are to build mutual respect en route to developing some common ground.

We must examine the tactics of Ramadan's accusers. While they offer no evidence that he is a threat to US security, he is readily charged with being anti-semitic - a tactic widely used by pro-Sharon elements in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and those in the Pentagon who would intimidate and silence critics of the current government of Israel. This tactic is being widely used by neoconservatives, for example Daniel Pipes, whose campuswatch website encourages students to report professors who contest Israel's policies.

In short, criticism of Israel is now glibly equated with anti-semitism. (Ramadan's offence, inter alia, was to have rebuked French Jewish intellectuals for their silence on Israel's murderous tactics in the occupied territories.) What is more, it is not only Muslim leaders and other non-Jewish opponents of Israel's continued control and settlement of the territories who are targeted in this manner. Jews in the peace movements who protest Sharon's policies also find themselves smeared as anti-semitic, "self-hating Jews".
Prof Peter Walshe
Fellow of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA

Ramadan has pointed out that an oft-repeated assumption becomes the "truth". For that reason, not only is he now a terrorist sympathiser, but also his accusers, by withdrawing his visa, are maintaining the illusion that they are conducting a war on terror. They are thus neatly reversing the actual truth, while ensuring that the culture under attack, Islam, is never understood by the people whose leadership is intent on global hegemony.
David Clarke

Hitherto unknown in the US. Tariq Ramadan has become prominent because of the refusal of the US to grant him a visa to teach at Notre Dame University,  From France, Christopher Jones writes: "I am including for WAISers some excerpts from an October 3, 2003 article by Tariq Ramadan posted by Oumma.com. that I have translated.  The US decision to revoke his working visa is truly a bad sign.  Although he may appear contradictory at times, Ramadan does see the need for constructive dialogue and at least recognizes a major problem: the proximity of the Islamic world coupled with hopeless conditions for immigrants in the suburbs of Europe's great cities.  However, as someone who has been also stigmatized with the word "antisemite" I am hoping that Prof. Ramadan's diagnosis of the "antisemite" problem and the official US governmental response should at serve to remind WAISers that greater forces are at work -- forces to could lead the US and the rest of the world to its greatest conflagration ever . . .

" . . . Over several years, (even before the second intifada) French Jewish intellectuals who until  then had been considered as universal thinkers, began both nationally and internationally to develop analyses more and more directed by community concerns that aspire to relativise the defence of universal principles of equality or justice . . .
" . . . The works of Pierre André Tanguieff are very revealing.  His pamphlet The New Judeophobia is the prototype of a "scholarly" reflection  that pooh poohs scientific criteria.  The sociologist transformed himself in the defender of a community in danger whose new enemy, real or potential is the Arab, the Moslem, be he French. It is impossible to find here a perspective based on critical analysis of the social policy of the state, the realities of the suburbs or even the international scene.  The conclusion is straightforward: the Jewish community in France will face a new danger represented by this new population of Maghreb origin who, in concert with the extreme left, will trivialize Judeophobia and justify it through underhanded criticism of Israel and an "absolute anti-Zionism".  Above all others, Alain Finkielkraut excels in this genre: we knew the thinker who took part in great social debates but here the horizon is reduced and the philosopher has become a community intellectual.  His last book, In the Name of the Other, Reflections on coming Antisemitism, is presented as an attack without nuances on all sorts of antisemtism (anti-globalization, immigrants or media).  Alain Finkielkraut indulges in all excesses and is not troubled by supporting Sharon.  The debate is no longer based on unversal principles and even pretends to be linked to common European tradition, his positions taken reveal an communitarist who is falsifying the terminology of the debate in France like the subject of Palestine.  His denunciation of the "cult of the other" in reality, doesn't stop exacerbating the sentiment of "otherness" of the Jewish victim and the wall of shame becomes "a simple security barrier" that Israel constructed despite herself.  Jews or Zionists (those who make a difference are antisemites) can never be victims or oppressors like others . . .
"The recent war in Iraq has acted as a catalyst.  Intellectuals as different as Bernard Kouchner, André Glucksman or Bernard-Henri Levy, who took courageous positions in Bosnia, Rwanda or in Chechnya have curiously supported the Americano-British intervention in Iraq.  One can ask why so many justifications appear unfounded: eliminate a dictator (why not before?),  for the democratisation of the country (why not in Saudi Arabia?) etc.  The United States have certainly acted in the name of its own interests  but we know that Israel supported the intervention and that its military advisers were working with the troops as indicated by British journalists who participated in the operations (The Independent, 6/6/03).  We also know that the architect of the operation in the Bush administration is Paul Wolfowitz, a notorious Zionist who has never hidden that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein would guaranty better security for Israel with assured economic advantages.  In his book, West against West, André Glucksman gives us  a coleric argument for the war, written under a very revealing silence on Israel's interests.  Bernard-Henri Levy, selective defender of great causes, hardly ever criticises Israel to whom he never stops proclaiming his "solidarity as a Jew and as a Frenchman."  His last campaign against Pakistan appeared as taken from nowhere, almost anachronistic.  By interesting himself with the abominable and inexcusable murder of Daniel Pearl, he seizes the chance to stigmatise Pakistan whose enemy, India should naturally become our friend . . . Levy is certainly not Sharon's guru but his analysis reveals a curious similarity regarding the timing of his statement and its startegic goals: Sharon has just returned from a historic visit to India to reinforce economic and military cooperation between the two countries . . .
"If we demand from intellectuals and other Arabs and Moslems that they condemn, in the name of the law and universal, commonly held values, terrorism, violence, antisemitism and the dictatorial Moslem states from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan, shouldn't we at least expect from Jewish intellectual that they denounce, in a clear manner the repressive policies of the state of Israel, its alliances and other doubtful methods and that they are in the first rank in the fight against the discrimination that their Moslem co-citizens are subjected to. We note with respect of those Jews (not necessarily anti-globalizationists or of the extreme left) who have decided to  rebel against all injustice and notably those injustices committed by Jews.  Together with Arabs and Moslems of the same sort, they are the light and the hope for the future because that future has never needed this prerequisite and this courage before . . .     
Tariq Ramadan

I asked if Ed Jajko has any comment on the Tariq Ramadan case. "Ramadan" means the hot month, surely an odd family name. Ed replies: "No comment on the case.  Ramadan was originally the hot or parched month, but since the Muslim calendar was made lunar and rotates around the solar year, Ramadan can be in the heat of summer or the chill of winter.  This year's Ramadan begins on or about 16 October.  It's no more unusual a family name than March, May, or August in English or German*.  But Mr. Ramadan is of Egyptian origin, and so Ramadan may be his family name only because of European, not Egyptian, practice.  There are Egyptians who bear family names -- Boutros Boutros-Ghali and his brothers and other relatives, for example -- but most Egyptians have three names: given name, father's name, grandfather's name.  With each new generation, a new name is tacked on in front and the father's name takes the place of the grandfather's.  Ramadan is an acceptable given name for a Muslim boy.  Not a common one, but quite acceptable.  Once Ramadan has a son, whom he names Tariq, the son becomes Tariq Ramadan.  In Egypt and the Arab world he is known as Tariq or Mr. Tariq.  Europe and the Western world require him to become Mr. Ramadan.  (The name of the grandfather, Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been omitted.)  I find it interesting that he bears the name of Tariq ibn Ziyad, the Berber who defeated Visigoth Spain in 711, who gave his name also to Jabal Tariq, the Mountain of Tariq, i.e. Gibraltar.  Ramadan seeks to create a new European Muslim identity.  Tariq ibn Ziyad had much the same mission".

RH:* The only names of months commonly used as family names in English are March and May. Similarly only a few colors are used as last names: White, Black, Grey, Green, but not pink, purple, etc.  These selectivities should be studied. When I said how pleased I was that Randy Black had met Jaqui White, Philip Huyck remarked "Black and White".  Red (read) all over?  There is no WAISer named "Red".  That Tariq ibn Zayad was a Berber lures us into the complex racial and religious history of Muslim Spain.  We should also examine the history of Ramadan.  It made sense during the hot month to extend the siesta to embrace the day and to live it up at night, but to move Ramadan to suit the lunar calendar makes no sense.

From France, Christopher Jones gives us the background of Tariq Ramadan, the Islamic scholar whom the University of Notre Dame invited to join its faculty. The US refused him a visa, a decision the university is protesting: "Prof. Ramadan (b.1962) isn't just an "Islamic scholar," he is a media star in French speaking Europe.  Tariq Ramadan does have family ties to the grand daddy of radical Islamic movements, The Muslim Brotherhood, because his father was founder Hassan al Banna's in-law.  However Ramadan defends a "European" Moslem identity, rather modern and including in other languages.  His book, To be a European Moslem is available in German, French and English editions.  However, both Le Monde and Libération have refused to publish his articles under the charge of antisemitism.  Ramadan denounces the cabal of leftist Jewish intellectuals like André Glucksman, Bernard Henri Levy and Pierre-André Taguieff.  These have fingered Islam for a new wave of "Judeophobia" while conveniently ignoring the present policies of the state of Israel.  In particular Alain Finkielkraut openely admires Ariel Sharon.  The US refusal to grant Tariq Ramadan a visa is yet another manifestation of the hijacking of the US by Jewish supremacists".
Tariq Ramadan est accusé d'antisémitisme après une tribune sur les « intellectuels communautaires »
Article publié le 11 Octobre 2003
Par Caroline Monnot et Xavier Ternisien
Taille de l'article :817 mots

Extrait : Bernard-Henri Lévy somme les altermondialistes de prendre leurs distances avec le militant musulman, qui participe à la préparation du Forum social européen de novembre . TARIQ RAMADAN serait-il antisémite ? La question est posée clairement par André Glucksmann dans Le Nouvel Observateur daté 9 octobre) et par Bernard-Henri Lévy qui, dans son bloc-notes du Point daté 10 octobre, écrit : « Cet intellectuel habile, formé à l'école des Frères musulmans, (...) avait toujours su, jusqu'ici, dans son expression exotérique et publique, offrir une façade lisse, convenable.

RH: Although I was originally a professor of French, I share Christopher's criticism of French "philosophers", whose prestige is, like that of cooking and wine, due to the label "French" Two days ago I heard Bernard Henri Levy give an address in "English". It was a heady but poor intellectual vintage.