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A very peculiar perspective on Ramadan

Reader comment on item: Why Revoke Tariq Ramadan's U.S. Visa?

Submitted by Sean McIntyre (United States), Jul 22, 2005 at 17:10

I had the pleasure of seeing Tariq Ramadan in action recently in a public debate in Berlin and I would characterize him as a bold proponent of a liberal, open-minded and progressive Islam.

Given Ramadan's many outspoken writings against fundamentalism and Islamo-fascism and his passionate pleas for a modern, liberal Islam.
I urge you to do your own google and library searches on Mr. Ramadan and read what he has written. I was very, very impressed by his firm defense of liberal, open societies and the need to confront the extremist ideology of Islamism in this public debate in Berlin. Moreover, as can be expected of a debate in a theater milieu in Germany, the audience was quite hostile toward him. The majority of the audience vigorously rejected his claim that Islamic extremism is NOT the result of European society failing to live up to its' own liberal-democratic ideals. He argued firmly against this 'social' explanation for extremism and fanaticism and reminded the audience that Islamism is a POLITICAL ideology that often finds a warm reception among relatively privileged, assimilated Arabs of the middle class and up (like members of his own family nearly a century ago). Moreover, he argued that the social explanation also fails to see that Islamist extremists are not at all interested in Europeans living up to their own liberal-democratic norms and ideals, but is instead a fully rationalized and emphatic REJECTION of those very ideals. This is something the audience refused to believe, of course. Many persisted with the usual (and understandable) habit of self-critique: 'it is our fault because these young men experience racism and lack of opportunities... because our societies are alienated...etc. etc.'

In short, my experience of Tariq Ramadan was of a heroic defender of liberal-democracy and a much-needed analyst and debater against naive, Left-oriented understandings of and excuses for political Islam. If anything his pedigree should not count AGAINST him, as Mr. Pipes presents it, but should count to his credit: he KNOWS quite intimately how seriously we must take this ideology; he knows with what ideas we are dealing with and how best to argue against this ideology of hate and death.

For my part I would love to see Professor Ramadan teaching in the U.S. and contributing to our public discourse on terrorism and the dangers of political Islam. I think he has many valuable insights to contribute to this fight and will be an eloquent and significant contributor to our public dialogue. He could be, for N. America, what he already is for this dialogue in Europe: a rare and eloquent Islamic defender of the principles, norms and ideals of liberal democracy against the ideology of political Islam (an ideology that finds its origins in part in Ramadan's own family, as Pipes noted). Mr. Ramadan is doing exactly what the columnist Thomas Friedman called for in his NY Times opinion piece today (7/22/05): telling the truth about Islamo-fascism.

Sean McIntyre
Submitting....

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