Tariq Ramdan Endorses Barack Obama


Tariq Ramadan, one of the most important leaders of the global Muslim Brotherhood, has issued a qualified endorsement of Barack Obama in the U.S. Presidential campaign. The statement (in full) reads:

The new president must begin with symbolic actions to demonstrate that the life of an Afghan, an Iraqi or a Muslim is worth no less than that of an American The eight years of George W Bush’s presidency have accustomed us to so many errors, lies, wilful distortions and political manipulation that a page is about to be turned in the history of the United States. Since September 2001, the Bush regime has been obsessed by the ”global war on terror” and the conflict with the “axis of evil.” But over time, Americans have awakened to the emptiness of these bellicose and arrogant slogans. Barack Obama’s election would be an event to be welcomed for several reasons; yet we must not be lulled into complacency by naive estimates of what lies ahead. Barak Obama’s roots, his past and his multiple cultural identities stand in stark contrast to the profiles of George W Bush or John McCain. His understanding of, and relations with, the countries of the world _ particularly of the global South _ and with American society itself point to a different outcome. Taken together, his life and experience make hope for a new understanding of domestic and international issues possible. On the most fundamental level, Colin Powell has laid out the terms of reference: Barack Obama is not a Muslim; he is black and Christian. But, in the final analysis, what if he were a Muslim? What is wrong with being ”African-American” or ”Muslim” in today’s America? While it now appears that the US can live with the election of a black American, indica tions are that a new, virulent anti-Muslim racism has arisen in the wake of the events of September 2001. Given such fears, and the hardening of religious and ethnic divisions, Barack Obama’s past and origins should make it possible for him to emerge as ”everybody’s president”. In rejecting manufactured divisions, cultural biases and the ”religionisation” of social issues, Barack Obama could well become the symbol of a new United States simply by wielding his stature as president to promote domestic policies that favor justice and equality, empowering citizens of all origins. The first black president’s greatest achievement would be to cause people to forget his colour. But success is far from assured. On the international level, Barack Obama should be able to lay to rest the deafness of the outgoing administration, which spared no effort to persuade Americans that they were the victims of ”aggressors” who ”hated” their civilisation and their values. Above and beyond the condemnation of terrorist acts, which is virtually unanimous and should be unconditional, the criticisms and grievances of the entire world must now be heard. The policies of the Bush administration have produced a worldwide rejection of the United States. The new president must begin with symbolic actions to demonstrate that the life of an Afghan, an Iraqi or a Muslim is worth no less than that of an American. The time has come to put an end to the language of bullying and intimidation and to close the dungeons of shame at Guantanamo and other similar prisons around the world. As president, Barack Obama could no longer justify, in the name of American national security, the deaths of the innocent, legalised torture, extraordinary rendition and other dis criminatory measures up to and including the granting of American visas. If Obama’s diversity of origins gives cause for hope, it would only be insofar as these origins would permit him to open doors instead of close them. The campaign has made it clear that we must entertain no illusions. Change may be significant in certain areas; in others, it is bound to be limited. The Palestine-Israel conflict is central to world peace. Yet Barack Obama has taken such an outspoken pro-Israel stance (before an American pro-Israel lobby) that significant change on this issue would be extremely unlikely. Nor should much be expected in dealing with the international economic crisis. Both issues (unconditional support for Israel and economic neoliberalism) seem to constitute untouchable dogmas. No American political figure dares call them into question. But the future of the entire world hinges on the global-local conflict in the Middle East and on the international economic order. We must not succumb to irrational hope. There can be little doubt that some positive change could be expected under a Barack Obama presidency. Any such change should be welcomed; at the same time, our critical vigilance must not be relaxed, especially with regard to the sacrosanct dogmas of a political and economic establishment that cannot bring itself to acknowledge the dignity of the Palestinian people, or the devastation wrought by an economic order that has plunged so many across the planet into poverty and insecurity.

There are several passages of note concerning the global Muslim Brotherhood:

  • Assertions about a “new, virulent anti-Muslim racism” in the U.S. have been a staple of Brotherhood propaganda and are not born out by evidence.
  • Mocking the idea that Islamic extremists hate Western civilization amd values is a Brotherhood tactic to shift spotlight away from their ideology and onto U.S. foreign policy.
  • Identifying “discriminatory practices” as responsible for the denial of visas (presumably to Ramadan) would seem self-serving and ignores his role as a Brotherhood leader.
  • The attack on “economic neoliberalism” is likely a disguised means of endorsing the notion that Islamic finance should replace Western financial systems.

Ramadan himself is an extremely important figure within the Global Muslim Brotherhood network, perhaps best described as an independent power base with sufficient stature as the son of Said Ramadan and the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood to challenge positions taken by important Brotherhood leaders. His statements and writings have been extensively analyzed and he has been accused by critics of promoting anti-Semitism and fundamentalism, albeit by subtle means. On the other hand, his supporters promote him as as example of an Islamic reformer who is in the forefront of developing a “Euro Islam.”

In April, a Hamas political adviser also expressed his hope that Obama would win the election, comparing him to John F. Kennedy. Hamas can be considered essentially the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.

Comments are closed.