Tariq Ramadan Practices Free Speech at Cooper Union
4:49 PM, Apr 9, 2010 • By JOHN ROSENTHAL
It is difficult to say if the vacuousness of Ramadan’s discourse provides a true measure of his intellect or if it is not rather a byproduct of his tailoring his discourse for a “western,” non-Muslim audience, as he has been so often accused of doing. But for evidence that his specifically “Muslim” texts written for a Muslim audience can be perceived as equally vapid, see my interview with the Algerian-born linguist and novelist Latifa Ben Mansour here. “I have to say that I’ve already dedicated a lot of time to this character,” Ms. Ben Mansour told me when asked about Ramadan, “As far as I’m concerned, his case provides a good example of the way in which the western media are capable of making a respectable authority out of a lot of hot air.” (For further evidence of the disdain in which Ramadan is held by moderate Muslim intellectuals in France, see the translated exchange between him and the Franco-Tunisian author Abdelwahab Meddeb here.)
But the premise that Ramadan’s “exclusion” from the United States was a function of his ideas or opinions is clearly belied by numerous details of his case. These include for instance:
Needless to say, Tariq Ramadan has vociferously denied having any personal connection to terror networks, and any or all of the allegations against him in this regard could, of course, turn out to be unfounded. But they are obviously not merely matters of free speech, as the ACLU, the PEN American Center, and all the other self-styled heroic champions of Tariq Ramadan’s “cause” would like one to believe.
John Rosenthal writes regularly on European politics and transatlantic relations for various both old and new media. More of his work can be found at the Transatlantic Intelligencer blog (www.trans-int.com).
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