Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Arab Spring and Islamism

The world should recognize in Tariq Ramadan the successor to the late Edward Said. Humble yet learned academics, stressing the noble nature of Islam, and the misunderstanding of the West in not acknowledging its true status as a religion of peace and justice for all in the great brotherhood of humankind. We have but to relax and welcome Islam into our daily lives.

Bit by bit we will become accustomed to it. Tariq Ramadan has taken up where Edward Said left off. Normalizing Islam in the minds of those who view it with suspicion. Learning to accept the inevitable, and do it with good grace. The war has been won, in a sense. For one great segment of Western society has adapted and fulsomely welcomed Islam in all its glory to take its place where it belongs.

That portion of society is the accepting, tolerant, equivalent-value-recognizing one of the left in the halls of academia, politics, society, public-service unions and the public education system. Which understands, to their great mind-liberating credit that one must not judge lest ye be judged. Which recognizes that values are not so much universal in nature, but cultural in advantage.

There are no absolutes, merely points of view. And Tariq Ramadan is lecturing to the initiated and smugly accepting that there is no need to fear Islamism, for there is no such thing. There is Islam, and Islam, the original Salafist, Sharia-expounding Islam must be welcomed wholeheartedly, for it is authentic and noble.

And Islam, contrary to what its detractors claim does value freedom, democracy, universal suffrage, individual rights and justice for all equally. "These are not Islamist uprisings, but the great majority of the people asking for dignity, justice, freedom and democracy are Muslims. The Muslims in the Middle East share with us in the West the same values."

This is the Arab Spring explained. For the elucidation of skeptics and doubters who see the Muslim Brotherhood lurking behind dark shadows, with the bright young idealistic faces of young Muslims out in the open sunshine, as facades. This professor of contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University patiently, good-humouredly leads the doubters to revelation.

It is the Egyptian military, for example, with its close alliance to the corrupted influence of the United States, that is holding Egypt back from its full expression as a burgeoning, budding democracy offering freedom of expression to its people. The Muslim Brotherhood is an honourable group of scholars wishing to bring Islam back to its glory days in the purity of authentic Islam.

The apprehensions and fear about the Muslim Brotherhood is a device to instill suspicion in the West, one laid by the Arab dictators to maintain control of their populations and to remain in power in direct violation of their peoples' rights. It was not the Brotherhood that controlled the Arab Spring uprisings, but they aspire to assist the people to attain their goals of equality and liberty.

Mr. Ramadan, world-renowned scholar, respected interlocutor, has inherited a burden which he feels determined to discharge to best advantage. His grandfather initiated the Muslim Brotherhood, and his father was of vital importance in setting up Muslim Brotherhood branches while in exile in Europe. Now the sceptre is in Tariq's hands, his to hold impressively high.

He has his detractors, those who believe him to represent a messenger to the West for the Muslim Brotherhood, to dispel suspicion and fear, to lull the suspicious into acceptance and open-minded complicity with the gentle spread of Sharia, for this is a good thing and all good things should be embraced.

He, Ramadan, is the "charming face" of European Islamism, said Salim Mansur, political scientist at University of Western Ontario. He, Ramadan, is "the darling of the world Islamist establishment", who "camouflages his Islamist agenda under the niqab of ambivalent doublespeak", says Tarek Fatah, founding member of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

Consider the source of his support: the Islamic Society of North America, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. And the Muslim Association of Canada, whose website claims roots that are traced to the Muslim Brotherhood, that it "strives to implement Islam ... as understood in its contemporary context by the late Imam, Hassan Al-Banna."

None other than Tariq's grandfather. Confidence and obligation take a circuitous route to success.

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