On the principle of “we read this reactionary crap so you don’t have to”, Islamophobia Watch has invested in a copy of Brother Tariq, the English language edition of Caroline Fourest’s attack on Tariq Ramadan, recently published by the right-wing Tory think-tank the Social Affairs Unit.
The book’s jacket features accolades from Peter Tatchell and Joan Smith. Tatchell poses the rhetorical question: “Is Tariq Ramadan an Islamic liberal or a clever Islamist strategist who uses the language of liberalism to disguise a fundamentalist agenda?” Fourest’s book, of course, comes down firmly in favour of the latter, and in recommending it Tatchell clearly does too. Smith, for her part, tells us that “political Islam, catalogued in this book in forensic detail, loathes the modern world” and recommends Fourest’s anti-Ramadan polemic as “an essential guide to decoding Islamist rhetoric, exposing the political project which lies behind contrived controversies such as the veil”.
As we have pointed out before, attacks on Professor Ramadan as a dangerous extremist are a sure sign that Islamophobia has reached the point where it has waved goodbye to any semblance of rational thought. So it is hardly surprising that Tatchell and Smith have joined the anti-Ramadan campaign.
But our primary concern here is with the new introduction to this Social Affairs Unit edition of Fourest’s book, contributed by Denis MacShane. MacShane’s misrepresentation of Tariq Ramadan’s views is so disgraceful that Ramadan might be advised to consider the possibility of legal action.
MacShane accuses Professor Ramadan of “the ‘double discourse’ that rightly condemns the perpetrators of the 7/7 attacks in London, but does not condemn those who prepare suicide-bomb terrorists to kill Jewish children and women in the Middle East…. To say the murder of a Christian woman or child on the London Tube is to be deplored, but the murder of a Jewish child or a mother on a Tel Aviv bus is not to be condemned with equal rigour, is to enter a moral universe that all decent people should shun.”
We might note in passing that MacShane himself, a prominent figure in Labour Friends of Israel, inhabits a moral universe in which the deaths of Palestinian and Lebanese women and children at the hands of Zionist state terrorism provoke significantly less indignation than the far smaller number of Israeli deaths that have resulted from suicide bombings by the Palestinian resistance. But, more to the point, what is Tariq Ramadan’s actual position on this issue?
Here is Professor Ramadan speaking to Aziz Zemouri (Faut-il faire taire Tariq Ramadan?, p.300):
“First of all, on the general level, I consider that the resistance of the Palestinian people is legitimate and that it is based on the demand for the respect of their rights. I consider that it is necessary to distinguish between the objectives of that resistance and its methods, for the legitimacy of ends does not automatically imply the legitimacy of means. In this case, the targeting of children, women and innocent people should be condemned; it is not a legitimate method. Certainly, the situation of the Palestinian people, oppressed and abandoned by the international community, allows us to explain these methods of resistance; that does not mean they are justifiable.”
Like many Islamophobes, MacShane likes to pose as a defender of the Enlightenment. However, a commitment to the study of objective evidence rather than a reliance on unsubstantiated dogma is evidently one Enlightenment value that MacShane has yet to come to grips with.
But what can you expect from a man who played a leading role in producing the ridiculous 2006 report by the All-Party Parliamentary Committee on Anti-Semitism which featured the fraudulent claim that an alliance has been formed between Islamism and the far Right, directed against the Jewish community? (Whereas, in reality, what we are seeing is the far Right bidding for support within the Jewish community on an anti-Muslim platform.)
MacShane has produced a book based on the All-Party Parliamentary Committee’s report, to be published later this year as The New Anti-Semitism. So that will be one more piece of reactionary crap we’ll probably have to read.