Ramadan refutes allegations
Tariq Ramadan responds point by point to the allegations of critic Daniel Pipes.
Pipes: Of course, Mr. Ramadan dismisses the revocation as "unjustified" and due to "political pressure." He even blames me for the DHS decision.
Ramadan: I never said nor suggested that Mr. Pipes is behind the decision to revoke my visa. My unambiguous response was "I don't know who is behind it." Reporters who quoted his opinion on what might have led to the decision mentioned his name first and not I. As for the link he included as evidence for my accusation, the reporter in this piece references the Chicago Tribune for having talked to Mr. Pipes. I am merely referenced for confirming that "Daniel Pipes had expressed his opposition to my move to the United States." A fact that Mr. Pipes had made very clear months before as cited by his own website Campus Watch where he comments on my appointment by Notre Dame saying: "Once again we see that the leftward leaning academy and in particular the Kroc Institute has a soft spot for militant Islamic figures. Given what we are now learning about him, it would appear like others, he is playing a double game of hiding an Islamist agenda."
Pipes: He has praised the brutal Islamist policies of the Sudanese politician Hassan Al-Turabi. Mr. Turabi in turn called Mr. Ramadan the "future of Islam."
Ramadan: Nothing in what I said about these policies is remotely complimentary let alone praising. After visiting Sudan, in 1994, I wrote in Islam, The West and the Challenges of Modernity (translation of the French version published in 1995): "Nonetheless, one must clearly say that the present regime does not offer minimal guarantees for political pluralism, that opposition parties are muzzled and that cronyism is the rule. Muslims are called to remain vigilant, for the opposition of the United States and Israel is not enough to support the 'Islamic' character of a project. Criticism of excess and injustice imposes itself; just as bringing to the fore original ideas is part of an equitable analysis" (p. 139). Christophe Ayad, Liberation, the French journalist who first attributed the quote "The future of Islam is Tariq Ramadan" to Turabi, admitted he was unable to mention the source. Even if these were Turabi's words, where is my responsibility in this?
Pipes: Mr. Ramadan was banned from entering France in 1996 on suspicion of having links with an Algerian Islamist who had recently initiated a terrorist campaign in Paris.
Ramadan: Yes, I was banned from entering France between November 1995 and April 1996 but that is only half of the story. A reason was never given for this ban, but we were later told it was a case of mistaken identity due to name resemblance with someone named "Tarek" (note the different spelling). Some said that the ban was possibly due to pressure from the Egyptian government whom I have been criticizing for lack of democracy and political freedom. I challenged the ban and won the case, before the Administrative Court, on April 1996 precisely because the reason for the ban had not been explicitly stated. As for Mr. Pipes' assertion that this ban was for having "links with an Algerian Islamist," it is not only baseless, but it was neither part of the case, nor ever mentioned by the French administration.
Pipes: Ahmed Brahim, an Algerian indicted for Al-Qaeda activities, had "routine contacts" with Mr. Ramadan, according to a Spanish judge (Baltasar Garzon) in 1999.
Ramadan: I was asked about contacts with this individual last year and I unequivocally denied ever meeting or speaking to him. Frederic Chambon, a reporter for the French daily newspaper, Le Monde, investigated these allegations and on December 23, 2003, put his findings in a full page report about my work. Since Ahmad Brahim was in jail, in this report his daughter, having asked her father about it, confirmed that he "did not have phone contacts" with me. Furthermore, the Swiss and French intelligence services were quoted in the same article stating "Tariq Ramadan has never appeared in one of our files."
Pipes: Djamel Beghal, leader of a group accused of planning to attack the American embassy in Paris, stated in his 2001 trial that he had studied with Mr. Ramadan.
Ramadan: When Djamel Beghal was first arrested in Dubai, he claimed that in 1994 he attended my course and wrote my speeches; he changed his story when he was extradited to Paris and only claimed to have attended the course in 1994 but did not write the speeches, which too was inaccurate since my courses did not start until 1997. In the investigative reporting referenced above, Frederic Chambon asked Beghal, through his lawyer, about his contact with me or the influence I might have had on his education, Benghal responded that he had no personal contact and "only attended lectures and that had no influence on his religious route."
Pipes: Along with nearly all Islamists, Mr. Ramadan has denied that there is "any certain proof" that Bin Laden was behind 9/11.
Ramadan: Once again Mr. Pipes distorts the facts by selective references that leaves out context. My post 9/11 stance is clear. Immediatly after these attrocities, on September 13, 2001, I put out an open letter to Muslims and fellow citizens. I called for Muslims to unequivocally condemn these acts and said to them: "Don't hide yourself behind the conspiracy theory: Even if we don't know who did it, you know as I know that some Muslims can use Islam to justify killing an American, a Jew or a Christian only because he/she is an American, a Jew or a Christian; you have to condemn them and to condemn these attacks." On September 20, when investigations were still ongoing and the world was discussing who might be behind it, I responded in the article cited by Mr. Pipes as evidence for his accusation and in it I said "Until now, the investigators did not bring a final and clear evidence of his culpability. The probability is large, but some questions remain unanswered...But whoever they are, Bin Laden or others, it is necessary to find them and that they be judged." When the investigations were further along in October, my response to Time Magazine was very clear: We should condemn Bin Laden's statement and actions. Fairness would demand that Mr. Pipes put my statement in the context of discussions of the time, and not to present it as my final stance on the matter.
Pipes: He publicly refers to the Islamist atrocities of 9/11, Bali, and Madrid as "interventions," minimizing them to the point of near-endorsement.
Ramadan: The term "interventions" was not my word, but one effectively used by the journalists in the French magazine Le Point (April 22, 2004) following a phone interview with me. Proche-Orient.info, a French website known in France as the "sister website of Daniel Pipes' website," echoed Mr. Pipes' allegation of "minimizing them to the point of near-endorsement." I called the chief editor, who was so upset with what was attributed to me that he offered me the opportunity to respond. In the next issue (April 29, 2004), I wrote an article titled very clearly "Enough Is Enough" and I made it clear that I have always condemned the terrorist attacks in New York, Bali, Madrid or elsewhere.
Pipes: Intelligence agencies suspect that Mr. Ramadan (along with his brother Hani) coordinated a meeting at the Hotel Penta in Geneva for Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy head of Al-Qaeda, and Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh, now in a Minnesota prison.
Ramadan: It is interesting to note that Daniel Pipes does not give the date. The first time I heard this story, it alleged that this meeting was in 1992. In 1992, I was in Egypt. A few months later the story changed and alleged the year was in 1991. In 1991, my brother was in Egypt. So when and with whom was this supposed meeting? The Swiss intelligence cleared my name of these accusations when it publicly stated that Ayman al-Zawahri did not enter Switzerland. Furthermore, I did not ever meet him or Omar Abd el Rahman to whom I am supposedly related to, according to Daniel Pipes sources.
Pipes: Mr. Ramadan's address appears in a register of Al Taqwa Bank, an organization the State Department accuses of supporting Islamist terrorism.
Ramadan: The Al Taqwa Bank had a list of addresses in a general mailing list. We were told that the address of the Islamic Centre of Geneva was in this list along with the addresses of more than 2,000 international organisations including UN headquarters address, the Swiss Confederation, and embassies including the Egyptian and American embassies. Neither my name nor my address appears in a register of al-Taqwa. I never met nor talked to its director.
Pipes: Then there is the intriguing possibility, reported by Olivier Guitta, that Osama bin Laden studied with Tariq's father in Geneva, suggesting that the future terrorist and the future scholar might have known each other.
Ramadan: This is the first time I hear that Osama was even in Geneva, a point apparently also missed by the Swiss intelligence and Osama's biographers. My father did not know Osama and I have neither met nor talked to him. It is possible, however, that Mr. Pipes is confusing Osama with his half-brother, Yaslem bin Laden, whom I met once for exactly five minutes after a lecture I gave in Geneva in 2003 and who also is known to be in contact with high level American politicians.
Pipes: Ramadan denies all ties to terrorism, but the pattern is clear. As Lee Smith writes in The American Prospect, he is a cold-blooded Islamist whose "cry of death to the West is a quieter and gentler jihad, but it's still jihad."
Ramadan: If I were calling for the death of the West, as Mr. Pipes accuses me of, then my book Western Muslims and The Future of Islam would have been a call for a collective suicide of over 20 million of us who are at once Westerns and Muslims. There would be no future of Islam in the West, would it not? What should be very obvious to anybody who ever read any of my 20 books, 700 articles, or listened to any of the 170 or more audio-taped lectures is the simple message of my work: The very moment Muslims and their fellow citizen realize that being a Muslim and being American or European are not mutually exclusive they will enrich their societies. -