Middle East studies in the News
Mole or savior?
by Arnaud de Borchgrave
Tariq Ramadan is radioactive. Speak to any Christian in the Arab world, and "roadkill" is the nicest thing you'll hear about him. For the left -- especially the far left -- the grandson of the founder of the incendiary Muslim Brotherhood, the most important Islamist movement of the 20th century, is just in from a little stroll on the Sea of Galilee.
For France's influential Jewish intellectuals -- Bernard-Henri Levy, Andre Glucksmann, Bernard Kouchner -- Ramadan is a dangerously skillful anti-Semite.
Mr. Ramadan was scheduled to begin teaching Islam, conflict resolution and peace building, at Indiana's Notre Dame University this month. It was to be a tenured post. But his visa was rescinded by the Department of Homeland Security.
In a televised debate with France's then Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy late last year, Mr. Ramadan declined to condemn "lapidation" -- the stoning of adulterous wives as mandated by a strict interpretation of the Koran. Instead, Mr. Ramadan said he favored a "moratorium" in the practice.
A multimillionaire from the sale of countless thousands of cassettes of his mesmerizing sermons, Mr. Ramadan is lionized by the jobless, North African slum-dwellers that cling barnaclelike to France's major cities. The neo-Marxist, anti-globalization left has also hitched its bandwagon to his star-status in French-speaking Europe.
Swiss-born, this handsome 42-year-old is a resident of Geneva, which the U.N.'s European headquarters has made the smallest international city in the world. Banned in France by one interior minister as a dangerous provocateur, he was reinstated by the next interior minister. Mr. Ramadan's apocalyptic, nihilistic vision appears to some as a scene-setter for the center-stage appearance of Osama bin Laden Superstar.
The author of a dozen books, Mr. Ramadan lets fly staccato-style, at the speed of an AK-47 on full automatic, quotations from Nietzsche, Heidegger and the Koran, to prove a central point: Decadent Europe will give way to an Islamized Europe.
The 21st century, he says, will see a second role reversal between Islam and the West: "The West will begin its new decline, and the Arab-Islamic world its renewal" and ascent to seven centuries of world domination after seven centuries of decline.
The fully European Islam, he predicts, presupposes a violent upheaval against the Western values Mr. Ramadan rejects. But he quickly cushions the supposition with hosannas to democracy and free expression. He is a past master of dissimulation and disinformation.
"To Be a European Muslim," published in 1999, was translated into 14 languages. The European Parliament consults him as an expert voice of reason in a cacophony of extremist epithets. Criticism of this Islamist intellectual troubadour is quickly rejected as Islamophobia. Mr. Ramadan speaks the language of Europe's intellectual left. A frequent lecturer in U.S. universities, his brilliantly articulate perorations mesmerize his liberal fans. "Only Islam can achieve the synthesis between Christianity and humanism, and fill the spiritual void that afflicts the West." All good people are implicitly Muslims, he maintains, "because true humanism is founded in Koranic revelations."
"Today the Muslims who live in the West must unite themselves to the revolution of the anti-establishment groups from the moment when the neoliberal capitalist system becomes, for Islam, a theater of war," is another thunderclap that says "jihad" to his detractors and sweet reasonableness to his fans.
Marxism failed because it slavishly followed the dictates of a bunch of aging klutzes in Moscow, according to the Ramadan school. Islam, he says, can now bring forth a body of values that would form the embodiment of this universal vocation.
This, in turn, would replace the values of Western civilization. Islam-centric thinking thus replaces Eurocentric rearview mirror nostalgia for what was once a great civilization. Muslim identity is the only true source of universality, proclaims Tariq Ramadan. "It will fill the spiritual void that afflicts the West." Music to some, but a hidden Islamist agenda to DHS. Some would say, not so well hidden.
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