The Magazine

The State Dept. Was Right

To deny Tariq Ramadan a visa.

Oct 16, 2006, Vol. 12, No. 05 • By OLIVIER GUITTA
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Because I've studied his statements and his writing. I was struck by the extent to which the discourse of Tariq Ramadan is often just a repetition of the discourse that Banna had at the beginning of the 20th century in Egypt. He never criticizes his grandfather. On the contrary, he presents him as a model to be followed, a person beyond reproach, nonviolent and unjustly criticized because of the "Zionist lobby"! This sends chills down one's spine when one knows the extent to which Banna was a fanatic, that he gave birth to a movement out of which the worst Jihadis (like Ayman al-Zawahiri, the number 2 man of al Qaeda) have emerged, and that he wanted to establish a theocracy in every country having a single Muslim. Tariq Ramadan claims that he is not a Muslim Brother. Like all the Muslim Brothers . . . since it's a fraternity which is three-quarters secret. . . . A Muslim Brother is above all someone who adopts the methods and the thought of Banna. Ramadan is the man who has done the most to disseminate this method and this thought.

In response to her book, Ramadan calls Fourest an agent of Israel but doesn't refute her findings. Predictably, as soon as her book was published, an Islamist website threatened Fourest and posted her address and the pass code to get into her building.

Fourest is not the only one who has seen through Ramadan's game. Prominent moderate Muslims also accuse Ramadan of double talk. For instance, the head of the largest French antiracism association, SOS Racisme, Malek Boutih (an Arab Muslim), told Ramadan after talking with him at length: "Mr. Ramadan, you are a fascist."

But while the French have come to see Ramadan as one more Islamist, the British have honored him with a fellowship at Oxford University and, more important, a seat on the Blair government's committee tackling extremism. As one stunned European diplomat told Radio France Internationale, "It's like putting a diabetic in the middle of a pastry shop."

But Ramadan has learned from his mistakes and is taking ever greater pains to conceal his true identity. In fact, his writings over the past year have been almost above reproach: He has even gone so far as to criticize some of the excesses in the Muslim world after the pope's recent remarks about Islam.

Ramadan's stint in England has refurbished his credibility and given him a new start. This is handy, from his point of view, as the United Kingdom is the ideal launching pad from which to reach the main objective: For the Muslim Brotherhood, the big prize has always been the United States.

Olivier Guitta is a foreign affairs and counterterrorism consultant in Washington.