The master of the dance here dances masterfully. “On U.S. speaking tour, once-banned Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan shares his vision for the future: Ramadan speaks to the Chicago Tribune about his U.S. visit and asks American Muslims to be involved in American society and spread a better understanding,” by Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah in the Chicago Tribune, April 23 (thanks to James):
The Bush administration denied Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan a visa six years ago, forcing him to turn down a tenured position at the University of Notre Dame. Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit and fought successfully on his behalf. In January, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revoked a ban, allowing the Swiss-born Ramadan and another Muslim scholar to visit the U.S. On his first trip back, Ramadan, now a professor at Oxford University, gave a keynote address this month at a fundraising dinner for the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He also sat down with the Chicago Tribune.
Q: Why do you think you were banned from the United States?
A: I gave money to many organizations and two were blacklisted in the United States. (The Bush administration) said you gave the money so you should reasonably have known that these organizations were connected to Hamas, or allegedly connected to Hamas. The problem for (the Bush administration) was that they made a mistake because I gave the money between 1998 and 2002, before these organizations were blacklisted in the States, while they were never blacklisted in Europe where I lived. This was all a pretext for keeping me outside (the U.S.). It was an ideological exclusion. […]
Note what he does not say. He doesn’t say that he denounces Hamas, or that he didn’t know the organizations were linked to Hamas. He says that he gave before the organizations were put on the list — a narrow technicality that doesn’t address any of the really important issues here regarding Ramadan’s beliefs, loyalties, and allegiances.
Q: You’ve been criticized for double-speak, saying one thing to Muslim audiences and another to Western, non-Muslim audiences. Right-wing blogger Robert Spencer has called you a “stealth jihadist.” Are you a stealth jihadist?
A: No. They all know that. These are people who have a problem with the Muslim presence. They are scared our presence in the West is going to change Western policies to something which is more open, for example, toward Palestinian rights, more critical toward the unilateral support of the States toward Israel.
Note the descriptor “right-wing blogger,” which is simultaneously intended to impugn and diminish, setting up red flags for right-thinking liberal Trib readers. What is “right-wing” about standing up for the freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and legal equality of all people? And while I am indeed a “blogger,” I guess, even if I never write about my new lawnmower or the way I like my coffee, it is the one way to describe me that gives Trib readers no hint that I have written bestselling books, advised the FBI and Centcom, etc. This is nothing personal — the point here is not that the Trib should have printed my resume or said nice things about me. The point is that this is just another example of the all-pervasive journalistic bias regarding reporting on the jihad: anyone who doesn’t fit into the prevailing ideological straitjacket is demeaned and impugned.
And note also that the question that Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah asks is monumentally silly. If Tariq Ramadan really is a stealth jihadist, does Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah really expect him to say, “Why, yes, of course I’m a stealth jihadist”? The question itself is a setup for Ramadan to shoot down the idea, but he still manages to keep the waters muddy instead of clarifying anything, by saying that people like me oppose him because he is anti-Israel. So in other words, he is not a stealth jihadist, he just supports the jihad against Israel — which he, an informed and intelligent Muslim, surely knows is indeed a jihad, and not simply a political conflict over land. So in denying he is a stealth jihadist, Ramadan essentially affirms that he is a stealth jihadist.
Q: Your critics point to your grandfather, Hassan al Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood, a political Muslim group in Egypt that has been violent at times. They draw links between your own beliefs and that of the Brotherhood. Do you belong to the Muslim Brotherhood?
A: I don’t belong to the Muslim Brotherhood. (A few days ago) someone asked me to condemn my grandfather. I said, “Look. I’m not from the Muslim Brotherhood. He was living in the ’30s and the ’40s. He was against British colonization. He built schools. He was promoting a vision. There are things with which I agree, and others, that put into context, I may disagree. But I’m not condemning him. He never killed someone.”
Note that while he says that he does agree with some aspects of the Brotherhood program, he only “may” disagree with other aspects. Again, he is sidestepping the essential question: does Tariq Ramadan wish to extend the hegemony of Sharia to the West, even by non-violent means?