Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tariq Ramadan on the Defensive

Tariq RamadanTariq Ramadan has been featured frequently in this space. He is one of the most dangerous Muslims in the West, because he is so suave and sophisticated and reasonable and “moderate”. So civilized, so calm, such a breath of fresh air compared to the frothing-at-the-mouth “kill the infidel apes and pigs” imams featured on the YouTube videos and in Fitna!

Yet, despite his reasonable manner, he is an agent of the Great Jihad and one of the more skilled practitioners of taqiyya in the West.

He was recently debated by a Dutch politician, and came off so badly that he felt it necessary to publish an additional rebuttal. Our Flemish correspondent VH has written a report on the affair, beginning with his translation of an article in Elsevier:

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan: Bolkestein is dangerous, ignorant

After a debate with Frits Bolkestein, in which the prominent VVD member [and former parliamentarian and front man] came out fiercely against his opponent Tariq Ramadan, the Islamic scholar now launches his counter-attack: Bolkestein is dangerous and ignorant.

Ramadan writes this in an opinion piece in De Volkskrant.

The debate (video), which took place on September 11, apparently still haunts Ramadan so much that he wants to come back to it.

Personal attacks

According to the Islamic scholar and philosopher, Bolkestein initiated a series of personal attacks, in which the VVDer accused him of having too much of a tendency towards radical Islam.

“During the debate, I have countered his attacks one by one. After some hesitation Bolkestein admitted not having read even one of my 22 books, while those are the ones that cover the topics of his critique. For a political and academic debate, this is not quite the proper practice,” Ramadan writes.


He accuses Bolkestein, whose critical speech was published last week in De Volkskrant, also of an unjustified attack against him about his position on women in Islam.

“I’ve said that it is in conflict with Islam to force a woman to wear a headscarf, just as I think it is in contradiction with human rights to force her to take it off. I’ve fought for those women who do not want to wear head scarves to be free in this, both in the West and the East.”

[Note from VH: He writes: “During the debate, I have answered his attacks point by point. After some hesitation Bolkestein admitted not o have read any of my 22 books, while exactly in those I appointed the topics that concerned his critics. For a political and academic debate, this is not a proper way of practice: Bolkestein has been surfing on the net, has read one book in which I am criticized (and that contains more than 200 factual errors) and has not verified any quote.”

“Bolkestein is very little informed about my views on women: I said that it is contrary to Islam to force a woman to wear a headscarf, just as I think it is in contradiction with human rights to force her to take it off. I’ve fought for it to ensure that women who do not want to wear head scarves there are free to do so, both in the West and the East.”

“In my book Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, I encourage the emergence of an “Islamic feminism”, that has to free women from literal readings and discriminatory use from some cultures. I said that the situation of women in Iran in the last twenty years has improved more than the situation of women throughout the Arab world (which is a fact, at least concerning their political representation). I’ve never defended “the Iranian woman” as a model. These are false allegations.”]
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Clash of civilizations

Furthermore Bolkestein called Ramadan, who earlier this year was offered a chair at the University of Leiden but later renounced it [after it came out that it was funded by the Sultan of Oman], a supporter of the “clash of civilizations”.

“That is also not true,” says Ramadan. “If he had read my books, he could have known that my argument is exactly the opposite and I call everyone for a dialogue, based on a reasonable and demanding rationality. It is funny to read [in Bolkestein’s speech] that I would ‘hate’ reason, and that while I graduated at the University of Geneva and received a doctorate in philosophy,” Ramadan, a Swiss Muslim, writes in his piece in De Volkskrant.

The “rhetoric and political game of Bolkestein” he finds dangerous for “the future of all Dutch citizens, not only for Muslim citizens.”

A translation by VH of the text of the speech by Frits Bolkestein on September 11, preceding the debate with Tariq Ramadan in De Nieuwe Horizon in Rotterdam, the Netherlands:

The ideal World of Tariq Ramadan

Frits Bolkestein

The globalized Islam that Tariq Ramadan sees on the horizon would hopefully fill every Dutchman, even if he is Muslim, with reluctance.

It was seven years ago today that 3000 innocent citizens of New York were victims of a terrorist attack. Many of them burned alive. The perpetrators of the attack were all Muslim.

Why did they do this? They were followed by others in London, Bali and Madrid. It would be foolish to say that all Muslims are terrorists. But most terrorists today are Muslim. Why is that so? About that question there have been many debates. To find the answer, we must go back in history.

Christianity began as a religion of the proletariat. It took a few centuries until it became the state religion of the Roman Empire. Islam began as a religion of conquerors.

Within a few decades after its founding, it ruled a huge part of the world, from Cordoba in the West to Isfahan in the East. The first two caliphates put everything Europe had to offer in the shade. The world of Islam was rich and powerful.

Today, this is not true anymore. Although some Muslim countries are swimming in petrodollars, the region is underdeveloped. Most governments are dictatorships. My opponent tonight, Tariq Ramadan, is denied access to Egypt — where his family comes from — and Saudi Arabia. Compared with many countries in Asia, the Islamic world is in decline, while it once served progress. Following the death of Averroes in 1196, no more intellectual accomplishments has been forthcoming.

What happened?

It seems to me that there are two schools of thought in the Muslim world. According to one, the cause of the decay is that governments no longer follow the correct teachings of pure Islam. Hence the critical attitude of Osama bin Laden against the Saudi regime.

The other direction looks for an explanation in the West. Some see it in colonialism. This is obvious nonsense, since Turkey was the main colonizing power in the Middle East. The West came later. Then there are those who think that the West has deprived the Muslim societies of what was righteously theirs, which led to resentment.

Now, resentment is a powerful factor in politics. According to some historians resentment was an important element in the minds of the National Socialists, and I think that this presents a plausible reason for Muslim terrorism, from Mohammed Atta on September 11 to Mohammed B., the murderer of Theo van Gogh.


Personally, I have a different analysis of the Islamic decline. I think it’s a lot to do with the termination of ijtihad, the permission for religious scholars to publicly debate theological issues, after which the audience could vote on it. ijtihad, was prohibited when it was still very premature. Where debate is not allowed, rigidity arises. The Muslims were dogmatic and this rigidity spread to other parts of society.

Remember that Islam is a comprehensive religion. Atatürk said something similar when he ascribed the decay of the Ottoman empire to the mixing of politics and religion, which had paralyzed the Muslim world.

Now I want to dwell on a few things of which I like to perceive the clear view of Tariq Ramadan. He himself has said (Tariq Ramadan cassette: “Le renouveau Islamique”, QA 23 Tawhid, in: Caroline Fourest: Brother Tariq p. 228): “You must learn to tune the way you speak to the ear that listens to you.” In other words, if you speak to an Islamic audience you can be sharp against the West; for a Western audience you need to soften your tone.

This has earned Ramadan the accusation that he is talking with two tongues. I hope he brings these allegations to silence by giving us the full benefit of his bold opinions, without ifs and buts.


Ramadan is fighting for the right of French girls to wear headscarves at school. But is he also fighting for the right not to not wear the headscarf? No, because the wearing of the headscarf is an obligation, although no one can be forced to it (Tariq Ramadan cassette: “La femme musulmane. Réalités et Espoir”, 1, QA 19, Tawhid, in Caroline Fourest: Brother Tariq p. 141). “The headscarf is an act of faith.” But that is exactly what is happening in the outskirts of Paris, where girls who do not wear headscarves are facing violence. Hence the movement Ni putes ni soumises (“Neither Whores nor Slaves”). Does Ramadan supports this movement?

Women must not attract attention by their appearance, says Ramadan (Tariq Ramadan, “L’homme musulman anjourd’hui” in Caroline Fourest: Brother Tariq p. 163). “If you walk down the street, you must keep your eyes tightly focused on the pavement.” A woman must obey her husband, as long as he obeys God ( Caroline Fourest: Brother Tariq p. 140). She may work but not in every job. Women must behave in accordance with their natural tendency. Is this not a rather patriarchal vision of society? Does Ramadan really think so?

And then there was the famous debate with Sarkozy on French television, in which Ramadan refused to unconditionally condemn stoning of adulterous women, but asked for a suspension instead. Why? An absolute conviction would have been able to support Muslim reformers. Must Muslims in Europe still debate about the stoning of adulterous women? That would surprise me. There is one country that meets with Ramadan’s approval and that is Iran: “Iran is without doubt one of the Muslim countries over the past twenty years that has done the most to promote women’s rights.” (Tariq Ramadan, “Peut-on vivre avec l “Islam, p.126 in Caroline Fourest: Brother Tariq p. 152). I doubt it.

Integration Debate

In the Dutch integration debate three issues hit an open nerve: the Holocaust, homosexuality and apostasy.

In the autumn of 2005, Ramadan joined an English group, Preventing Extremism Together. It was not long after the terrorist attacks in London on July 7 and 21. The first proposal of this working group was to abolish the Holocaust commemorations because it was “offensive to Muslims”. I do not understand this. Why should the commemoration of the genocide of 6 million innocent Jews — including more than 100,000 from the Netherlands — be offensive to Muslims? (Toby Helm in the Daily Telegraph, 12 September 2005) Ramadan should realize that such a view is extremely offensive to many Dutch men and women.

Something similar applies to homosexuals. “The ban is clear: homosexuality is not something that Islam permits”, Ramadan says. And homosexual behavior is “a sign of disease, disorder and imbalance.” (Tariq Ramadan: “La conception de la Islamique SEXUALITÉ ‘and’ Peut-on vivre avec l ‘Islam’, p.152; in Fourest, p. 158, 159). What should homosexuals in Muslim societies think of this? Or is Ramadan going to tell us that they don’t exist there?

Then apostasy. Freedom of religion is the basis of the Netherlands. Over the right to change Catholicism for Protestantism, the Dutch revolted against their Spanish rulers in the 16th century.


Now Islam recommends death for a Muslim who leaves his religion or changes to another. Nasr Abu Zaid was forced to divorce his wife. His views were not accepted by the theologians of the Al-Azhar university in Cairo. This made him an apostate who could not remain married to a Muslim woman. He now teaches in Leiden. What does Ramadan think about this? He writes: “Change your soul and your conscience, but do not insult those you leave behind and cause them no harm. “(Le Monde des Débats, January 2, 2002; in Fourest, p.124).

What does that mean? That you are not allowed to talk about your conscience?

There are different views about the globalization. I see it as a positive force. Ramadan does not. He thinks the economy has become “a global form of colonialism”. And he links economic imperialism with the spread of human rights. He says: “Human rights are the pretext for an economic policy that can not be presented as such.” (Tariq Ramadan: “Reports Nord Sud”, Fourest, p. 207). The world needs an alternative economic model, and Ramadan sees that in Sudan.

It seems to me that Ramadan wants economic self-sufficiency. That is no recipe for development though, look at Burma and North Korea. On the other hand, China and India benefit from globalization. Did Ramadan change his mind due to their emergence?


Finally, I would like to raise the issue of reason. Ramadan finds the rationalism of a critical spirit awful. He thinks that is typical Western extremism. That kind of reason ends with the permissiveness that is characteristic of the moral decay of the West, he says (Claudie Lesselier en Fiammetta Venner (ed.): ‘L’extreme droite et les femmes’, in: Claudic Lesselier: ‘De la vierge Marie à Jeanne d’Arc’ (Villeurbanne, Golies, 1997), in Fourest, p. 136). Faith is a veiled treasure till the day reason breaks the seal and cures our sick hearts.

For Ramadan, reason is equal to faith. Therefore he issues a blatant attack on the “liberal [the real liberalism] reformism” that is based on reason and that is progressive. Liberal reform symbolizes for him the submission to the Western colonialist, while the salafistic reform will re-establish a Muslim world that is strong and wins (Tariq Ramadan: ‘Les musulmans d’ Occident et l’ avenir de l’ Islam’, pp. 55, 56, 397, in Fourest p. 136).

Just like Huntington, Ramadan thinks that there will be confrontations in the future will between civilizations. One of his books is called The Confrontation of Civilizations. What he is proposing is the globalization of Islam. What does that Globalized Islam look like?

That world discriminates against women, who are only allowed to work in feminine occupations and must obey their husbands. Homosexuality is suppressed or punished. Mixed marriages are prohibited. Jews are pariahs. Literature is read selectively, and the community is involved in the selection procedure (Tariq Ramadan: “Pour une culture Islamique all native, in Fourest, p. 172). There is a fight against feminism, secularism and integration. The concept of “contributions” is being replaced by “integration”. Muslims have to play an active role in society “in all areas where they can accomplish more for Islam.” (Tariq Ramadan cassette: ‘Islam et Laicité’, QA 18, Tawhid; in Fourest, p. 186). This way they become “the ethical majority.”

This is promoted by the Muslim Brotherhood. Not surprisingly, since Ramadan’s grandfather began this movement, and his father, uncle and brother have played an important role in it.

The least that can be said about this possible future is that it would be revolting for the average Dutchman as — I hope — it is for many Muslims in the Netherlands.

Additional material by VH:

Frits Bolkestein is a conservative intellectual, a (now retired) politician, a former front man (1990-1998) for the VVD (Peoples Party for Freedom and Democracy), and a European Commissioner (Internal Market).

As a VVD front man in parliament (1990-1998), Bolkestein was one of the very few politicians who dared to criticize immigration policy*, and was heavily criticized for that. Only after his party (the VVD) formed a second government with the PVDA (Socialists) and D66 (Democrats) did the attacks recede a little.

The biggest mistake he made, according to many, was leaving the Lower House in 1998 for an EU job after the second cabinet with the Socialists was formed. The immigration debate went immediately back into the closet, and his electorate, many of them suffering ever more from the increasing inflow of immigrants and asylum seekers (in the 90’s op to 50,000 asylum seekers a year) lost their sole voice in politics.

Still, Frits Bolkestein has earned his reputation and is well respected for his criticism of immigration policy (or non-policy as he always called it) and his intellectual and politically incorrect views on this matter.

The eloquent Pim Fortuyn in 2001 was the first to put the immigration issue back on the table, but was assassinated for being too good at it and a threat to the status quo. The only immigration critic in politics these days is Geert Wilders (and the PVV members of Parliament), who left the government coalition with the Socialists and the ever more left-leaning VVD, to found the PVV.

*The other immigration critic those days in parliament was Hans Janmaat, member of the Center Party (CP ‘86), later Center Democrats and condemned in 1994 for saying about the Netherlands: “Full is Full”, and in 1997 for saying “We will dissolve the multicultural society, once we have the power and ability to do so”.

He was not only the first politician ever to be confronted with a cordon sanitaire (from 1982 on), but was also ostracized by the media and often even physically attacked (his secretary lost one of her legs due to an assault** against a party meeting in a hotel in Kedichem) by the leftist “anti-fascist” terror group around Wijnand Duyvendak (later a politician for the Green Left, who last month had to leave parliament after his extreme Leftist criminal past came to light).

**When the bombed and arsoned hotel had to be demolished due to the damage, the owner of the hotel got killed. None of the anti-fascist terrorists was ever charged over the assault that made crippled one victim for life, nor the indirect involvement with the death of the owner of the hotel.


Czechmade said...

Oh yes, now we are obliged to read 22 books of Mr Ramadan, to have a fruitful discussion with him - who is no official authority and is working in his islam marketing branch.

Reading that all - a sort of modern slavery.

Henrik R Clausen said...

I had the interesting experience of meeting Mr. Ramadan at a lecture, where I presented him with a copy of Al-Tabari.

Mr. Ramadan immediately exclaimed: "That is a very problematic book" and went on to explain how he had published a book of excuses for the behaviour of Muhammad (paraphrasing here).

Al-Tabari, in particular volumes 6 through 9, is highly recommended reading for anyone dealing with Islam. The books give the naked truth, as related by Islamic historians.

thll said...

I listened to the debate. Ramadan is arguing (convoluting) from the point of view of Islam. I don't see that he can be criticised for that - he's merely doing what he believes is right. But I don't see the point in arguing with him - should a horse argue with a cow? We complain that Ramadan exploits our weakness yet we do nothing but protest and shout 'foul'. Instead of complaining impotently we should exploit his weaknesses and those of his co-religionists.

Instead(liberal) twits like Bolkestein attempt to engage in rational debate as a means of solution - where's the sense? Islam is not rational, it's irrational, anti-rational even. The search for common ground is appeasement. There is no common ground; we exist in different worlds and until we accept this Islam will continue to run rings round us.

Henrik R Clausen said...

But I don't see the point in arguing with him - should a horse argue with a cow?

Yes, I think so. Not to convince the cow - that's pretty nigh impossible - but to show that the cow is not credible, not worth listening to, not worth praising.

Tariq Ramadan, when in Copenhagen, got asked some fairly sharp questions. He had a rather annoying strategy to deal with those:

The worse the questions, the more time he'd waste pretending he had something relevant to say, coming the very next minute. The time he spent increased with the toughness of the question, ending at a grand finale of 20 minutes of empty blah-blah pretending to answer a single question.

We need to discredit Brother Tariq so it will eventually be to embrassing to use him as an advisor, or anything at all, for that matter.

thll said...

Henrick R C - I take your point. But in whose eyes will he be an embarrassment? Not Muslims that's for sure. And not dhimmi Europeans who'll rub their hands and be impressed at the 'wonderful intellect of this great Islamic mind' - that's how *their* minds work.

Henrik R Clausen said...

thll, I think you're underestimating the common sense of common people. We have a wonderful Danish fairytale The Emperors' New Clothes, which describes the mechanism very well.

If someone is clever-naiïve enough to state the obvious - that the ideology of Tariq Ramadan is utterly anti-democratic and has no use in the modern world, we might suddenly get a stampede away from the illusion he's weaving.

We just have to keep hammering until the dam breaks.

Anonymous said...

I watched the video and thought Bolkestein came off very well - at least as well as one can while engaged in as thankless and frustrating a task as debating a Taqiya practitioner. While he did bring up the fact that Ramadan speaks one thing to Westerners but something completely different to Muslims, I wish he would have elaborated more on the subject of this doctrine of Taqiya, where it's okay to lie if it protects Islam. How informed on this point was the audience, I wonder? Because, it seemed to me that applause for Ramadan's comments was louder than for Bolkestein's.

There were a lot of times when Ramadan yelled, "I NEVER said that!" I wish Bolkestein would've supplied dates, times and places. Other times Ramadan yelled, "That is NOT in the Koran! You will not find that in the Koran!" I wish Bolkestein would have asked, "But what about the Hadith?" (records of the words and deeds of Mohammad which provide plenty of instruction in the practice of deception for the protection of Islam).

When debating a Muslim, one simply has to assume that deception will be the main tactic. I didn't sense that Bolkestein was operating from that premise. The debate would have been even more effective had Ramadan been matched with a Muslim apostate, but then I suppose the required security would have been too problematic.

thll said...

HRC - but it took a child to point out the emperor's nakedness. Everyone else was too busy trying to convince themselves of his marvellous attire.