Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tariq Ramadan, Osama bin Laden "Soft-Mainstreaming" Islamist Terror

Tariq Ramadan derives his street cred from the fact that his granddaddy was Hasan al-Banna,the famous founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Also, soft Arabists like Gilles Kepel have anointed him as an articulate expounder of the airy arabesques that the French love so well, employing post-modern tropes to confuse and confound those hoping for rational "discourse." Here is Christopher Hitchens on Ramadan:
Thus, he tells Egyptian television that the destruction of the Israeli state is for the moment "impossible" and in Mantua described the idea of stoning adulterous women as "unimplementable." This is something less than a full condemnation, but he is quick to say that simple condemnation of such things would reduce his own "credibility" in the eyes of a Muslim audience that, or so he claims, he wants to modernize by stealth.

His day-to-day politics have the same surreptitious air to them. The donations he made to Hamas (donations that led to difficulties receiving a visa to teach at the University of Notre Dame, a position he eventually resigned) were small gifts directed to Hamas' "humanitarian" and "relief" wing. He did not actually say that there was no proof of Osama Bin Laden's involvement in the atrocities of Sept. 11, 2001; he only warned against a rush to judgment. He often criticizes the existing sharia regimes, such as that of Saudi Arabia, especially for their corruption, but such criticism is as often the symptom of a more decided Islamist alignment as it is a counterindication of it.

In Mantua, he was trying to deal with the question of dual loyalty, as between allegiance to Islam and allegiance to the democratic secular European governments under which Muslim immigrants now choose to live. He redirected the question to South Africa, where, he said, under the apartheid system there was a moral duty not to obey the law. After sitting through this and much else, I rose to ask him a few questions. Wasn't it true that the Muslim leadership in South Africa had actually endorsed the apartheid regime? Wasn't it evasive of him to discuss the headscarf in France rather than the more pressing question of the veil or niqab in Britain? Wasn't it true that imams in Denmark had solicited the intervention of foreign embassies to call for censorship of cartoons in Copenhagen? And was it not the case that he owed his position as an informal cultural negotiator to the fact that his grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, had been the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, an extremist organization of which his father had also been a leader in Egypt?

He described my last question as too "offensive" to deserve an answer. He gave quite a good reply on the Danish point, saying that the imams in question had been a minority and should not have received support from foreign governments. He completely dodged the question of the veil in Britain, ignored my request that he give any reason to believe that women were wearing it voluntarily, and he admitted that the Deobandi Muslim leadership in South Africa had indeed been a pillar of the old regime. On the other hand, he added, some Muslims had been anti-apartheid, and these were the "real" ones. Indeed, on everything from stoning to suicide-murder to anti-Semitism, he argues that the problem is not with the "text" itself, or with Islam, but with misinterpretation of it. How convenient. Ramadan often relies on the ignorance of his Western audiences. He maintained that there was no textual authority for the killing of those who abandon their fealty to Islam, whereas the Muslim hadith, which have canonical authority, prescribe death as the punishment for apostasy in so many words.

But Christopher comes up with a wild surmise. Ramadan might just be Osama's respectable sock-puppet:

When I went to Ramadan's event in the Palazzo d'Arco, I had just finished reading Osama Bin Laden's latest anniversary prose-poem. Here, too, are signs of an act being cleaned up. He brags of the murders of Sept. 11, of course (thus inconveniencing all those who attribute them to Mossad or some mysterious other agency), but he does not forget to cite Noam Chomsky, CIA maverick Michael Scheuer, and the Oliver Stone theory of the JFK assassination. He also exhibits concern for the global-warming crisis, the fate of American Indians, and even the recent collapse of the subprime mortgage market. Everything he says about the war in Iraq, right up to the affected concern for the civilian and military casualties, is presented as if he had hired one of Michael Moore's screenwriters as a consultant. Most unctuous of all, he reminds his audience that the Quran has a whole section in praise of the Virgin Mary, an ecumenical point that I had noticed before. (It is typical of monotheisms to plagiarize each other's worst features, from Abraham onward.) I think that this pitch is probably too crude and crass to work, but it's exactly the crudeness and crassness of Bin Laden that require the emergence of more "credible" middlemen to allay anxiety and offer reassurance. Only six years on, and already the soft mainstreaming of Islamic imperialism is under way.

So all the chameleon juking and jiving by Ramadan appears to have influenced Adam Gadahn, Osama's ghost-writer who now mouths near-platitudes as he attempts to shake loose the weak-minded victims of American academicide who, like Gadahn, are lost in a haunted wood.

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