Tariq Ramadan, Oxford Professor, has again been denied a visa application.
Timothy Garton Ash, in the October 6 New York Review of Books, called Ramadan an “Islamic Reformer” of the sort that might inspire hope for Muslims in Europe yet notes that he is “deeply distrusted by [Theo Van Gogh collaborator] Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the French left, and the American right.” If the NYRB says he’s a reformer, how could they possibly object? His thoughts about Islamic integration in Europe are more encouraging than most, but problems remain.
The quiddity: Ramadan made contributions to the French Committee for Charity and Aid to Palestinians, which the State department suggests routed funds to Hamas, and whose assets in the U.S. have been frozen since 2003. Ramadan has stated that the money was simply humanitarian aid, but then offered rather knavish defenses of the meaning of “terrorist.” Let’s listen to him in the New York Times:
.. he said he had sent the funds in 2000, long before Hamas was declared terrorist. He noted that the aid group was legal in France, and that the French city of Lille had cooperated with it for several years.
Ramadan was awarded a professorship by Notre Dame in 2004 but the state department rejected his visa request to take up that post. The ACLU has taken up Ramadan’s case. It goes without saying that the ACLU suggests that this is a politically-motivated effort to deny entry to a Bush administration critic whose aid activities were entirely humanitarian. We’ll see. Who else has this doyen of moderate Islam criticized? For one, French Jewish intellectuals, in an article in Le Monde for their varying support of efforts against Saddam Hussein. As quoted in the New York Times:
Conclusion: Tariq Ramadan is far more progressive than French Jews, just ask him. How ultimately can America get along without this thinker, whose donations and Le Monde sentiments reveal abundant proof of his progressive pedigree?
Even before the most recent Israeli-Palestinian crisis, he wrote, “Jewish French intellectuals, who until then we had considered universal thinkers, started to develop analyses on the national and international front that were more and more biased toward the concerns of their community.” Their interests “as Jews or as nationalists or as defenders of Israel” came before equality and justice, he added.
He criticized, among others, three of the most high-profile intellectuals in France — Bernard-Henri Lévy, André Glucksmann and Bernard Kouchner — for supporting to varying degrees the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq.