Sakset/Fra hofta

Ian Buruma har en lang artikkel om Tariq Ramadan, som omtaler seg selv som «reformert salafist». Ramadan går inn for en tredje vei – en sosialistisk islamisme, som knytter an til «motstand» og anti-imperialisme.

Ramadan er viden kjent som barnebarnet til grunnlegger av Det muslimske brorskap i Egypt, Hassan al-Banna. Han er idag den fremste eksponent for en modernisert, euro-islam, men det er ikke i en form der tro er blitt en privatsak.

Ramadan er født og oppvokst i Geneve. Han begynte tidlig å reise til land i den tredje verden, og søkte opposisjonelle kontakter. Særlig frigjøringsteologene i Latinamerika gjorde inntrykk. Faren var venn med Malcolm X.

Ramadan prefers to see the family legacy in terms of «Islamic socialism, which is neither socialist, nor capitalist, but a third way.» In this reading, his father’s friendship with Malcolm X is much more significant than any Saudi Arabian connection. This is why Ramadan was a popular speaker with African-American Muslims before his visa was revoked.

«Western Muslims and the Future of Islam» throws some light on Ramadan’s idea of «Islamic socialism,» an ideology, combining religious principles with anticapitalist, anti-imperialist politics, that goes back to the time of the Russian Revolution. (Libya’s strongman, Muammar el-Qaddafi, is one who claims to rule according to these principles.) The murderous tyranny to be resisted, in Ramadan’s book, is «the northern model of development,» which means that «a billion and a half human beings live in comfort because almost four billion do not have the means to survive.» For Ramadan, global capitalism, promoted by such institutions as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, is the «abode of war» (alam al-harb), for «when faced with neoliberal economics, the message of Islam offers no way out but resistance.»

Det har vært mye diskusjon om hva Ramdan står for. I dette intervjuet plasserer han seg klart i opposisjon til det bestående samfunn, og i en revolusjonær tradisjon. At han benytter jihad-retorikk om Verdensbanken og Pengefondet, er spesielt. Han uttaler seg i kategoriske termer – en totalavvisning av sekulære institusjoner på religiøst grunnlag. Slike åndelige sannheter har sjelden vært en venn av den liberale samfunnsorden, bemerker Buruma.

Gilles Kepel, a leading French scholar of Islam, describes in his book «The War for Muslim Minds» how Ramadan «reached out to make alliances with the far left, working a territory abandoned by his rivals» — rivals, that is, like André Glucksmann, once a Maoist, now a supporter of the war in Iraq. Kepel goes on to explain that Ramadan «exchanged his costume as the Muslim Youth’s spokesman — an outfit too tight to accommodate his ambitions and talent — for the garb of the universalist intellectual.» Just as Marxists claim a universal validity for their political ideology, Ramadan says he believes that religious principles, as revealed in the Koran, are universal. It was as a universalist that Ramadan promoted the right of Muslim women to wear the veil at French schools. «Rights are rights,» he said, «and to demand them is a right.»

Dette virker som en sammenblanding av den religiøse og sekulære sfære. Skal religionens krav og sannheter ha forrang fremfor og overstyre det verdslige? Betyr det at religionen skal være politisk? Slik kan det virke.

«Whatever your faith,» he explained to me, «you are dealing with your fundamental principles. The message of Islam is justice. The neoliberal order leads to injustice. The point is to extract universal principles from one’s faith, but in politics it has to be a personal decision. The danger of my discourse in France is that I’m telling people to be citizens. Muslims are still treated as aliens. I’m telling them to vote.»

Dobbelthet

Ramdan kom med et angrep på franske intellektuelle, som alle var jøder og anklaget dem for å ha sviktet universelle prinsipper til fordel for sin egen «stamme» og Israel. Artikkelen slo tilbake på ham selv, for folk som Glucksmann og Bernard-Levy og Finkielkraut har engasjert seg sterkt for muslimene i Bosnia og tsjetsjenerne. Ramadan er også sterkt pro-palestinsk og anti-sionistisk. Men det er ikke det som gjør europeiske intellektuelle skeptiske til ham, skriver Buruma.

The main reason his European critics, Jews or non-Jews, have turned against Islam, and political Islam in particular, is not Israel so much as a common fear that secularism is under threat. That fear is coupled with a deep disillusion, in the wake of failed Marxist dictatorships, with the kind of anticolonial leftism that Ramadan now promotes in the name of universal principles rooted in the heart of Islam. As Denis MacShane put it to me, «Ramadan repudiates core European principles that developed from Galileo to gay marriages.»

What enrages former or current progressives is the apparent paradox that lies at the heart of Ramadan’s political rhetoric. On global capitalism he speaks like a 1968 left-wing student revolutionary, but on social affairs he can sound like the illiberal conservatives whom those students opposed. In American terms, he is a Noam Chomsky on foreign policy and a Jerry Falwell on social affairs. One of Ramadan’s fiercest critics in France, Caroline Fourest, fears that he has long-term plans to challenge European secularism through religious bigotry. She told me over the phone that she considered Ramadan «more dangerous than the obvious extremists, precisely because he sounds more reasonable.» The question of women is key to this.

Et svakt utgangspunkt altså – å skulle gjenopplive 68-drømmene, og samtidig være stokk konservativ i sosiale, moralske spørsmål, som homofili og feminisme. Hvordan er det i det hele tatt mulig å bli en stor stjerne med et slikt «program»? Det sier vel også sitt om tidsånden at Ramadan har vært i Norge uten å bli møtt med slike spørsmål, men får legge ut om sitt syn.

Religionen bestemmer

The question is how far secular society should be pushed to accommodate Islamic principles. «We are in favor of integration,» Ramadan says in a recorded speech, «but it is up to us to decide what that means. … I will abide by the laws, but only insofar as the laws don’t force me to do anything against my religion.» A Muslim must be able to practice and teach and «act in the name of his faith.» If any given society should take this right away, he continues, «I will resist and fight that society.» There is some ambiguity here. What does it mean to act in the name of one’s faith? In 1993 he was against the performance of «Fanaticism, or Mahomet the Prophet,» a play by Voltaire, in Geneva, saying it «would be another brick in the edifice of hatred and rejection.» And yet he is careful not to call for violence or legal bans. As in the case of the Danish cartoons lampooning Islam, he prefers to use such words as «respect» or «tact.»

Ramadan appellerer til den nye generasjonen muslimer som har utdannelse og streber mot og vil tilhøre middelklassen. For dem er respekt viktig.

Olivier Roy, perhaps France’s greatest authority on Islam, says that the matter of respect, what he calls «the discourse of dignity,» is Ramadan’s greatest appeal to his followers. I asked Roy in a telephone interview recently who Ramadan’s main followers were. «Not the first generation of immigrants,» he replied, «and certainly not the fundamentalists. The poor in the French suburbs don’t care about him, either. He appeals to people of the second generation, who have a college or university education but do not feel fully integrated. They are the would-be middle class, and for them the discourse of respectability, of dignity, is very important.»

Tariq Ramadan Has an Identity Issue

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