News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Islam's Pretty Face?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Islam's Pretty Face?

Tariq Ramadan is a controversial Islamioc scholar. He was once banned from teaching at Notre dame after 911. Currently, he is sitting on a special commission created by Tony Blair to study best approaches to attacking Islamic extremism.

Whether or not Ramadan is controversial depends, perhaps, on your ideological preconceptions. No doubt, the following comments from an interview go against the grains of extremist Islam and extremist western ideologues.

What is the reason for these extremes? To me it has been obvious from the start that there are extremists on both sides, yet only those on the Islamist side have been highlighted. Is this the "fog of war"? Is that explanation enough, I wonder?

Note, though, that Ramadan talks about a "culture of fear." It seems that those who have an interest in promoting these extreme sides take advantage of both fear and resentment. Until that is clear to the public, perhaps, and they take some action--like voting out the present rulers--that will continue to be the case, at least in the western societies.

For Islam, I think, the problem today is that the notion of a "public" and "public opinion" is just now taking root. With the spread of technology, I think, this will subvert the extremists. Something of this can already be seen in the loss of prestige of extremist Ismalists in opinion polls since the suicide bombings and related attacks in Iraq have gotten significant airplay on "Arab" TV.


Living together: an interview with Tariq Ramadan
Oscar Reyes
September 2005

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Are the new global justice movements reaching out effectively to Muslims, or are they also repeating a kind of cultural imperialism?

"Both. Some within these movements understand that they have to study, to know more, to decentre themselves from the culturally dominant ideology. But others are totally misled by their perception that they are politically progressive, and fail to understand that they are culturally still very conservative and even backward sometimes, very imbibed with the ideology of colonisation, that ‘we know best’. It’s very difficult to deal with such people.

Within the movement we have a mix of people, but the majority are still quite ignorant of the potential from other cultures or other religions. It’s as if we are using old concepts, old understandings, and reorganising them and trying to find new strategies. But we don’t only need new strategies. We need a movement built on new perceptions and even new members. We need people who understand that they have to be serious about diversity. We deal with people in the name of our common resistance but we come from specific realities, values and histories."

To read more of this interview

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