Tariq Ramadan & Jocelyn Cesari: Al Qaeda linked 'scholar' and apologist propagate hoax of Islamophobia at EPC conference
Scholar banned from US as security threat and 'expert' conclude : intolerance not terrrorism is greatest danger facing Europe
MIM: Al Qaeda tied Tariq Ramadan and apologist Jocelyne Cesari conclude: "Islamophobia a dangerous reality in Europe" at an EPC (European Policy Center) confab. Tariq Ramadan's grandfather founded the Muslim Brotherhood, the precursor of Al Qaeda. One brother runs an Islamic Center in Geneva which is directly tied to Al Qaeda and most recently to a terrorist plot to shoot downan El Al plane after takeoff.. Ramadan himself was denied entry into the United States because he is considered a security threat, and has been directly tied to Islamist organisations and people involved in terrorism.
According to Jocelyn Cesar, Ramadan is just 'a poor Jihadi whose intentions are good' and she laments that he is just 'misunderstood'.
June 26, 2006
MIM: No terrorism to see here folks- move on ...
What a relief to hear from scholars and Islamists that Islamophobia and not terrorism is " a dangerous reality in Europe!"
The two 'scholars' who reached their conclusions have ignored the simple fact that the term Islamophobia is a fabricated one and cannot be applied vis a vis Muslims (see: There is no such thing as Islamophobia t" by Bernadette de Witte.
As Ms.Wit points out:
MIM:Tariq Ramadan a Swiss born Muslim professor recently denied entry into the US, and Joceylne Cesari, an Italian apologist for militant Islam who is affiliated with Harvard, both postulate that ' a fear of Muslims' being a dangerous reality in Europe" and in trying to propagate a false phenomenon, have shown themselves to be aligning with those who would have the public and media believe that it is Western intolerance and Islamist terrorism which is the greatest danger in Europe today.
Ramadan, an Islamist who cries victimhood at every turn , has been linked to Al Qaeda and is a scion of the family of Hassan Al Banna, one of the founders of the Muslim Brotherhood. Not surprisingly he was denied entry to the United States last year to take up a professorship as a result of his terrorim ties, but the EU's soft spot for Islamic radicalism resulted in his being given a professorship in the UK at Oxford University and made him a sought after speaker for Europeans who want to thumb their noses at the Americans who have labelled him a 'threat to national security'.
The Ramadan family continue to pose a long time threat to European security, Tariq Ramadan's brother Hani, runs an Islamic Center in Geneva, which is linked to Al Qaeda funding and recently saw a congregant arrested in connection with a plot to bring down an El Al plane taking off from a Swiss airport with a missile launcher.
According to Joceylne Cesari who was billed as one of the 'key figures' at the conference 'social factors' like 'cultural practices' and the ' Islamist terrorist threat' have nothing to do with religion!
Europe: Conference Examines Obstacles To Real Tolerance
BRUSSELS, June 13, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- A meeting of scholars in Brussels has concluded that frictions between Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe have their roots in prejudices created by social tensions and often uncritically accepted sweeping generalizations.
Jocelyne Cesari, a French scholar of Muslims and Islam, was one of the key figures at the June 12 conference, which was organized by the European Policy Center. She and a team of researchers have recently conducted a study that concludes Islamophobia, or fear of Islam, is a dangerous reality in Europe.
But Cesari, who is affiliated with the Paris-based CNRS and U.S.-based Harvard University, found that the everyday tensions that feed Islamophobia have little or nothing to do with religious differences.
The Real Issues
Instead, she said, the problem has more to do with four social factors. These are the Muslims' immigrant background, usually lower social standing, cultural practices, and the Islamist terrorist threat.
"These kind of key domains of discrimination can be used either by Muslim[s] or non-Muslim[s] in an ideological way," Cesari said. "When some Muslim[s] tend to lump together structural inequalities and clear [instances] of [someone] discriminating [against] Islam, and saying, 'This [means] all Europe is against Islam and all Westerners are enemies' -- this does [happen]. On the other side, non-Muslims tend to do the same thing, to see all Muslim[s] as the same, unified group threatening not only the jobs, not only the housing, but also the core values of European society."
Another participant, Muslim thinker Tariq Ramadan, noted such "ideological" generalizations nurture further discrimination against Muslims by non-Muslims.
Time To Examine Key Assumptions
At the same time, he said, the generalizations create a "sense of victimhood" among European Muslims.
Ramadan called for both sides to examine their key assumptions critically. His main criticism, however, was directed at the way Europe's political establishment is increasingly succumbing to an irrational fear of Muslim communities.
Ramadan said such fears stem from Europe's economic difficulties, pressures of immigration, eroding national identities, and citizens' concerns over security in the wake of recent terror attacks.
As a result, he argued, Europe's Muslims are on the verge of facing persecution reminiscent of that of Jews in Europe in the 1930s.
Ramadan said that like Jews then, Muslims now face increasing accusations from the political mainstream of engaging in "double talk," "double loyalty," and having a secret, proselytizing agenda.
Ramadan said that preying on non-Muslim Europeans' fears, Europe's politicians are turning its laws against the Muslim minority.
A Double-Edged Sword
"The law that we are all promoting [is] not implemented the way we want," Ramadan said. "In fact, when you trust the citizens you are dealing with, you use the law to integrate them. When you don't trust them, you use the law to protect yourself [against] them. The same text, but not the same reading."
Ramadan argued for a new, inclusive definition of what it means to be European, based on overarching, undiscriminating laws and equality of citizenship.
A reminder of just how difficult reconciliation may prove to be was provided by a Portuguese member of the audience, Luis Armorim.
Armorim said that as a married homosexual in Brussels -- which is home to many Muslim immigrants -- he "fears Islam."
"I'm afraid for my personal physical [safety] because as a homosexual, and a married one with a[n adopted] child of 11 months, in certain areas of Brussels, I cannot hold hands with my partner," Armorim told the conference. "Because I see myself being insulted and physically threatened because I'm holding hands with my partner."
Armorim explained that he is not denouncing Islam or its adherents indiscriminately, but he worries that there appear to be "no voices" advocating tolerance in Muslim immigrant communities.
He said "versions" of Islam appear to want to "invade Europe's public space" and put people like him in a position of "marginalization, if not illegality, and even of death."
Need For Self-Criticism
In the ensuing lively debate, some Muslim participants downplayed Armorim's fears, arguing Muslims too face daily discrimination.
However, Ramadan said Muslims do tend to shun self-criticism.
"We have a lack of internal discussion, intra-community discussions, critical discourse," Ramadan said. "The very moment you start to be critical with your own fellow Muslims, it's as if you were playing with the other.' You are on the other [side] you are with the West against us."
Cesari agreed, saying Muslim intellectuals tend to be "very conservative." She said the Muslim world must "put the public voices of [its] intellectuals behind tolerance."
Tariq Ramadan (AFP file photo)Ramadan said he believes "the great majority of Muslims" do not want to change Europe's "social sphere" and its values. Their main ambition is to abide by the law, respect others, and be respected in their difference.
Responding to a question from the audience on the increasing use of controversial "civic-knowledge" examinations by EU countries, Ramadan provided a telling counterpoint to the debate. He said a German friend had told him, "ask the pope to sit the examination, and he will fail."
Ramadan's quip is a reminder that the mainstay of Christianity in Europe, its Catholic Church, holds homosexuality to be a mortal sin and does not allow women to become priests.
MIM: At a recent conference on Islam and Europe Danish professor Jutte Klausen mentions radical Islamist Tariq Ramadan as a voice of reason in European Islam, and idiotically claimed that 'radicals are not being recruited in mosques'.
Dr. Jytte Klausen: I just want to start out by thanking our host, Stephen Schwartz, for getting us all started and for having this opportunity to talk about what is really an important issue.
I started about four years ago a project based on interviewing Muslim civic and political leaders in Western Europe. When I started my project, I thought that the headscarf conflicts were over, and that in fact we were now in the recovery phase and the whole issue about Islam and the accommodation of Muslims would move into politics as usual. How wrong I was.
I want to address the question about theology and political ideology today. Muslims understandably feel that their faith should not be held responsible for terrorism, but yet terrorism has raised some very large questions about the relationship between religion and politics. When you look at the European debates, there are different opinions about where Islamist terrorism comes from. There's a sense among many security people that it is an international movement. The folks who crop up here and there engaging in terrorism in Europe are recruits who have found Islam late in life and this is actually pretty much a statistical fact. And that they have more in common with earlier generations of terrorists - like with the IRA or other groups, like the German Bader-Meinhof group or the Italian Brigado Rosso. A second theory is that terrorism derives from the issues related to the integration of Islam in general.
Then there are people who think that Islam is, in some measure, at fault. I think what is important to recognize is that it is common to say in the United States that there are ten times as many people arrested in Europe on terrorism charges as there are in the US. Well, there are also ten times as many Muslims in Europe as there are in the United States.
The latest North American plot suggests that it is probably not true that Europe is in any particular way responsible for breeding terrorism. Most of the recruits for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and terrorist operations in Iraq, have not been Europeans - although there was the woman, a Belgian woman, a convert who blew herself up --but most of the recruits really come from the Islamic states. It is, in sum, not clear to what extent general alienation and anger at the conditions Muslims are faced with in Europe really are responsible for the rise of terrorism. I think ultimately it's more interesting to address a much harder question about what does Europe need to do in order to come to terms with Islam? And what do Muslims need to do?
In the aftermath of the July bombings, it was interesting to watch the reactions among British Muslims: Muhammad Naseem, who was a candidate for the Respect party in the Parliamentary elections and chairman of the trustees for the Birmingham Central mosque, took the opportunity when the police had a press conference after it was revealed that the July 21st bombers were from Birmingham to stand up and say that he thought that the July bombers were innocent passengers who had been framed by the government. His statement eaarily echoed the rumors that the 9/11 attacks on Washington DC and NY were planned by the CIA to make Muslims look bad. And he went on to say that Muslims all over the world have never heard of an organization called al Qaeda.
This was an example of the kind of denial turning into apologia, that you do hear occasionally. There were also sane voices. Immediately when he said this, the Labour MP, Khalid Mahmood, elected in Birmingham stood up and called for Mr. Naseem's resignation and said the man has his head in the sand, he's saying black is white, etc. etc. A more common, and perhaps more debatable way of addressing the relationship within Islam to the terrorists, is exemplified by the reaction by Imam Abduljalil Sajid, a prominent British imam, who has been in charge of interfaith dialogues for the Regent Park mosque, andargues that it should be forbidden to describe the terrorists as Islamic.
Imam Sajid argues that because what the terrorists are doing is against the Qu'ran, the term Muslim perhaps could be used to describe them, but not the term Islam, because the terrorists are outside the faith. In fact, this is a strategy that the EU has recently taken in a new set of guidelines just issued for how the press should deal with issues related to Muslims and Islam. But when we think about it, this kind of nominalist response really doesn't work. The reality is that there are serious public policy issues that we have to come to terms with. We need to have a debate about theology and the compatibility with modern values.
In Europe, the debate is often wrapped up in a general worry about a new alliance between religious folks *-- Catholics, American-style Evangelicals, and Muslims-- who are increasingly voicing common complaints about bioethics, abortion, and other issues. For instance, in Britain, the Muslim Council of Britain joined up with the Anglican Church and the Roman Catholic Church to prevent an amendment to an adoption law, which would have allowed same-sex couples to adopt children. It is the same issues that often come up in complaints about the threat to secular values.
In reality, there are serious issues in Europe about how Europeans should learn to live with religious people. Europe does not have a First Amendment tradition, and currently as many of you know, it is standard practice in Europe to maintain lists of banned sects, which include many religious groups that are quite active in the United States, including Scientology, but it also goes much further than that. Most clergy, Roman Catholic or Protestant, are educated at public universities or publicly supported seminaries. In most European countries, the salaries of clergy are paid via tax money in one way or another. In Germany the federal government collects a church tax that it redistributes to the recognized faiths, which include the Protestant, the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Jewish community, but not Islam.
I think it's very important to recognize that when we speak about the issues connected to the rise of fundamentalist religion,* about the integration of Islam, there are various types of interpretations of Islam, emerging, some of which are anti-democratic but others are not. We need to get the general picture of what it means to build a new faith in Europe. In a very short time span, Islam has become Europe's second largest religion and there is absolutely no infrastructure supporting the development and the institutionalization of Islam. To some extent, the fact that Islam is Europe's first congregational faith, in the sense that it is the mosque councils and the mosque communities themselves that are responsible for building mosques, for the supervision and the hiring and employment conditions of imams,is a gift. We should learn to recognize that it is a gift because Islam is now being developed in Europe outside the control of authoritarian clerical elites and authoritarian Islamic states. This is what Tariq Ramadan speaks about when he talks about European Islam as a new movement, a source of revival within Islam, and an opportunity to rid Islam of the various kinds of rigidities--sometimes he uses the word impurities-- * that authoritarian state elites and clerics have promoted over the past century.
Nonetheless, it is important to recognize that this movement takes place in private homes and private communities, not in the universities, and not with any assistance from the universities, and often against great opposition from local governments and national governments. In some cases, anybody who gets engaged in these theological reform movements will be subject to suspicion and even supervision. The German agency for the protection of the Constitution routinely blacklists any groups that are associated with Milli Görüs (MG), a Turkish group. MG has historically has been opposed to the state-sponsored Islam in Turkey. However, today the divide between state-sponsored and not state-sponsored Islam is not so clear anymore, because the Justice and Development party (a moderate Islamist party descending from the banned Refah party) is controlling the government in Turkey, and the current government has been pushing very hard to make the two groups work together in Germany. All of these issues impinge very much on the development of Islam in Europe.
Islam developing in Europe is free of clerical authority, except for that which is provided by the various governments in the Islamic countries that maintain an interest in development of Islam in Europe. Let me just briefly give you some numbers. We do not really know much about Islam in Europe, and that's why speculation can develop. By my estimate there are perhaps 6,000 mosques in Western Europe. This number is based on various types of censuses done by security agencies. A French Security Agency did a report that was published and found out that there are over 1,000 imams in France; about half are working full-time. Only 45 percent are paid regularly, and the rest are paid either in kind or are unpaid. Of those who are paid, Turkey supports 60. Turkey has government-to-government contracts for supplying and supporting Turkish-educated and funded imams in a number of Western European countries, and has about 800 imams stationed in Western Europe annually. Algeria supports 80 in France, and Morocco only two. The Saudi Arabian government pays for about a dozen, who have graduated from Saudi Islamic universities but none of them are Saudis. Thy are the Wahhabis we were talking about. Less than 20 percent of imams are of French nationality, and of those who are French nationals, have been naturalized. Very few are French-born, and over half are over fifty years old. One-third speaks French with ease, and another third speaks it with some difficulty and the last does not speak it at all.
We could probably do a census like that in any European country and we would find somewhat similar results, with the one difference that the countries of origin vary. Now, this tells you something about the challenge of developing a European Islam. In my interviews, it was very apparent very early on that European Muslims' dependency upon the Islamic countries for imams, the training of imams and relgious scholars, and for funds for the construction of mosques, is a very big issue among Muslims. I spoke with Parliamentarians and city counselors, regional and national leaders of civic associations, mosques associations, and other groups, and among Europe's Muslim leaders today, the primary concern is how to develop Islam in a way that is detached from the influence of the Islamic countries. It was something that came up again and again. And, yes, people had concerns about political nonsense being preached in the mosques.
Radicalism spread through the mosques was high on the lists of people's worries. If you go into mosques, the number one concern that any mosque council has is that there will be a radical identified in their midst, and the security agencies will storm the mosque and it will be closed down. Or, alternatively, their number two concern is that they will be unfairly targeted and the mosque will still be closed down.
Now these are serious issues, but Muslims have other reasons to want Islam integrated in Europe. Speaking in a sociological sense integration has an interesting way of coming in through the back door. Today, Muslim parents are keenly concerned about providing a model of Islam for their children that is compatible with getting an education, getting a job, and growing up. Now, I have probably presented a different picture to you than what you have heard before, but we know that perhaps only about 15 percent of Europe's Muslims are what we would call "fundamentalist." This number is based on very inaccurate, very methodologically difficult studies, but there are three different studies done that have come up with numbers in this range.
The fundamentalists aside, everybody else is looking for a way to practice their faith in a way that makes it possible to be a European, but the way the mosque community is organized creates a problem for Muslims in their daily lives. As one association leader said to me, "80 percent of the imams in my mosque association are incapable of dealing with the kinds of issues that routinely come before them: family conflicts, conflict with local governments, politicians who are saying nonsense about what goes on in the mosque, and so on." There was a collective movement, about 15 years ago to build new mosques, to get "the mosques out of the backyards" was how people saw it.
We can see, in retrospect, that in the mid 1980s, there was a sense that the "the myth of return", the idea that settlement in Europe was temporary, had come to an end, and it was time to settle down roots and build proper mosques. That's when conflicts over Islam really started to emerge in Europe. Now we are in a new phase. Those mosques have pretty much been built, although in some countries problems remain. In Denmark, there is not a single purpose-built mosque, because local governments have consistently been opposed to giving permission to the construction of mosques.
Nonetheless, the second phase really regards religious education in schools, the training of imams, and the development of a presence of Islam in Western Europe. There is a great deal of bootstrapping going on, with mosque associations developing new capacities, and self-regulation is taking place, which is one reason why the radicals are no longer meeting in mosques. The days of the Finsbury Park mosque are over, it won't happen again. If you go looking for the extremist groups, such as the Hofstadt group, the group responsible for killing Theo van Gogh, the Dutch film maker, well, they were meeting in private apartments. Today, the radicals are recruited in prisons, in private apartments, not in mosques. That problem creates a real serious obstacle to inter-religious dialogue and to the development of an educated and articulated presence of Islam in Europe.
Stephen Schwartz: Thank you, Professor, for that very enlightening presentation which I'm sure will stir some very interesting questions. I'm going to give the microphone now to the Ambassador Marc Ginsberg. You all have biographies and I think Marc, you are still involved in this Arab broadcasting project