A New Quark: Parsing Tariq Ramadan

I’ve become a monthly Monday columnist on 3QuarksDaily. Here is my first essay, on Tariq Ramadan’s visit to Boston University:

The day Tariq Ramadan came to the university to speak, I had just been teaching my social anthropology class about the contradictions between the ethical and pragmatic aspects of Islam. How can people claim Islam is egalitarian when Muslims around the world use religion to justify intolerance and patriarchy?… (click here for the rest of the essay)

21 Responses to “A New Quark: Parsing Tariq Ramadan”

  1. I am using the same logic:) I am learning Western values:0)

    As the object of the studies by Jenny White and other enlightened scholars, I decided to wear a T-shirt saying “I am Muslim, but I am not a Terrorist and I am against the violence. I beg you to believe me” This is to make sure that they will not think I am a terrorist and supporter of violence just because I am a Muslim Turk.

    By the way, can we ask Kurds in Turkey to do the same thing? Should they prove that they are not supporting PKK? If Turkish scholars do that, is it acceptable? Or is it called racism?

    Or can we ask American coming to Turkey to say “we are not here to invade your country but just to visit your country, though we have invaded your neighbor.”

    May be those of us, Muslims, who are against terrorism should have a blue start on them:0) Why not:) I can do that just to make sure I am not a terrorist:)

  2. My sympathies are squarely on the side of the disrespectful students, not a typical guilt-wrenched, Stockholm syndrome afflicted Western “liberal” seeking to being “nice” to an Islamist. Ramadan holds repulsive views on feminism, homosexuality, freedom of speech and corporal punishments. He defends the Islamist dictatorship in Iran. He is not a man of peace, tolerance and pluralism. He is an Islamist who has learned to use some nice sounding words. Enough for gullible Western professors. In essence, Ramadan still defends the puritanical, traditional, conservative tenets of the Salafi Islam. Yussef Qaradawi is his theological/ideological inspiration, the lunatic who defends suicide bombers. The West should instead promote real liberals in the Muslim world.

  3. Ali,
    .
    Excellent. Yes. Reject the entire premise of this nonsense. This obligation to say “I am a Muslim but not a murderer” is producing its own cottage industry of literature, speakers, pundits etc.
    .
    Just to provoke people here, I’ll link to this: http://ricochet.com/main-feed/Austria-is-Not-Made-Up-of-Tolerance-Romantics
    .
    I have read most (perhaps all) of the comments there. It is amazing that people need to ‘sniff’ things or ‘have Jewish sensitivities’ to see the utter nonsense in that third rate demagoguery. (Check the facts, check the reasoning, change Muslim to Jew or Buddhist if you have to, this does not take a sixth sense!) This is what happens when people convince themselves just because they were born in or live in points West of the River Maritza they are able to think straight. Of course this is believed by many here too, who feed right into it and pander.

  4. Here is an excellent article in Standpoint, where Nick Cohen thrashes Ramadan’s fellow-travellers. Jenny White, welcome to the club!

    http://www.standpointmag.co.uk/features-sept-10-radical-islams-fellow-travellers-nick-cohen-tariq-ramadan

  5. Excellent article in Standpoint!

  6. Excellent article in Standpoint!

    For someone whose last name is Cohen, it is pleasantly surprising that he has expended such efforts to point out things to discredit Tariq Ramadan and Islam in general.
    .
    Nice of him to do so, of course.
    .
    But I would also like to see a cohen explain whether this, below, is true: [see here]

    Racism originated in the Torah,” said Rabbi Yosef Scheinen, who heads the Ashdod Yeshiva. “The land of Israel is designated for the people of Israel. This is what the Holy One Blessed Be He intended and that is what the [sage] Rashi interpreted.

    .
    And, if it’s not true, how come it is being practiced right in the core of Israel.

  7. CA– What does any of what you just wrote have to do with the article in Standpoint? And what is your point? That Israelis can be racists? Of course they can be. Also Lebanese, and Irish, and Americans from Hawaii. We’re humans. We’re all basically racists to a certain degree.

  8. People are happy in the Netherlands that he’s fired from Erasmus University Rotterdam and special advisor to the city of Rotterdam city council (fired by the Morroc born moslim mayor of Rotterdam). Why? He has a special message for his Western audience and one for his Muslim followers. Jenny, you can more about him on presstv.com The Iranian channel he works for. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/19/tariq-ramadan-islamic-sch_n_263253.html
    I have hundreds of links in Dutch and French about and by him. The guy is complete insane.
    The following guy is more interesting American Islamic Forum for Democrazy :http://www.aifdemocracy.org/

  9. Hans,
    .
    He has a special message for his Western audience and one for his Muslim followers.
    .
    This is what what we tell you [foreigners interested in Turkey] to check for Turks you guys get excited about too. It isn’t that people should evaluate what’s said on the basis of who said it, but rather that praise/demand and fame/money etc. coming from the gullible ‘Western’ audiences can elevate the wrong kind of people to prominence. This demand for a certain kind of ‘Muslim’ is causing many people to fulfill this market need. These are not necessarily the people anyone should want to be in any capacity to influence others.

  10. Jenny,

    Do you ever feel that the most people who read your website are haters?

    They hate AKP, they hate Muslims, and anybody who doesn’t hate them.

  11. Michael,

    What does any of what you just wrote have to do with the article in Standpoint? And what is your point? That Israelis can be racists? Of course they can be. Also Lebanese, and Irish, and Americans from Hawaii. We’re humans. We’re all basically racists to a certain degree.

    I meant precisely what you’ve written here: Please don’t single out us Turks.

  12. CA– How and when did I ever single out Turks?

  13. @Bulent: I agree on this with you; I find many Western journalists to stubborn and too ‘smart’; at least, they think they are with some prejudice against Turkey & Turks. Turkey is not so difficult to understand, you have to start listening to the right people.)
    @Tugrul; yes, we are haters! We Love Them To Death, ask my wife.)!!

  14. Hans that’s not what I said at all. You are not agreeing with me, but you are making my point. If you believe things like “Turkey is not so difficult to understand, you have to start listening to the right people” those ‘right people’ will appear out of nowhere to take you for a ride. You may enjoy the ride and advertise those people as the ‘right people’ but understanding wouldn’t be the thing that happened.
    .
    I don’t understand this country myself even though I have access to some of its history through personal memory and I am a native speaker of the language. I’d be very suspicious of people who try to convince me that it is easy to understand.

  15. Bulent, Turkey in reality is not that difficult to understand. It is a politically underdeveloped, infantile, unstable and volatile country. Turkish people always complain about corruption of the politicians. But they are corrupt themselves! Turkish people are much more corrupt than their politicians. Because they expect politicians to provide for them in exchange of their votes. This is called clientelism. Even clean politicians get corrupted this way, because they cannot survive if they don’t distribute material benefits to their voters. I would also add that most Turks are staggeringly ignorant about what is going on outside Turkey.

    That said, it would be also fair to say that on personal level Turkish people are some of the most generous, friendly and hospitable people on earth.

  16. Parviz, what do you mean when you say you understand a country? I would mean something like being able to make predictions that come out OK and being able to articulate/transfer that knowledge. I can do neither except in very restricted (and rather worthless) cases. For example, I can, as can you, predict that many ‘liberal’ pundits here will ignore or spin very objectionable stuff, but that is like predicting what the transvestite streetwalkers I see in Elmadag will be doing later in the night. It just takes a modest amount of neurons to do that, not real wisdom or knowledge.
    .
    In your example the kind of clientelism you mention with the votes is not really what goes on here. The voters probably would like what you describe to be the case, so to that extent they are corrupt if this is corruption. They call the politicians corrupt because instead of providing them, the electorate, with benefits, the politicians enrich their own individual and institutional supporters. This can be shown to be the case with hard data/names etc. and even I could perhaps do so — but won’t on the net. People like CA (this is what you get, CA, for disclosing wealth info) know more, of course. Later I’ll try to find you a quote you might like (calling businessmen ‘siyaset orospusu’) from someone you’ll find honest (some AKP guy) related by someone you’ll probably dislike (pious guy, M. Bekaroglu).

  17. People like CA [...] know more, of course.

    Here’s quick and short story:
     
    Decades ago, someone from Pentagon visits Turkey on a mission to find out what sort of defense capabilities Turkish manufacturers have and could contribute to NATO with. [I befriended and had a couple of lunches with the guy, who --in passing-- mentioned that the visit was actually organized by the CIA, and wasn't really about bringing Turkish companies on board; it was, on the contrary, to evaluate who can do what on commercial/strategic competition basis.]
     
    Anyway, at the end of that study, a few companies were selected (with the knowledge of Turkish state/government) and it was decided [I have no idea whose decision it was] that these companies should set up a company in the US, managed by the same guy I mentioned above.
     
    So, the company I was working for at the time, joined in with a reasonably large sum of money [*] as our equal share of the capital. I attended the first couple of board meetings.
     
    Those board meetings were incredibly educational for me. There were members far more experienced/seasoned in international defense business and in those board meetings they spoke quite candidly –naming names, events etc.
     
    Till then I was so sure that dealings in the US government (especially in the defense sector) were as fair as you could possibly have anywhere on Earth.
     
    Well… Was I wrong.
     
    Starting from the president and Secretary for Defense, going all the way down the bureaucracy, the whole system reeked corruption and kickbacks; and if you wanted to get in on the game not only should you know who is who and in whose gang, you needed to know the the price of admission and membership fees.
     
    The only thing nice about it all was that all of it was being done well behind curtains away from public eyes..
     
    That was a my initial eye opener.
     
    Then, the more I looked the more in detail I saw practically the same thing in all sorts of other countries –Germany, UK, France etc.
     
    My conclusion has been this: In terms of total sums (per capita), the level of corruption is much higher for these countries. But, they skilfully manage to keep it to the upper echelons as they have much more elaborate schemes/systems to keep ordinary public unaware (see Shell=Nigeria revelation from WikiLeaks, for example); yet, in TR, while the total sum (per capita) is much lower, it is much more visible and involves much lower levels of society.
     
    So, you take your pick: Which of these is better?
     
    [*: The company in question didn't do anything. All it did was to spend that capital on the (high) wages of that guy plus a couple of admin persons (whom we never met). Once the capital ran out, the company was silently liquidated. We all knew what happened though: We paid the expenses of the guy to survey Turkey. You get to do this sort of thing if you're 3rd world country. Education has a price too, also.]

  18. CA, thank you but how is this about corruption in Turkey? Anyway:
    .
    Till then I was so sure that dealings in the US government (especially in the defense sector) were as fair as you could possibly have anywhere on Earth.
    .
    Did you really think this? Why? When you looked at US politicians and the political class in general, did you really see anything that deeply/fundamentally different than what you saw here? Did you also think, say, loan sharks there provided compassionate community service for the needy and the American used car salesmen had the ethics of the ancient prophets? I’ll try to tie this together with another probable similarity below.
    .
    So, you take your pick: Which of these is better?
    .
    Why are these the two choices we get? I’m sure during the cold war people in the US who made noises about gov’t defense contracts and such got told Soviets not only spent similar amounts but also that they forced their workers to work in armament factories. Perhaps something like: “you don’t want the income from your labor to be taxed for bomb-building? Well Soviets will make you build them or send you to the Gulag. Take your pick.” I don’t know if conversation like this happened there, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did because we heard similar reasoning here on many things. Come to think of it, we still do.

  19. BM,

    [..] how is this about corruption in Turkey?

     
    It is. And, very much so.
     
    In so many surveys, I see TR coming up quite high; yet countries such as USA are much lower.
     
    I just wanted to tell that there are more than what meets the eye.
     

    Did you really think this? Why? When you looked at US politicians and the political class in general, did you really see anything that deeply/fundamentally different than what you saw here?

     
    Naive as it may seem now, I did think the administration was very much cleaner than politicians.. You’d probably think the same if you’d seen how detailed those mil specs were.. hinting at checks and balances all the way, in order to remove any chances of corruption in supply chain.
     

    Did you also think, say, loan sharks there provided compassionate community service for the needy and the American used car salesmen had the ethics of the ancient prophets? I’ll try to tie this together with another probable similarity below.

     
    No, of course not. As far as these are concerned, I was fully aware how decent the participants of ‘free market’ were long ago. But, as I said above, I was nave enough to think defense sector was different.
     

    Why are these the two choices we get? I’m sure during the cold war people in the US who made noises about gov’t defense contracts and such got told Soviets not only spent similar amounts but also that they forced their workers to work in armament factories.

     
    Nope. We’re not talking about the same thing.
     
    What you’re pointing at is (I think) much more innocent –a well meaning administration wasting money due to paranoia.
     
    What I am saying is entirely different: Even if you’re doing a honest work, you have to pay a string of people to get in on the procurement list etc.

  20. CA,
    .
    What you’re pointing at is (I think) much more innocent –a well meaning administration wasting money due to paranoia.
    .
    No, of course not. Governments spending that kind of money are always to be suspected (here, there, everywhere) is what I am trying to say. Corruption comes in many forms. You can have an entire hierarchy working like clockwork when it comes to production, but the stuff surrounding it, the methods by which demand is created for the product and the product itself (alongside selection of one over the other) may be just as objectionable –if not more — as the small time bribery. You don’t even need bring up DoD stuff if you wish to talk about the US. They’ve just been through a period with the financial crisis where the emperor not only personally admitted to the public that he had no clothes but also performed lap dances for some and mooned the others.

  21. BM,

    You don’t even need bring up DoD stuff if you wish to talk about the US. They’ve just been through a period with the financial crisis where the emperor not only personally admitted to the public that he had no clothes but also performed lap dances for some and mooned the others.

    You’re, of course, right: Now, after several decades, and in hindsight, I am –hopefully– much wiser on this specific topic. The ‘financial crisis’ did help that realization immensely too –seeing the chronic robbers bailed out first and then put in charge of the coffers..
     
    But, things weren’t so clear –to me– then.
     
    And, there’s one more thing: I am not sure you’re aware of this even now; but the ‘x’ in “the Secretary/Commander is x-descent” is very very important if you’re ever planning to sell anything of significant sum to NATO or DoD. This alone makes it significantly more expensive for a Turkish company.

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment