Mastering the art of taqiyya (double speaking to fool the unbelievers), Tariq Ramadan has enchanted many with his apparent moderation. But a careful examination of his words reveals that Professor Ramadan is not what he seems and claims to be. Yes, he says that he "agrees with integration" of Muslims in the West, but he is careful to say that "we [Muslims] are the ones who are going to decide the content." He mollifies by saying that he accepts Western secular law, but, here's the catch, "only if this law doesn't force me to do things against my religion." And when he is cornered with questions on the brutality of some punishments of Islamic law, such as stoning, he tells us that he is against them, but (there is always a "but") they are in Quranic texts and so he cannot fully condemn them and we have to settle for "an absolute moratorium on all physical punishments."
The telegenic, soft-spoken and charming professor is just the modern, westernized face of the same enemy that wears a different mask on other battlefields. As the distinguished expert of Middle East affairs Fouad Ajami recently wrote, Tariq Ramadan is, "in the world of the new Islamism, pure nobility." His moderate façade hides his radical heart and just a careful read of his words would reveal it. France, the country that knows him best, has made up its mind on him. A court in Lyon recently said that preachers like Tariq Ramadan "can exert an influence on young Islamists and therefore constitute an incitement that can lead them to join violent groups."
In France at least, some leftist intellectuals have recognized Mr. Ramadan for what he is. The self-censorious New York Times was even forced to report that Bernard-Henri Levy, who wrote the best-seller "Who Killed Daniel Pearl," accused Ramadan of being the "intellectual champion of all kinds of double-talk" with a "racist vision of the world" and having promoted anti-Semitism. The Times further reported that Bernard Kouchner, the foreign aid advocate and former health minister of France, called Mr. Ramadan "absolutely a kook with no historical memory" and "a dangerous man." He added, "The way he denounced some Jewish intellectuals is close to anti-Semitism."
Still, the Ramadan fan club in the U.S. continued to portray the exclusion of Mr. Ramadan as part of an anti-Muslim campaign; the charge of anti-Muslim racism, part of the larger orchestration by radical Muslims to portray themselves as the victims of hate, has been mastered perfectly, requiring only the collaboration of the American media. At the height of the controversy last year, The New York Times opined that "American Muslim groups questioned the government's ability or willingness to distinguish between what they see as Muslim moderates like Mr. Ramadan and extremists." But who were these American Muslim groups, portrayed by the Times as intellectually honest arbiters of who really is a moderate? None other than off-shoots and branches of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic radical movement that gave birth to al Qaeda and Hamas, and whose founder was none other than Hassan Al-Banna, the grandfather of Mr. Ramadan.
And there are those who fall back on the free market response: Is the most powerful nation in the world afraid of allowing Mr. Ramadan access to the intellectual pluralism of the U.S., where free speech is honored as the most sacred privilege that we have?
Well, Mr. Ramadan does not need to be in the United States to convey his message and thoughts. Through the Internet, media and instant telecommunications, the American public is not being denied one iota of Mr. Ramadan's propaganda.