Reviewed by Mark Silinsky
Middle East Quarterly
Fourest, a French journalist, has revealed the real nature of Tariq Ramadan, one of the most effective and threatening Islamist activists in the West. Some Europeans embrace him as a Muslim version of Martin Luther but Fourest shows how Ramadan intends to help make Europe a majority Muslim continent.
Fourest has waded through the complex record of his preaching—particularly off-the-record and impromptu speeches to fellow Muslims—and found a sometimes refined and sometimes puerile contempt for the West and an abiding faith in the supremacy and eventual triumph of Islam. This is the « doublespeak » to which the title of the book refers. Among the themes are Islamo-feminism, itself worth a book; integration and national allegiance; and Zionism.
Then-interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy brought to French national attention Ramadan’s refusal to state categorically that there is no place in any society under any circumstances for the stoning of women; Ramadan would only call for a « moratorium, » allowing him to appear moderate to Europeans but protecting his fundamentalist credentials among Muslims. Ramadan has used this rhetorical device in other circumstances, and Fourest points out how typical this is of Ramadan’s rhetoric. If Israeli children are murdered in a car bombing, Ramadan can say, « It is condemnable, » but he is able to avoid having to say « I condemn it. »
Ramadan is likewise Janus-faced on the matter of European Muslims integrating themselves into European civilization. He says that Muslims should obey the laws of the countries in which they reside but also that they should resist the contaminants of Western civilization. He supports the laws of countries as long as they do not conflict with Islam. It is not surprising, then, that he advises Muslims not to serve in the army of a European country if it is at war with an Islamic state. And what would serve as a model for Ramadan’s new Europe? He sees in Sudan an example of a country that successfully has resisted globalization.
College students, often so eager to learn about the suffering of women, would do well to read this book. Their professors would do well to find space on their reading lists between Edward Said and Howard Zinn to place this highly readable and most relevant book in the assigned reading.