MWU interviews Tariq Ramadan

MWU's Ahmed Nassef scores an exclusive interview with Tariq Ramadan. To get a taste for his moderation, here's one Q and A about the French ban on headscarves:

MWU!: Explain the differences in how the hijab controversy is viewed in Europe as opposed to the US. In France, it seems that most liberal and progressive non-Muslims very much support the law and see it as a protection of secularism.

Tariq Ramadan: Actually, this is an especially French phenomenon, because of the country's very specific history. When you look at the 1905 Reference Law, you find that there is no problem for Muslims to live as Muslims in France. We say that France should just implement this law and enforce it strictly and equally. But this new law is a step backward. In 1989, the State Council said there is nothing in the scarf which is against secularism. We have to be careful about those using secularism as an ideology, confusing secularism with no religion at all. The atmosphere in France is very passionate, as if we are touching the sense of French identity. Becaue there are more than 5 million Muslims in France, their presence raises questions about the future identity of the country. But if you go to other European countries, the scarf is less of an obsession.

I should point out that my position on the headscarf ban is more conservative than Ramadan's, in that I think it's a trampling of free expression. But my position is informed by my American identity, and my belief in the Bil of Rights (notable the First Amendment), which does not strictly exist in Europe. As Ramadan points out, Europe (and esepcially France) have a different concept of identity. Ramadan's work generally addresses Muslims in the West but his focus is on Europe, whereas my focus is on America. I respect his position therefore and concede that the headscarf ban may be acceptable to European muslims on the basis of French identity, but I'd be against it if it happenned here.


MikeNargizian said...

The Bill of Rights doesn't guarantee that you can't take a Driver's License picture with your face completely covered though.
In fact the right to drive is a state given privilege you can lose.
The fact that states are giving in to this demand is going to push it too far and you'll get a backlash here as well.
What I find amazing is how noone picks up on the fact that a bunch of Islamist Terrorists kidnapped some French citizens to try and influence French Law and policy. The lines "terrorism" are being more and more shattered and fortunately or unfortantely I don't think its a train that can be stopped. School kids yesterday.
And France is bending over backwards. Don't think they can blame the Israeli 'Oppression' for that one, as much as they may want to.

You note that America guarantees the right to freedom of religion and there would be a notably different reaction to such a proposed law. Ameerica also has more of a religious background as well than France.
Notably different about America as well is what America's reaction would be to the French situation.
If that happened to America, there'd be no debate on it, guarantee you that.
Oh, how "un-nuanced" we are?


Dan said...

I'm actually somewhat curious about the whole Tariq Ramadan thing. I haven't been following it all that closely, so is there anyone that Aziz or somebody else wants to write up a quick primer on the situation as it now stands?