Tariq Ramadan Says Bin Laden Death “Non-Event” For Muslims

Tariq Ramadan

Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Tariq Ramadan has weigh in on the death of Osama Bin Laden, calling it a “non-event for the world’s Muslims” and devoting most of his analysis to criticism of the U.S. and the West. The statement begins:

Reactions during the first week after the announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death have been really revealing. While the symbolic impact of the news touched off a media frenzy in the West, coverage was far more restrained in majority Muslim societies and throughout the Global South. It was as though we were witnessing, in real time, two distinct perspectives on the world. The rhetoric of violent extremist groups, be they al-Qaeda or others, never gained traction among the world’s Muslims. With the exception of tiny groups functioning autonomously, we can conclude that terrorism has been a marginal phenomenon since September 11 2001. In fact, terrorists have killed more Muslims than Americans or Europeans, from Bali to Amman and from Morocco to Iraq, by way of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The ‘celebration’ of the execution of bin Laden raises a number of questions that—far from conspiracy theory—any thinking person is justified in asking. Far from any rejoicing, they represent the uncertainties that continue to trouble Muslim minds around the world—not to mention numerous Westerners. How can bin Laden have avoided detection in a place so close to Islamabad for more than five years? What precisely is the relationship between Pakistani and American intelligence services in the light of their contradictory versions of the event? Why was there no attempt to arrest him? How are we to explain the absence of photographs, the disposal of his corpse into the sea (in pointed disregard for the Muslim rite his executioners publicly claimed to respect)? Aside from such questions, and the legitimate doubts they express, the death of bin Laden, as an icon and symbol of terrorism, is all but a non-event for the world’s Muslims.

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Tariq Ramadan is perhaps best described as an independent power center within the global Brotherhood 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.” Ramadan is currently professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Theology and senior research fellow at St. Antony’s College (Oxford), Dohisha University (Kyoto, Japan) and at the Lokahi Foundation (London). Previous posts discussed his dismissal from his positions as an adviser on integration for the city of Rotterdam and from a Dutch University over his role as a talk show host on Iranian TV. A ban on Ramadan traveling to the US was lifted in January 2010 and several posts have discussed his recent visits to the US where he appeared at various US Muslim Brotherhood venues including giving the keynote at the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Chicago annual banquet in April 2010. He was scheduled to give the keynote address at the 16th annual CAIR banquet in October.

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