Middle East studies in the News
Tariq Ramadan Raps 'Colonial Mindset' Toward Muslims
by Daily Star staff
BEIRUT: Egyptian-Swiss Muslim scholar and Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan argued during a lecture at the American University of Beirut (AUB) that US relations with the Muslim world will only improve if the United States becomes more honest in its dealings with Muslim-majority nations, a university statement said on Thursday.
The United States should not claim to be pushing for democracy when it bans all democratically elected groups who are critical of it, he noted.
Ramadan, who was speaking before a large audience at AUB said that the United States deals with Muslim-majority nations with the attitude of, "You are bad if you are against me. You are good if you are with me."
He added that "this is a colonial mindset."
Ramadan was hosted by the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saoud Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR) for a lecture on Wednesday in West Hall's Bathish Auditorium. His lecture was titled: "The US, Islam and the Relationship with Muslim-Majority Countries."
AUB professor Sari Hanafi introduced Ramadan as "one of the most influential voices among Muslim scholars in Western society," who is known for his thought-provoking debates.
Ramadan argued that although the United States claims it wants to promote Muslim moderates, "it has no problem with traditional Salafists, even though they believe that elections are anti-Islam ... So who are the Muslim moderates?" he asked.
"It's not your attitude toward Islam that makes you a moderate, but your views of US policy," he noted. "You can be a traditional Saudi Salafi Muslim who is not critical of the United States, yet you will be considered moderate."
On the other hand, all democratic Muslim political groups are critical of the United States, and that's what earns them the label of radical, Ramadan added.
"Such discourse is very damaging and reflects a stance that is only concerned with protecting geopolitical interests that include Israel," he said.
But Ramadan said that it is not possible to cancel groups who have a popular support base and are part of the country's political and social fabric. "Take Hizbullah, for instance, whether you agree with them or not, they are here, and have people who support them. You cannot call them terrorists. You have to talk with them. And talking doesn't mean you agree with their views, it only means that you recognize the complex dynamics of society. And this is real democracy," he said.
Although Ramadan criticized US policies toward the Muslim world, he also did not mince his words with respect to Arab regimes, saying that the Arab world should take responsibility for the "dictators, corruption, and lack of democracy" that exists.
"Within Muslim-majority countries we have to fight corruption, promote transparency and trust in civil society," he said.
"We cannot blame the Americans for fighting the resistance here in the Middle East, when the Saudis issued a fatwa saying that the Shiites are not real Muslims and should not be supported," he said. "We should also not be silent on why the people of Afghanistan were punished for September 11, although they did not choose to be under the Taliban and had in fact suffered under them."
Ramadan also warned that religious groups, such as the Taliban, who are naive in politics, were used by savvy political groups such as Osama bin Laden, whom he said he had criticized and warned about in the 1990s.
"When you are naive in politics and sincere in religion it's very dangerous," he said, adding: "The legitimate Islamic political groups are the second victims of radical, marginal groups such as the bin-Laden-led Al-Qaeda. The first victims are those who are killed."
Ramadan is professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford's Faculty of Theology and senior research fellow at St. Antony's College (Oxford), Dohisha University (Kyoto, Japan) and at the Lokahi Foundation (London). He is also visiting professor (holding the chair: Identity and Citizenship) at Erasmus University in The Netherlands. Through his writings and lectures, he has contributed substantially to the debate on the issues of Muslims in the West and Islamic revival in the Muslim world. He is active in both the academic and grassroots levels lecturing extensively throughout the world on social justice and dialogue between civilizations. Professor Ramadan is also president of the think tank European Muslim Network (EMN) in Brussels. His latest book is "Radical Reform, Islamic Ethics and Liberation."
He is also the grandson of Hassan al-Banna who was an Egyptian social and political reformer, best known for founding the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the largest and most influential 20th century Muslim revivalist organizations.
Banna was a critic of colonialism, and promoted social equality.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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