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Daniel Pipes posted this evaluation of the State Department’s decision (dictated by Obama) to overrule a longstanding ban on permitting the Islamist academic Tariq Ramadan to enter the US:

Jan. 20, 2010 update: From today’s Associated Press:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has signed orders enabling the re-entry of professors Tariq Ramadan of Oxford University in England and Adam Habib of the University of Johannesburg in South Africa once they obtain required admittance documents, department spokesman Darby Holladay said.

Clinton “has chosen to exercise her exemption authority for the benefit of Tariq Ramadan and Adam Habib,” Holladay said. “We’ll let that action speak for itself.” In a prepared statement, Holladay noted the change in U.S. posture since both professors, who are frequently invited to the United States to lecture, were denied admittance after making statements counter to U.S. foreign policy. Both the president and the secretary of state have made it clear that the U.S. government is pursuing a new relationship with Muslim communities based on mutual interest and mutual respect.”

Comments: (1) I always expected this outcome, that Ramadan would be allowed in, because so many forces were aligned in his favor. That the exclusion lasted over five years was impressive.

(2) Note that this change was ordered from the very top, specifically invoking Obama.

(3) Note also the sleaziness of the State Department spokesman, ascribing Ramadan’s exclusion to his “making statements counter to U.S. foreign policy.” No, the reason was explicitly his having provided funds to a terrorist-related organization. Why the gratuitous lie, State Department?

(4) The Obama administration puts this case into the context of “pursuing a new relationship with Muslim communities based on mutual interest and mutual respect.” But it’s always been a terrorism case, with no connection to issues of Islam. What amateurs.

(5) Note the term “mutual respect,” the hackneyed phrase repeatedly applied to the U.S. government and Muslims – so much so that I have devoted a whole blog to Obama’s use of these words.

(6) So, fellow Americans, how many of you feel safer with the prospect of Tariq Ramadan present in person to talk to our Islamists?

Paul Berman, whose superb 30,000 word expose on Ramadan in the New Republic showed how the Swiss-born Islamist terrorizes journalists with the threat of violence, had this comment in Tablet magazine today:
Tariq Ramadan is coming to America. Is it a mistake for the Obama administration to let him in?

It’s a good move for the U.S. to encourage freedom of speech and open debate. It’s a mistake, however, to imagine that he has positive contributions to make.

Ramadan has no deep, important thoughts we need to hear?

I do think it’s worth the trouble to look into his deep thoughts, and to notice how problematic they are. He can say something attractive at the level of a slogan; but when you examine it more closely it turns out to have unexpected meanings. He opposes terrorism but he does it with a series of asterisks. If you read the footnote in tiny print you discover some troubling aspects regarding terrorism, and this is borne out by the fact that he did donate money to a Hamas charity. To do so was not illegal at the time, and he has himself argued he didn’t know where his money was going. But if you read Ramadan carefully you would not be surprised to learn he donates money to such groups.

In my book I have more to say about Ramadan’s own philosophical ideas, which I find pretty appalling and obscurantist.

How can so many Western intellectuals, like Buruma and Garton Ash, just to name two, be so wrong about Ramadan?

The main reason they are attracted to Ramadan’s ideas is because of a bias against Muslims that leads many people to think the Muslim world, which contains 1.5 billion people, is incapable of producing genuinely attractive thinkers. Of course this is untrue, but because so many people believe it, they turn to Tariq Ramadan.

Another reason is that there is a Western fantasy that some messianic Muslim figure will step forward and resolve all the outstanding problems between Islam and the West. There’s a search for the great Muslim hope. Ramadan is put into that role, and he puts himself into it. To imagine that such a figure will step forward also reflects a bias against the Muslim world, since it suggests there is such a thing as the Muslim world—when in fact there is not any such thing. Islam has 10,000 sects and heresies and 100,000 episodes in its history, on the one hand. On the other hand, there are 56 states in the Organization of the Islamic Conference, each of which has its own history. So we’re talking about 1.5 billion people resting on 1,400 years of history. It’s absurd to think of this as constituting a single unit. The idea that it does constitute a single unit is a doctrine of the Islamist movement—with a single movement you have a single leader, like the caliph.

The defense of Tariq Ramadan in intellectual circles reflects a series of unexamined and in some cases very unattractive assumptions. I have expressed myself on this and will be doing so again at length, with gusto.



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