Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Tariq Ramadan appears to have set a new low in equivocal condemnations of terrorism. Islamist media is reporting that in comments for a BBC radio show, Ramadan urged that an attempt be made to “understand the grievances that might lead such people to commit such extreme acts of violence” and appeared to blame Western attitudes for the attacks:
January 8, 2015 Nothing justifies the killing of innocent civilians, but Western governments must be more consistent in their treatment of human life, says Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University.
Speaking on the BBC’s Today Programme earlier this morning, Prof Ramadan condemned the attack on the Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, saying that, ‘these are very difficult times and a very sad situation’ and expressing his ‘deepest sympathy for the victims’ families.’
‘We must start by condemning what happened and what was done in the name of Islam… what they did in fact was to betray our principles, our values and the overall message of Islam,’ he stated.
Whilst vocal in his criticism of the perpetrators, Prof Ramadan highlighted the importance of a calm and coordinated response to the attack, and to not allow ordinary Muslims to bear the brunt of the actions of a few violent extremists.
‘What is important for us on this day of mourning, in France but also in the West, is to understand that what is happening now and what will come afterwards is not only a Muslim business; it’s our responsibility to come together to know who are our enemies when it comes to violent extremism and not to go to…confusion in our discourse… and politicians, journalists and intellectuals are responsible and there is a shared responsibility,’ he stressed.
Prof Ramadan also outlined the need for a more nuanced reaction to the atrocities, and for there to be a real attempt to understand the grievances that might lead such people to commit such extreme acts of violence. In particular, he emphasised that the divergent responses to the deaths of Westerners and those of other individuals around the globe may be partly to blame for the growing appeal of extremist ideology.
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In 2008, the GMBDW published an analysis titled “Muslim Brotherhood Positions On Terrorism- Denial, Deception, Defense, And Obstruction.” The third point of that analysis read as follows:
3. DEFENSE- Having staked out the positions that Islam is not violent and that Jihad is not connected with violence, the Brotherhood is left with the task of defending the violence carried out by Islamist groups. Since according to the Brotherhood these groups cannot, by definition, be motivated by Islamic ideology, there can be only one answer- they are fighting because of “legitimate grievances” and hence are “freedom fighters.”
Tariq Ramadan is best described as an independent power center within the Global Muslim Brotherhood who has 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.”
For our full profile on Tariq Ramadan, go here.