Is Tariq Ramadan Lying [about Magdi Allam]?
by Daniel Pipes
Translations of this item:
Tariq Ramadan accuses me of lying, a charge I take seriously. But, as so often is the case with Islamists and other totalitarians, the accuser himself stands accused.
Ramadan sat in the audience during my debate with Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, on January 20, 2007, and heard me call on Westerners to help build a moderate Islam. Addressing the mayor, I suggested (as can be read in the transcript, "Radical Islam vs. Civilization") that moderate Islam
Note two initial points here: (1) Ramadan does not say I was mistaken in identifying Allam as a Muslim, but that I "was lying." He thus implies I know Allam to be Christian but deceptively called him a Muslim. Strong words on Ramadan's part. (2) Strange words, actually, given that I did not, either in the above excerpt or anywhere else in my London talk, identify Allam as a Muslim, only as a one of several "civilized allies." Ramadan gratuitously inserted me into an obscure argument over Allam's religious adherence.
Allam acknowledges thinking about conversion to Christianity on moving to Italy so as to fit in better, but he never took this step. He has no links to the Copts. The publisher's blurb for Vincere la paura sums up Allam's self-presentation: "Magdi Allam describes himself as a secular Muslim born and raised in Nasser's Egypt" ("Magdi Allam racconta se stesso, musulmano laico nato e cresciuto nell'Egitto di Nasser)."
Whence, then, Ramadan's calumny about Allam being a Copt? Because of bad blood between the two men, both Europeans of Egyptian origin. For example, Allam's autobiography includes an "Open Letter to Tariq Ramadan" ("Lettera aperta a Tariq Ramadan") that exposes Ramadan as an extremist and because Allam refused to appear with Ramadan, the latter was denied an award from the PEN American Center.
Ramadan has allies in this claim, such as the Unione delle Comunità ed Organizzazioni Islamiche in Italia ("Union of the Communities and Organizations Muslims in Italy") and one Miguel Martinez, a polemicist engaged in a sustained campaign to malign and discredit Allam.
At minimum, casting Allam as a Copt blunts his important anti-Islamist voice. Maximally, identifying him as an apostate from Islam endangers his life. It is no secret that Allam makes no move without his multiple, around-the-clock, state-supplied bodyguards by his side. Ramadan, to his permanent shame, is party to this endangerment of a brave and creative Muslim thinker.
So, to review: Magdi Allam was born a Muslim, grew up a Muslim, and identifies today as a Muslim. But Ramadan deems him a Christian. I called for standing by Allam. Ramadan says I "was lying."
Dear Reader: Who do you consider the liar here?
A hint: This is not Ramadan's first public entanglement with the truth. Two other cases include:
Mar. 5, 2007 update: For more on this subject, see "Tariq Ramadan, Magdi Allam, and Me - Updates."
Reader comments (105) on this item
Comment on this item
You can help support Daniel Pipes' work by making a tax-deductible donation to the Middle East Forum. Daniel J. Pipes