Tariq Ramadan, the revocation of his visa barring his way to a professorship at Notre Dame, throws down the gauntlet to his critics in the International Herald Tribune:
I remain in Switzerland, hoping this mistake will be rectified and reflecting on how I am constantly being told the “truth” about who I am: “You are a controversial figure.” “You engage in double talk, delivering a gentle message in French and English and a radical, even extremist one in Arabic or to Muslim audiences in private.” “You have links with extremists.” “You are an anti-Semite.” “You despise women.” And so on.
When I ask about the source of this information, invariably the response is: This is well-known; check the Internet and you will find thousands of pages referencing it.
A closer examination reveals journalists and intellectuals quoting each other, infinitely repeating what others have said. The response to this finding is: “Well, there has to be some truth in all that.” A strange truth indeed!
I have written 20 books and 700 articles, and 170 audiotapes of my lectures are circulating. I ask my detractors: Have you read or listened to any of this? Can you prove the “links” to terrorists? To repeat allegations is not to prove. Where is the evidence of my “double talk?” Have you read the articles in which I call upon fellow Muslims to condemn unequivocally radical views and acts of extremism?
What about my statements on Sept. 12, 2001, calling on Muslims to condemn loudly the terrorist attacks and to acknowledge that some Muslims betray the Islamic message? What about the articles in which I condemn anti-Semitism and criticize Muslims who do not differentiate between the political dimensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the unacceptable temptation to reject Jews because they are Jews?
Are you familiar with my writings promoting women’s rights and an Islamic feminism, and rejecting every kind of mistreatment and discrimination?
Finally, are you acquainted with my extensive study of the Islamic scriptural sources and efforts to promote a new understanding, a way for Muslims to remain faithful to their principles and, at the same time, face the challenges of the contemporary world?
Daniel Pipes is up to the challenge:
But on July 28, just nine days before the Ramadans were to leave for America, Mr. Ramadan was informed that the Department of Homeland Security had revoked his work visa. A DHS spokesman, Russ Knocke, later explained this had been done in accord with a law that denies entry to aliens who have used a “position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity.” The revocation, Mr. Knocke added, was based on “public safety or national security interests.”
Of course, Mr. Ramadan dismisses the revocation as “unjustified” and due to “political pressure.” He even blames me for the DHS decision.
What’s up? The DHS knows much more than I do, but it is not talking. A review of the press, however, gives an idea of what the problem is. Here are some reasons why Mr. Ramadan might have been kept out:
“¢ He has praised the brutal Islamist policies of the Sudanese politician Hassan Al-Turabi. Mr. Turabi in turn called Mr. Ramadan the “future of Islam.”
“¢ Mr. Ramadan was banned from entering France in 1996 on suspicion of having links with an Algerian Islamist who had recently initiated a terrorist campaign in Paris.
“¢ Ahmed Brahim, an Algerian indicted for Al-Qaeda activities, had “routine contacts” with Mr. Ramadan, according to a Spanish judge (Baltasar GarzÃ³n) in 1999.
“¢ Djamel Beghal, leader of a group accused of planning to attack the American embassy in Paris, stated in his 2001 trial that he had studied with Mr. Ramadan.
“¢ Along with nearly all Islamists, Mr. Ramadan has denied that there is “any certain proof” that Bin Laden was behind 9/11.
“¢ He publicly refers to the Islamist atrocities of 9/11, Bali, and Madrid as “interventions,” minimizing them to the point of near-endorsement.
And here are other reasons, dug up by Jean-Charles Brisard, a former French intelligence officer doing work for some of the 9/11 families, as reported in Le Parisien:
“¢ Intelligence agencies suspect that Mr. Ramadan (along with his brother Hani) coordinated a meeting at the HÃ´tel Penta in Geneva for Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy head of Al-Qaeda, and Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh, now in a Minnesota prison.
“¢ Mr. Ramadan’s address appears in a register of Al Taqwa Bank, an organization the State Department accuses of supporting Islamist terrorism.
Then there is the intriguing possibility, reported by Olivier Guitta, that Osama bin Laden studied with Tariq’s father in Geneva, suggesting that the future terrorist and the future scholar might have known each other.
Ramadan denies all ties to terrorism, but the pattern is clear. As Lee Smith writes in The American Prospect, he is a cold-blooded Islamist whose “cry of death to the West is a quieter and gentler jihad, but it’s still jihad.”
And here is Tariq Ramadan’s reply to Pipes, in which he denies everything. As Pipes notes at his website, the only one not talking in all this is the Department of Homeland Security.