Tariq Ramadan misrepresents his views on terrorism in Guardian op-ed

Tariq Ramadan is a renowned Muslim intellectual born in Geneva, and currently serves as Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University. Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al Banna, one of the founders of the Muslim Brotherhood

He’s also a frequent contributor to the Guardian.


On Jan. 9th, Ramadan published a Guardian op-ed titled ‘The Paris attackers hijacked Islam but there is no war between Islam and the west‘, which opens with the following declaration:

The attack on Charlie Hebdo compels us to be clear and to be consistent. We have to condemn what happened in Paris absolutely. I said the same after 7/7 and after 9/11

Later in his Guardian op-ed, Ramadan speaks more broadly about terrorism.

We condemn the violent extremism that is targeting westerners.

However, the evidence suggests that Ramadan is mischaracterizing his views.

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The Muslim Brotherhood are turning into Leninists in Islamist dress. Egypt is in real trouble

(Alan Johnson’s essays on the the dangers posed by the rise of Islamism are truly in a league of their own.  And, his most recent analysis, published on Nov. 5 at The Telegraph and excerpted below, is clearly no exception.  A.L.)

Hardliners are gaining the upper hand in Egypt

Paul Berman, the New York intellectual, is perhaps the most penetrating and imaginative essayist writing about Islamist movements and ideas alive today. In 2010 he published The Flight of the Intellectuals, a stylish account of the Muslim Brotherhood: the Islamist political movement founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna (known in Arabic as al-Ikhwan al-Muslimeen). According to Berman, the party was shaped decisively in both its ideology and organisational methods by mid-century European totalitarianism and was a politically hardened, ideologically driven and anti-Semitic movement. It was from this inconvenient truth that much of the western media and many public intellectuals were in flight.

When I praised Berman’s insights to a group of normally super-astute democracy promotion analysts in DC, to my surprise most took the view that Berman’s thesis was “crazy” and that the Muslim Brotherhood were really like the Christian Democracy in Europe; they had confessional roots, for sure, but were pragmatic folk and could be a force for “moderation”. I responded that the Brotherhood was exactly like the CDU – apart from its party structure, ideology, rhetoric, policy, and goals.

Back in 2010 ours was an academic argument. Well, not any more. The Brotherhood will dominate the region’s politics over the next decade. It is already regnant in Egypt, the most populous Arab country and the intellectual fulcrum of both the Arab and Muslim worlds, after sweeping to power earlier this year by winning the parliamentary and presidential elections, marginalising the secular democrats and knocking the military off their perch. In Tunisia the Brotherhood sits in government in the form of Rachid Ghannouchi’s Ennahda. The Justice and Construction Party (JCP) in Libya only won 17 of the 80 seats available for parties in the elections for Libya’s 200-strong national congress in July, but hopes to do better next time (the Brotherhood is very patient). The Syrian branch will be a force in any post-Assad regime (in the early 1980s the Syrian branch conducted an armed rebellion) and in Jordan it grows in strength. Hamas, of course, is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.


The Guardian’s Brotherhood

Muslim Brotherhood

Jack Shenker and Brian Whitaker are rolled out by the Guardian to teach its readership about the Muslim Brotherhood as they become prominent in the Egyptian revolt to oust Mubarak.

In an “exclusive” interview granted by the Brothers to the Guardian we are treated to the same old platitudes and shades of dark grey learning less about who the Brotherhood is but more about the Guardian – shown once more as the central place to whitewash Islamism, bigotry and hate.

Yes it is mentioned that the Brotherhood is not supportive of gay rights. Wow. I suppose many readers may have thought the Brotherhood is some grander version of “Queers for Palestine” before being educated by Whitaker.

However there is zero mention of the fascist roots of this movement. The Guardian, expectedly omits the direct Nazi links and Nazi inspiration both in the article and the accompanying picture album showing the “turbulent” history of the Brotherhood.

That turbulence, according to the Guardian, stems from the anti-colonial nature and roots of the movement, opposing British industry and Arab dictators from Nasser to Mubarak.

Here’s another example of how Guardian writers express their lost novelist side when educating their readers on aspects of Islamist fanaticism:

“But placating foreign powers was not what Hassan al-Banna founded the movement for in 1928. It was Britain’s presence in Egypt that led to the brotherhood’s creation. Six Egyptian workers employed in the military camps of Ismailiyya in the Suez Canal Zone visited Banna, a young teacher who they had heard preaching in mosques and cafes on the need for “Islamic renewal”.

Cafes, students and mosques. One might think this was a Middle Eastern version of 1968 Paris by reading this.

In this passage we are led to believe that this movement is a peaceful one and has not been linked to anything nasty since 1954.

“The brotherhood was also implicated in an attempt to assassinate President Gamal Nasser in 1954, but it has long since renounced violence as a political means in Egypt. By the 1980s it was making determined efforts to join the political mainstream, making a series of alliances with the Wafd, the Labour and Liberal parties. In the 2000 election it won 17 parliamentary seats. Five years later, with candidates standing as independents for legal reasons, it won 88 seats – 20% of the total and its best electoral result to date.

Well they were also implicated in the assassination of Anwar Saddat but I guess that fact may not jive well with the phrase “long since renounced violence”

No mention of Quttb’s association with – and ideological affinity for – Adolf Hitler, nor any mention of the central role played by the infamous Mufti of Jerusalem in establishing this movement.

Should we even mention the plan to take over and destroy the West from within?

Probably not, as that would disturb the romanticization of such extremists that the Guardian often succumbs to.

No mention that Al Queda’s number 2, Ayman Al Zawahiri was originally a Muslim Brotherhood activist. (He was supposedly more of the mosque type than the café type.)

It seems that the Guardian must lack access to Google, as even a cursory search would provide a clear outline of the fascist links and roots of the movement – how it was inspired by the emerging Nazi party in Germany (how anti-colonial is that) and influenced by its ideals, and how the brotherhood was the leading purveyor of anti-Semitic propaganda in the Middle East.

The Brotherhood is exactly the opposite of what Whitaker and Shenker would want us believe. They are the ultimate colonizers. They lack the means at present but their plans and ambitions are anti-colonialist only to the extent that they oppose the colonialism of others. They want a Caliphate ruled by Sharia where non-Muslims pay Jiyzia to the Ummah for protection.

From Mein Kampf to the Protocols, the Brotherhood has been influenced by the vilest hate literature – an enmity responsible, in large measure, for the current state of affairs in Muslim-Jewish relations.

The Guardian omits the links to Hamas and other nasty outfits, omits that the Brotherhood is at the root of modern Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism and whitewashes once again a nasty hate based movement as some progressive assembly of well-meaning pious men whose only imperfection is that they do not get on board with rights of sexual minorities.