Daniel Pipes on Tariq Ramadan: Why French literacy still matters

Readers of my previous comment on Tariq Ramadan will no doubt have come away with the impression that I don’t much like Daniel Pipes. This is not an entirely accurate assessment of my opinon of him. I think Pipes is an unreconstructed bigot and xenophobic fanatic whose academic work fails to meet even the lowest standards of scholarship, whose career has been built on politically driven attacks, and who has set up with his “Campus Watch” as a terrorist front designed to intimidate academics and ensure that there is as little debate, discussion or rational thought on Israel, US foreign policy or Islam as possible. His reseach and scholarship are not intended to better inform action but to support specific agendas, usually revolving around hating some foreign force or people. Instead of fostering debate, his work is intended to intimidate. Pipes advocates religiously targetted surveillance, he supports making federal university funding conditional on ideology, and he has helped to terrorise professors who are named on his website. In short, I think Pipes is swine.

He is a second generation right-wing tool, the son of one of the men most responsible for America’s “Team B”, which grossly overblew the Soviet menace in the 70s and 80s – causing massive US defense spending and resulting deficits – and complained that anyone with a better sense of reality was soft on communism. Normally, Pipes’ parentage would constitute poor grounds for condeming him as having a pathological relationship to facts. But keep this in mind, since it constitutes one of his arguments against Ramadan.

All you need is Google to find out why I think these things about Daniel Pipes. It’s not a lot of work. His own website provides ample examples.

But, today, I will be targeting something a little more specific. Pipes has put up on his website his comment on Tariq Ramadan’s visa denial, originally published in the New York Post on Friday. In it, he makes specific points against Tariq Ramadan, linking, in some cases, to articles on the web in support. These articles are primarily in French. As a service to our non-francophone readers, we will be translating the relevant sections, since they lead one to the conclusion that Pipes assumes his readers will just take his word on their contents.

We report, you decide.

First, Pipes’ claims:

Of course, Mr. Ramadan dismisses the revocation as “unjustified” and due to “political pressure.” He even blames me for the DHS decision.

What’s up? The DHS knows much more than I do, but it is not talking. A review of the press, however, gives an idea of what the problem is. Here are some reasons why Mr. Ramadan might have been kept out:

  • He has praised the brutal Islamist policies of the Sudanese politician Hassan Al-Turabi. Mr. Turabi in turn called Mr. Ramadan the “future of Islam.”
  • Mr. Ramadan was banned from entering France in 1996 on suspicion of having links with an Algerian Islamist who had recently initiated a terrorist campaign in Paris.
  • Ahmed Brahim, an Algerian indicted for Al-Qaeda activities, had “routine contacts” with Mr. Ramadan, according to a Spanish judge (Baltasar Garz?n) in 1999.
  • Djamel Beghal, leader of a group accused of planning to attack the American embassy in Paris, stated in his 2001 trial that he had studied with Mr. Ramadan.
  • Along with nearly all Islamists, Mr. Ramadan has denied that there is “any certain proof” that Bin Laden was behind 9/11.
  • He publicly refers to the Islamist atrocities of 9/11, Bali, and Madrid as “interventions,” minimizing them to the point of near-endorsement.

And here are other reasons, dug up by Jean-Charles Brisard, a former French intelligence officer doing work for some of the 9/11 families, as reported in Le Parisien:

  • Intelligence agencies suspect that Mr. Ramadan (along with his brother Hani) coordinated a meeting at the H?tel Penta in Geneva for Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy head of Al-Qaeda, and Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh, now in a Minnesota prison.
  • Mr. Ramadan’s address appears in a register of Al Taqwa Bank, an organization the State Department accuses of supporting Islamist terrorism.

Then there is the intriguing possibility, reported by Olivier Guitta, that Osama bin Laden studied with Tariq’s father in Geneva, suggesting that the future terrorist and the future scholar might have known each other.

Ramadan denies all ties to terrorism, but the pattern is clear. As Lee Smith writes in The American Prospect, he is a cold-blooded Islamist whose “cry of death to the West is a quieter and gentler jihad, but it’s still jihad.”

These reasons explain why Americans should thank DHS for keeping Tariq Ramadan out of America.

Let us start with his claim that Ramadan “blames [Pipes] for the DHS decision.” Following Pipes’ link:

Tariq Ramadan, persona non grata aux Etats-Unis

[…] Comme la presse am?ricaine, l’intellectuel musulman genevois pense que des pressions sont ? l’origine de cette d?cision politique.

Et de mentionner Le Chicago Tribune qui cite Daniel Pipes, responsable de Campus watch, un site qui surveille les universit?s am?ricaines sur ce qui est dit ? propos du conflit isra?lo-palestinien.

?Daniel Pipes, rappelle Tariq Ramadan, a d’ailleurs d?clar? qu’il voulait s’opposer ? ma venue aux Etats-unis.? […]

Like the American press, the native Genevan Muslim intellectual thinks that there is [political] pressure behind this political decision.

Not to mention the Chicago Tribune which quotes Daniel Pipes, operator of Campus Watch, a website that monitors American universities for what gets said there about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Daniel Pipes,” Ramadan notes, “did declare that he opposed me coming to the US.” […]

Now, reading this, one gets the additional claim that Daniel Pipes name came up first in the Chicago Trib, and that the reporter for Swissinfo probably asked him specifically about Pipes. Ramadan did not blame Pipes, he merely points out that Pipes was opposed to letting him into the US to teach. This is not something Pipes is exactly going out of his way to deny.

Perhaps Pipes is just applying selective reading on this one, seeing claims that aren’t there. Perhaps his French isn’t really so good as to catch such subtleties. If it happened only once, we might let it slide. But this careful misreading of the French language press is hardly isolated.

Moving on: [Ramadan] has praised the brutal Islamist policies of the Sudanese politician Hassan Al-Turabi. Mr. Turabi in turn called Mr. Ramadan the “future of Islam.”

I have not been able to find out what Ramadan actually said about al-Turabi. I have found a reference to him quoting something Turabi once said in a positive light. Nor have I found where Turabi said such nice things about Ramadan, although it is in line with what I have read of him. I’ll bet that Pipes does not know what Ramadan said either. He almost certainly got the claim from Olivier Cl?ment, a French theologian who doesn’t much like Ramadan’s growing popularity.

In light of the current debate over Sudan, this area is worth exploring in some depth.

Hassan al-Turabi is one of the intellectual figures behind the transformation of Sudan in the 1980’s from a dysfunctional military state to a somewhat less dysfunctional but far from great Islamist one, although it is not clear how much of a role he had. He has a French law degree and is explicitly devoted to the project of developping workable Islamic legal codes. He ran the NIF, which was the third largest party in Sudan’s 1986 elections. Human Rights Watch blames him for creating a police state in Sudan in the aftermath of the 1989 military coup and for opening the doors to Osama bin Laden and Carlos the Jackal.

But, there are some missing elements in this account. Al-Turabi was tossed in prison in 1989 by the author of the coup. He was released several years later when he agreed to cooperate with the military government. He was made speaker of the parliament in Sudan in 1996. Around this time, the Sudanese government turned Carlos the Jackal over to France, and claims that it offered to turn bin Laden over to the US. Bin Laden was kicked out of Sudan in ’96. Later, the US bombed an asprin factory in Khartoum.

Al-Turabi then got tossed back into prison for opposition to the government. He is still in prison. He is closely linked to some of the rebels in Darfur – you know, the ones that the government-backed militia is trying to wipe out. If the developed world intervenes in Sudan, Turabi is going to be our ally, and he is the guy most likely to profit from it.

In his writings, al-Turabi is committed to Islamic law, but only in those parts of Sudan with Islamic majorities, and only to a limited degree. He favours the Islamisation of banking. He favours good relations with Christian institutions. He favours good relations within the Islamic community. He favours communitarian private law, e.g. letting non-Muslims have non-Islamic family courts. He does not believe in banning alcohol in the non-Muslim south. He does not like the US much, but I have not found anything he’s actually written where he talks about an anti-US jihad.

These are not all positions that are compatible with the western conception of religion and the state. They are certainly not my positions. But, they are hardly radical “Death to the West” Islamicism. Al-Turabi is a politician. Perhaps he says other things at different times. I am not trying to defend him as a saint. Still, this leads me to suspect that he is not quite so one-sided a figure. This 1994 interview.in particular paints a much more nuanced picture of al-Turabi. Although I do not agree with much of its content, and I suspect that the glowing picture it paints of Sudan is perhaps coloured by al-Turabi’s own relationship with the state at the time, it does not sound especially extremist to me. Certainly, I would have to ask whether an endorsement of some element of al-Turabi’s thought really constitutes grounds for condemnation.

Next: Mr. Ramadan was banned from entering France in 1996 on suspicion of having links with an Algerian Islamist who had recently initiated a terrorist campaign in Paris.

Pipes has the year wrong. It was 1995. I was in France on business at the time. The Algerian FIS was leaving bombs on French railway tracks, and Charles Pasqua, the interior minister, closed the borders and set up inspections and paperwork checks at all entry points to France. This is allowed by EU law in cases of national emergency. Pasqua forbade a great many people from entering France at the time. All manner of Muslims – almost anyone with a connection to terrorism, no matter how faint – was forbidden from entering the country. Pasqua’s emergency powers enabled him to do so without having to show any evidence or cause.

Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna. That is a connection to terrorism, enough to put him on a hastily constructed, evidence-free list of people temporarily blocked from entering France. It is not, however, a sign of culpability or risk. That is the nature of emergency power, under French law and generally elsewhere: It is arbitrary, but temporary. When the emergency had passed, no evidence to pursue Ramadan or continue to prevent him from entering was put forward. Pasqua’s measure was paranoid, just as US border policy after 9/11 was paranoid. Would you like to be judged based on whether or not you were subject to extra inspections at the airport in September of 2001?

Pasqua is not really beloved in France. He is remembered for very xenophobic immigration policies. That is one of the reasons this claim against Ramadan is so rarely repeated in the French press.

Onwards:

Ahmed Brahim, an Algerian indicted for Al-Qaeda activities, had “routine contacts” with Mr. Ramadan, according to a Spanish judge (Baltasar Garz?n) in 1999.

Djamel Beghal, leader of a group accused of planning to attack the American embassy in Paris, stated in his 2001 trial that he had studied with Mr. Ramadan.

[…]

And here are other reasons, dug up by Jean-Charles Brisard, a former French intelligence officer doing work for some of the 9/11 families, as reported in Le Parisien:

  • Intelligence agencies suspect that Mr. Ramadan (along with his brother Hani) coordinated a meeting at the H?tel Penta in Geneva for Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy head of Al-Qaeda, and Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh, now in a Minnesota prison.
  • Mr. Ramadan’s address appears in a register of Al Taqwa Bank, an organization the State Department accuses of supporting Islamist terrorism.

I’ve grouped these together because they are all covered in the same Le Parisien article.

Jean-Charles Brisard is a former French intelligence officer and the author of Forbidden Truth: U.S.-Taliban Secret Oil Diplomacy, Saudi Arabia and the Failed Search for bin Laden, (Bin Laden, la verité interdite) in which he blames the Bushes for failing to pursue Al Qaeda and bin Laden because it interfered with oil interests. As much as I would like to credit that thesis, I can not do so without serious reservations. I do have to wonder, however, what Bush appointee Daniel Pipes thinks of Brisard’s other work.

The main claim against Brisard’s book is that his sources are somewhat mysterious and confirmation of his key claims- particularly about the Bush administration actively suppressing investigations into Al Qaeda – has not been forthcoming. If we take Brisard at his word, we must conclude that Daniel Pipes himself works for Al Qaeda’s supporters in the Bush administration, making him a terrorist by his own standard.

Brisard is the only source of the claim that intelligence services were looking into Ramadan, a claim which, even if true, would hardly be damning. Paranoia abounded after 9/11, even in Europe, and Ramadan is a public Islamic intellectual. However, given the lack of public charges or confirmation even of the claim that people were looking into Ramadan, it reaches the point where one suspects that this is a conviction on fourth-hand hearsay. Brisard is also the sole source of the claim that Ramadan met with al-Zawahiri – bin Laden’s right hand man – in 1991. Ramadan denies ever meeting al-Zawahiri, and no corroboration has turned up.

However, in the name of honest reporting, let me translate the relevant section of the Le Parisein article:

Two insignificant conversations

Furthermore, the Muslim intellectual’s [Ramadan’s] name has been cited in several terrorist trials. As part of a Spanish investigation into an Al-Qaeda cell, he was designated as one of the “habitual contacts” of Ahmed Brahim, a man believed to be one of Al-Qaeda’s treasurers who was found guilty by Judge Garzon. His name appeared during a telephone conversation on 22 April 199, of which we have a copy, between Ahmed Brahim and a manager at the Tawhid bookstore in Lyon, which publishes Tariq Ramadan’s books. The conversation concerns the acquisition of blank audio cassettes and the invitation of young Frenchmen to Majorca to “work in the path of Allah.” The Swiss intellectual was also cited in the French trial of a group suspected of planning an attack on the US embassy. Djamel Beghal, believed to be the head of the network, claimed on 1 October 2001 before Judge Jean-Louis Brugui?re that: “In 1994, I took some courses taught by Tarek Ramadan [sic]” Ramadan’s response: “I don’t know Ahmed Brahim. My name came up as a digression in two insignificant conversations… Furthermore, I didn’t start giving courses in Paris until 1997.” Another element to consider: According to research by the lawyers of World Trade Center victims, the address of the Ramadan family appears in the files of the Al-Taqwa bank, which is on a list of organisations accused by the US State Department of supporting Islamist terrorism. And, a new denial by Tariq Ramadan: “We have never had any relationship with that bank.”

A number of indicators

One last item from intelligence services: Tariq Ramadan and his brother arranged a meeting in 1991 in a Geneva hotel attended by Ayman al-Zawahiri, currently no. 2 man in Al-Qaeda, and Omar Abdel Rahman. What has Ramadan to say about these “dangerous” connections. “I have never met those people.” The many denials leave Jean-Charles Brisard cold. “There are today a number of indicators to suspect that Tariq Ramadan has been connected to several terrorists”, he concludes. “He has separated himself from the Muslim Brotherhood, but he shares their heritage. Under the cover of moderate statements, he exudes a radical discourse that may encourage jihad.”

I hope that by now you are saying to yourself, “What the hell is this!? This is all that Pipes has?!? He links to this article in support of his very serious charges? Two terrorists drop Ramadan’s name in unrelated phone calls? One claims to have taken one of Ramadan’s classes once, but gives a year when he couldn’t possibly have done so? Ramadan may have been investigated by French intelligence at one time? The name and address of a promenent Geneva Muslim appears in the files – probably just the mailing list – of a Geneva based Islamic bank? Hearsay from the guy who has been passing around radical conspiracy theories about how Bush is responsible for 9/11?!? Does Pipes think we’re that stupid?”

No, probably not. But he probably does think that his Anglophone audience mostly can’t read French and won’t check up by following the links. His remaining two points – the ones with links – certainly lead me to think so:

Along with nearly all Islamists, Mr. Ramadan has denied that there is “any certain proof” that Bin Laden was behind 9/11.

Let’s follow the link. It goes to an interview for La Gruy?re, a local newspaper in Fribourg, Switzerland. And indeed, the very first question is about whether or not Ramadan think bin Laden is responsible for 9/11:

Q: Is bin Laden really the person most responsible for the recent attacks on New York?

A: So far, investigators have not put forward any clear or definitive proof of his guilt. The likelihood is very great, but some questions remain unanswered: the difference between the extreme sophistication in the build-up to the attack and the accumulation of mistakes afterwards is impressive. Why leave so many tracks and never claim responsibility for the attacks? There are still too many incoherent things about it to be able to definitively designate who is responsible. But whoever it is, bin Laden or someone else, we need to find them and prosecute them.

Now, Ramadan is saying that it seems most likely that bin Laden is responsible for 9/11. However, his hesitation to blame bin Laden might, after all this time, well be considered an indication of an unwillingness to face reality. But, before jumping to that conclusion, scroll down to the very end of the webpage with the interview. You will see, on the last line of the page, the following words:

Propos recueillis par Nicolas Geinoz / 22 septembre 2001

Interview by Nicolas Geinoz / 22 September 2001

That’s right, Pipes is citing, to support his claim that Ramadan is a wacky Al-Qaeda denier, an interview that took place all of eleven days after the attacks! I was busy that week looking for an appartment in Belgium, but if I recall correctly, even the US government wasn’t casting blame beyond a shadow of a doubt at that early date, and certainly wasn’t showing any evidence to the public. Despite Ramadan’s hesitation to fix blame so very early on when he only knew what everyone knew from the TV coverage, he nonetheless says that bin Laden is probably responsable.

Pipes is really reaching. I can only imagine that either he never read the interview to the end himself – and never checked either at the bottom or in the URL itself when he typed it in – or he simply thinks you are too stupid too look for the date of the interview.

Lastly: [Ramadan] publicly refers to the Islamist atrocities of 9/11, Bali, and Madrid as “interventions,” minimizing them to the point of near-endorsement.

Again, the actual context suggests that Mr Pipes assumes no one who reads him knows French. The webpage is, again, an interview in French conducted by the French newsmagazine Le Point, a mainstream, largely centrist journal. It was published on 22 April 2004, so unlike the previous interview, one can assume it more closely represents Ramadan’s current thinking. The question asked only makes sense in light of the rest of the interview, so I’ve had to change it somewhat to include as much of the context as possible. I assure you that it is reasonably faithful to the original intent, even if it is not the original words exactly. Ramadan’s response, however, is my best effort at an accurate translation:

Q: [Is the sort of paternalism the Islamic world widely feels coming from the West serious enough to] justify terrorism?

A: From the suburbs of France to Muslim society, you will find no support, except for some miniscule amount, for the actions in New York, Bali or Madrid. We must not confuse the Iraqi and Palestinan resistance movements with pro-bin Laden acts.

Now, the underlined word is interventions in the original French. This is a relatively neutral word, as Pipes claims, but no more so than actions. This seems like a stylistically appropriate word choice to me. We would hardly take to task an American commentor for refering to the events of 9/11 as “Al-Qaeda’s actions in New York.”

But Pipes goes one step further – probably sensing that he has nothing but weak bullshit here – and says that Ramadan is “minimizing [those terrorist attacks] to the point of near-endorsement.” I am hard-pressed to see the “near-endorsement” here. Now that you have a translation in front of you, I leave it to you to try to discern one. I see no interpretation of the original French which supports Pipes. I have to imagine that he thinks he can wow his audience by leading them to think he has more insight into the nuances of French than they do.

Next point: Pipes considers the possibilty that Osama bin Laden studied in Geneva with Ramadan’s father. Note that this claim is much more hedged. Perhaps it is because the article he links to is in English?

The article, appearing in The American Thinker (hint: It’s own About page says that it’s about a country, but that country is not America), contains several claims about Ramadan that Pipes knows full well are false, and doesn’t repeat them. Like the claim that Ramadan says that the Jews control the media. It also exaggerates several of Pipes’ claims so far beyond recognition that you want to ask for a footnote. Nothing is referenced, of course.

But this is about Pipes. Nowhere in the article does it actually suggest that Osama bin Laden studied in Geneva with anyone. All it says is the following:

Going to Saudi Arabia first, Said Ramadan [Tariq Ramadan’s father] was one of the founders of the World Islamic League, a Saudi charity organization, whose goal is to spread worldwide the Islamic faith. He then decided to move to Geneva, Switzerland in 1961, where he created the Islamic Center of Geneva. His philosophy helped build the minds of a lot of rich Muslim kids; one of them happened to be Osama Bin Laden.

No footnote, no further indication, nothing. Even in a journal with the standards of the National Enquirer, Pipes still has to make stuff up about what the articles he links to say.

But even still, just as it would be unfair to hold Pipes’ father’s politically motivated bad scholarship against him, how fair is it to blame Ramadan for his father and his brother? How fair is it to ask him to condemn his own family? Should I make Daniel Pipes say that his father’s assessment of the Soviet economy was a crock of shit?

Lastly:

Ramadan denies all ties to terrorism, but the pattern is clear. As Lee Smith writes in The American Prospect, he is a cold-blooded Islamist whose “cry of death to the West is a quieter and gentler jihad, but it’s still jihad.”

Yes, the pattern is clear. Regardless of what Ramadan thinks, he’s the subject of a snow job by Pipes. But, the American Prospect doesn’t decend quite to the level of the American Thinker. So let’s take a look at the article:

That Ramadan believes Islam will replace Judaism and Christianity may come as a surprise to those who thought he was just saying Islam is compatible with liberal values (it will certainly surprise the fathers at Notre Dame). Rather, Ramadan is a cold-blooded Islamist who believes that Islam is the cure for the malaise wrought by liberal values. His revision of the jihadist paradigm — peaceful but total — is brilliant in its way, and he may well turn out to be a major Islamist intellectual, far surpassing even his grandfather’s influence. His cry of death to the West is a quieter and gentler jihad, but it’s still jihad. There’s no reason for Western liberals to try to understand that point of view.

Lee Smith really isn’t impressing me here. The whole article is pretty doubtful. Unsourced, unfootnoted, poorly argued – it sounds a lot like its taken from tertiary sources. And, this paragraph is no exception. However, since Ramadan believes in Islam, it can hardly come as a grand surprise when he thinks Islam is better than other religions, or that a Westernised Islam might gain a lot of converts in the West. This is not different from the missionary beliefs of very mainstream Christians and is positively mild compared to the apocalyptic beliefs of the “Christian Zionists.” Ramadan is proposing a European Islam. I really cannot see how he can so clearly support such a thing, and at the same time put forward a “cry of Death to the West.”

Tariq Ramadan is a Muslim. He is a religious thinker. He believes that there is but one God, and Mohammed is his prophet. He does not believe in putting unbelievers to the sword. He doesn’t advocate killing Jews. He condemns terrorists. But, he is a Muslim. It seems very strange to condemn him for being at the same time a European Muslim, a moderate Muslim and still actually being a Muslim.

I am not a Muslim. I’m mostly indifferent to Mohammed. I figure God can take care of herself and has no need for me to be going around telling people what she thinks. But, I have to live on the same planet as a billion Muslims and somewhere between three and four billion monotheists. If we are incapable of listening to people who believe differently, and believe that they are right and we are wrong, there is little hope for any of us. Pulling this kind of mendacious crap on people for no better reason than that they think they are right advances no desireable cause.

Daniel Pipes thinks we’re all either to stupid or too scared to actually question the nonsense he passes off as scholarship. He relies on an American audience that is unable to check his sources, because when they do, they find out that Daniel Pipes is an empty suit.

This isn’t just about whether or not Tariq Ramadan is okay. It is about Daniel Pipes and his allies and how, should someone arise who might actually express themself in English and offer a counternarrative to their blantant hate speech, they feel compelled to slander them.

Pipes doesn’t just dislike Islam. He doesn’t just think that he is right and Muslims are wrong. There is a prospect for reconciliation when both sides merely think they are right. Pipes doesn’t like Muslims. He is a bigot. And for my American readers, don’t forget, this man has been appointed by your government to a public office.

Monolingualism has costs. Eugene Volokh, for example, has posted a link to Pipes’ piece but says that he does not know the facts of the case well enough to judge. Ted over at Crooked Timber makes the same claim to uncertainty. But, a cursory look at the French articles cited makes Pipes’ case worse than contestable – it’s embarrassing. There is no need to actually investigate Ramadan to know that Pipes cannot be trusted here. And remember, Pipes is George Bush’s man on Middle Eastern policy.

Never underestimate the value of knowing a foreign language. It might be the only way to know you’re being sold a bill of goods, or that a so-called scholar is a complete fraud.

70 thoughts on “Daniel Pipes on Tariq Ramadan: Why French literacy still matters

  1. What a marvelous, arrogant, intellectually dishonest, self-regarding display of hysterical assertion.

    I was actually uncertain about this Ramadan issue. Any time I can’t remember a person enough to keep him straight from other individuals with the same first name, I try to give that person the benefit of the doubt. I will admit I confused Ramadan with Tariq Ali initially. But this detailed rant gave me all the information I feel I need to pass judgment on Ramadan’s exclusion. My conclusion, from just the marginalia around this denunciation of Pipes? The exclusion is completely and comprehensively justified.

    Tell me again why I read this group blog? Oh, right. The other writers aren’t Martens. Thank the hypothetical absolute for that. Otherwise I’d drop this read for the same reasons I dropped Little Green Footballs.

  2. Oh, I am slain!

    Mitch has so mortally wounded me that I dare not blog again! I hang my head in shame at this eloquent, fact-by-fact refutation. I am humbled by your acumen. My self-esteem is destroyed by the rapier-like wit with which my arguments have been unravelled. Clearly, I shall have to rethink all that I hold dear after this devastating assault.

  3. Well done, Scott, congratulations for your patience (and translating skills).

    I’d nearly given up after reading Pipes’ incredible assertion that Garzon had accused Ramadan of talking directly with Algerian terrorists, which is not even in the Parisien article, indeed.

    Nevermind those who prefer to keep their blinders on. They’ll never let facts interferere with their assumptions.

    Isn’t it amazing, though? I mean, it doesn’t suprise me, but it is just impressive. Pipes would kick and scream if anyone threw at him even 1/10th of the unfounded claims he makes about Ramadan.

    I guess this honorable practice of baseless acusations is in the same vein as Hastert’s “we do know not if Soros got money from drug cartels”. Or the Swift Boaters, even. Just throw some mud around, some of it will always stick.

    The irony is, Pipes with his speculations about why the visa was denied is making the State Department and Homeland Security look like idiots. As if they were concerned with the semantics of “intervention” instead of “action” or “attack”. I conclude the real anti-american here must be Daniel Pipes himself. No Ramadan could possibly hate America more than someone suggesting that US intelligence services are seriously alarmed by neutral nouns.

  4. Well done, Scott, congratulations for your patience (and translating skills).

    I’d nearly given up after reading Pipes’ incredible assertion that Garzon had accused Ramadan of talking directly with Algerian terrorists, which is not even in the Parisien article, indeed.

    Nevermind those who prefer to keep their blinders on. They’ll never let facts interferere with their assumptions.

    Isn’t it amazing, though? I mean, it doesn’t suprise me, but it is just impressive. Pipes would kick and scream if anyone threw at him even 1/10th of the unfounded claims he makes about Ramadan.

    I guess this honorable practice of baseless acusations is in the same vein as Hastert’s “we do know not if Soros got money from drug cartels”. Or the Swift Boaters, even. Just throw some mud around, some of it will always stick.

    The irony is, Pipes with his speculations about why the visa was denied is making the State Department and Homeland Security look like idiots. As if they were concerned with the semantics of “intervention” instead of “action” or “attack”. I conclude the real anti-american here must be Daniel Pipes himself. No Ramadan could possibly hate America more than someone suggesting that US intelligence services are seriously alarmed by neutral nouns.

  5. Scott,

    if you want to see a bigot, look in the mirror. I can’t believe your lame attack on Pipes. Pipes is in fact a controversial figure, but because he is so, you might need to listen to him more and speak from your head, rather than your ass.

    Looney left liberals like you do a tremendous diservice to the liberal cause. Liberals are supposed to be intellectuals, not knee-jerk reactionaries. And in your case, I must emphasize the “jerk” part.

    Now go take your ritalin.

  6. Well, I just finished reading all of Scott’s rebuttal, and you have to be kidding me.

    A third grader could have done better. You dismiss sources as being “questionable” and “unsourced”, so we just have take Scott’s word that Tariq is a nice “moderate” muslim.

    Well, pipes is right. Err on the side of caution, and never give support to *any* Islamists, since Islamists seek to subvert the societies they live in. Islamists take the Koran as the word of God, and the Koran famously preaches death or conversion to the infidel (kufr).

    Tariq is no moderate, he is a wolf in sheeps clothing, and I am glad he got the boot.

    So, what does that make you Mr Marten… a Dhimmi?

    Regards.

  7. One last note for Mr Marten.

    The American Prospect is about as liberal a periodical as you can get here in the states, while Mr Pipes is pretty far to the right on all issues.

    The fact that they both agree that Mr Ramadan is a potential threat, should speak volumes.

    I’ve lived in the states now for four years, and I can tell that I have more or less learned to trust their judgement. Since 911, if you even have one mark on your record, you probably won’t be allowed to enter. When it comes to citizen safety, there is no country now more protective of its citizens than the US.

    They are being cautious. It is unfortunate that you don’t see it, but thank God you are not responsible for Policy. We would be having a 911 like event every week if you were.

    Regards, and I shall speak no more on this matter.

  8. If Pipes is a swine, Martens is a pig.

    I, too, come to this site for the other voices here. Martens’ bigotry only muddies up an otherwise interesting site.

  9. The comments above are perplexing: while Scott certainly does (rightly in my opinion, but debatably) say nasty things about Daniel Pipes, he also destroys the man’s article using strange things known as ‘facts’. Which apparently it’s OK to reject on ad-hominem grounds…

    For anyone less closed-minded, one of Pipes’ equally loathsome cronies is an Italian writer named Oriana Fallaci. I wrote a vaguely similar post about her fabrications and dishonesty last week…

  10. Oops. That should be “Pipes’ Ramadan article…” or “the Ramadan article…”.

  11. “Facts? Don’t bother me with facts!” seem to be the view of some of the commenters here.

    Excellent article Scott, and a real boon to have the French translated.

  12. I really appreciate the time you spent on this. I’m a little embarassed I couldn’t do better myself; not speaking a foreign language does hurt me sometimes. Good stuff, and I won’t be likely to give Pipes the benefit of the doubt again.

  13. Pipes bias is obvious to anyone who reads him with regularity. So there is nothing new here.

    But I do find Mr. Martens obsessions curious. “Actions” instead of “interventions”? Surely the point is the language in general. 9/11 was an atrocity and should be labeled as such.

    And lastly, Pipes is fair game, but Lee Smith? Mr Smith has lived and studied in the Middle East and knows more, I’m speculating, than Mr. Martens about Arabs and Islam. Not all publications require ‘footnotes’ and ‘sources’. This isn’t college.

    The only thing obvious this article has shown me is Mr. Martens enormous ego and arrogance.

  14. Tariq Ramadan had his rebutal to Daniel Pipes published in the Chicago Trib this morning.

    Between the two, the Chicago Tribune Editorial board weighs in in favor of Tariq Ramadan.

    But Scott’s take down of Pipes, once you got to the meat of his post, is a more complete and thorough discrediting than the Dewey-Defeats-Truman Chicago Tribune is capable of.

  15. And remember, Pipes is George Bush?s man on Middle Eastern policy.

    Almost missed that one. Are you going to prove that assertion Scotty? With footnotes and sources of course.

  16. Rupert,
    16 months ago, Daniel Pipes was nominated by George W. Bush to serve on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Institute of Peace.

    You might want to take an example from scott; before you start to take someone down, make sure you’ve got the goods on them first. Otherwise, it’s your own credibility that goes down.

  17. Judging by the rabid tone of comments outraged at Scott Martens for daring to check Pipes’s own sources, you’d nearly think Martens was Salman Rushdie, and Pipes was Mohammed. Or God himself.

    Why should God bother with facts, after all? It’s a matter of magic, and belief. Sim sala-bim, from his magic hat Pipes drew Ramadan the terrorist rabbit, and all the good children stood with their mouth open and said, aah, he really is a terrorist rabbit!

    John B: to be fair to Pipes, Fallaci is far, far more loathsome.

    She doesn’t bother with formalities and academic language, she goes straight for racist insults, as she is only after the controversy and ensuing book sales, not to mention she suffers from a ton more megalomania. She recently published “Fallaci interviews Fallaci”. No really. She interviewed, reviewed, and praised herself, speaking of herself in the third person (like Diego Maradona before rehab, just to give you an idea). At least Pipes is sane.

    I just wanted to add one thing: this is so not the first time Pipes takes liberties with sources, especially if they’re in a foreign language. Someone surely will remember the debate about rape statistics in Sweden as another instance of this practice, though it wasn’t as impressive as this.

  18. Rupert: But I do find Mr. Martens obsessions curious.

    How curious. But you don’t find Daniel Pipes’s curious obssesions with twisting facts a little bit curious?

    ?Actions? instead of ?interventions?? Surely the point is the language in general. 9/11 was an atrocity and should be labeled as such.

    Would “attacks” satisfy you, do you think it might satisfy the divine Pipes? Here you go, from Ramadan’s rebuttal in the Chicago Tribune:

    – Pipes distorts the facts by selective references. My post-Sept. 11 stance is clear. On Sept. 13, 2001, I put out an open letter to Muslims calling for them to unequivocally condemn these acts and wrote: “Do not hide yourself behind conspiracy theories: Even if we don’t know who did it, you know as I know that some Muslims can use Islam to justify killing an American, a Jew or a Christian only because he/she is an American, a Jew or a Christian; you have to condemn them and to condemn these attacks.” On Sept. 20, when investigations were still ongoing, I said: “The probability [of bin Laden’s guilt] is large, but some questions remain unanswered. … But whoever they are, bin Laden or others, it is necessary to find them and that they be judged.” –

    Alternatively, one could obtain the entirety of Ramadan’s writings, transfer them all to electronic form, and do a search for all synomims of “action”, “event”, “attack”, “acts”, that might be used to refer in matter-of-fact way to terrorist, er, acts. Then, draw a Microsoft Powerpoint chart detailing how often the neutral words were used compared to negative words, and from there, calculate Ramadan’s terrorist coefficient.

    I’m sure that is exactly what Homeland Security and the State Department did, to come up with the decision to revoke the visa.

    The only thing obvious this article has shown me is Mr. Martens enormous ego and arrogance.

    Absolutely. Haven’t you heard, having a fondness for checking someone’s claims about someone else is pure arrogance, and so is demanding the right to vote. When it’s time for elections, be humble and modest, and stay home.

  19. Actually, here is what Ramadan says about the outrageous use of the word “intervention” instead of act/action/attack/tragedy/atrocity/etc.:

    The term “interventions” was not mine, but was used by journalists in the French magazine Le Point (April 22, 2004) following a phone interview with me. I have always condemned the terrorist attacks in New York, Bali, Madrid and elsewhere in the strongest terms.

  20. 16 months ago, Daniel Pipes was nominated by George W. Bush to serve on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Institute of Peace.

    So this makes him ‘George Bush?s man on Middle Eastern policy.’? Try again.

    The USIOP mission statement includes the sentence ‘The United States Institute of Peace is an independent, nonpartisan federal institution created by Congress to promote the prevention, management, and peaceful resolution of international conflicts’. Keyword here is peaceful. If your assertion is that DP being on this board makes him George Bush’s Middle East point man, then he ain’t got much influence considering we just waged war there. And the board consist of many members. Wouldn’t that make them all GW’s point men/women.?

    Your rational is false as is his statement.

    How curious. But you don’t find Daniel Pipes’s curious obssesions with twisting facts a little bit curious?

    Perhaps you should read my first sentence in my original post. Pipes is biased. It’s old news.

    Absolutely. Haven’t you heard, having a fondness for checking someone’s claims about someone else is pure arrogance, and so is demanding the right to vote.

    Fisking someone is legitimate. But it’s all about style. You can critique someone with modesty or be a prick. He is, imo, the latter.

  21. Excellent! Haven’t seen anything quite like this since Richard Evans deconstructed David Irving’s pro-Nazi footnotes a few years ago.

  22. Just to clarify on Naomi’s point – I mentioned Fallaci’s looney tune views because I found out about her via an approving Daniel Pipes article. Even if he is saner than her, he’s clearly not sane enough to reject her outlook completely…

  23. You get some dog-rude visitors to your site, but it is noteworthy that they don’t have anything of substance to say. Thanks for going to the trouble.

  24. I don’t know what got into the water in the comment section here … did LGF link?

    In any case, good job checking Pipes.

    Muslim WakeUp is upset about the Tariq Ramadan thing, and thinks it will backfire.

  25. “[T]here are some missing elements in this account.”

    Indeed there are.

    “Al-Turabi was tossed in prison in 1989 by the author of the coup. He was released several years later when he agreed to cooperate with the military government.”

    He was not released “several years later”. He was released in 1990.

    In no way should his ties to the Darfur rebels his former colleagues in Khartoum are currently trying to exterminate absolve him from his own complicity in the persecution and enslavement of Christians and indigenous animists in Sudan’s south while he was in power.

    “In his writings, al-Turabi is committed to Islamic law, but only in those parts of Sudan with Islamic majorities, and only to a limited degree.”

    I think the key phrase here is “in his writings”. As I have just pointed out, the actions of the Khartoum regime while he was in power differ sharply from whatever ideals he may have espoused in speech or print.

    For what it’s worth, I think that Pipes is in need of a good and thorough fisking and that Ramadan deserves to be stuck up for. But Lee Smith is hardly worthy of your scorn. Check out his body of work on slate before you pass final judgment on him. And Hassan al-Turabi definitely does not deserve to be defended.

  26. I find your demolition of Pipes very convincing.

    I don’t, however, find your treatment of Lee Smith to be convincing at all. His point is distinct from Pipes, so I don’t think it really needs to be discussed in detail here, but I think it would be very interesting to discuss later.

    For example, the Jewish experience in Christian Europe is often discussed as a model for how Muslims will or will not integrate into Europe. But Jews do not have a conversion religion and never expected to become the dominant religious strain in Europe, while Muslims do. It’s an interesting question where Tariq Ramadan stands on this question, but I can’t judge for myself based only on Lee Smith’s statements. Perhaps, if you aren’t sick to death of this topic and the personal attacks, this might make a good follow-up article?

  27. John B: of course, you’re absolutely spot on, ideologically they’re rather close, they just have a different style, and different motives for supporting those views. My comment was to be taken with a pinch of sarcasm…

    The more palatable style and relative sanity of Pipes vs. Fallaci is just about where my ‘defense’ of Pipes starts and ends.

    Rupert: everyone is biased, the moment they have an opinion. In fact, the moment they are born. Your nationality, your language, your culture, they’ll add up to form some bias of some sort, which you can try and spend the rest of your life getting rid of, or even just balancing out a bit, but there is no completely unbiased and objective being in the world, except rocks, but they’re not alive.

    Bias and utter disregard for facts (coupled with utter intellectual dishonesty and mis-translations and selective quoting and outright fabrications), though, are still two different matters.

    I wouldn’t have a problem with Pipes arguing he just hates Ramadan’s views and ideas. I do have a problem with anyone accusing anyone of being a terrorist or terrorist partner or sponsor or advocate, if they draw their accusations out of thin air.

    Fisking someone is legitimate. But it?s all about style.

    Right, I forgot, style, not facts.

    You can critique someone with modesty or be a prick.

    Hm, why does that not apply to Pipes, given he’s the one who is making things up, whereas Martens, dislike his tone and “style” all you want, actually went through the sources and checked the details?

    Anyway, you should also try and read Ramadan’s rebuttal in the Chicago Tribune. It’s very, very stylish.

  28. I’m not interested in defending Pipes, who seems typically outlandish here. But as far as the visa revocation question goes, there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that it’s justified (which doesn’t mean it’s a good idea). In the very passage from the Le Point interview that Scott quotes above, Ramadan defends both the Iraqi and the Palestinian “resistance movements.” Considering the Iraqi resistance movement is killing American soldiers, that seems at least arguably to be working against American national security interests, one of the criteria for revocation. And advocating for the Palestinian resistance movement can again quite reasonably be construed as having offered a “public endorsement of acts of terrorist activity,” another criterion for revocation.

  29. Steve Carr: Considering the Iraqi resistance movement is killing American soldiers…

    Well if “defending” the Iraqi resistance is so terrible how much more terrible was the refusal of three US administrations to outlaw American funding and arming of the IRA while they were killing British troops? Or, the CIA supplying General The with explosives in the mid-50s to bomb civilians in Saigon.

    Don’t you just love being on the good side rather than with those evil ones?

    Nice story Scott, thanks. Those of us that can think have more things to ponder now.

  30. Steve, which specific passages are you referring to? I can only see two references to the Iraqi resistance in the Le Point interview.

    The first one, I translate as “From the French ghettoes to the Muslim States, you will not find support for the actions in New York, Bali or Madrid, apart from a tiny few. We should not confuse the Iraqi or Palestinian resistances with pro-Bin Laden action”.

    The second one, I’d translate as “One enormous difference [between “jihad” and BinLadenism] is that Iraq is considered as an occupied territory[1] – ard muthalla as the Arab television stations keep telling us – by a foreign force which is trying to impose democracy under their control. In the minds of the majority of Muslims, “jihad” and the Iraqi resistance have nothing in common with the spirit of Bin Laden’s partisans.”

    I don’t see how either passage can be considered to endorse either the Iraqi resistance or Palestinian terrorists, unless you take the Daniel Pipes line that every mention of Muslims must be accompanied by a loyalty oath ad condemnation.

    [1] “Occupied territory” obviously carrying the implication both of Iraq and the Israeli OTs

  31. Thank you Scott Martens, for your valuable work on this matter. I am nonplussed at the hostility of some of your commenters. Pipes dishonesty seems to me to deserve condemnation. His bigotry is well known to anyone who has paid attention to the Middle East for any length of time and it seems to me to be wrong to let it stand without comment.

  32. @Michael: “Steve Carr: Considering the Iraqi resistance movement is killing American soldiers…
    Well if “defending” the Iraqi resistance is so terrible how much more terrible was the refusal of three US administrations to outlaw American funding and arming of the IRA while they were killing British troops? Or, the CIA supplying General The with explosives in the mid-50s to bomb civilians in Saigon.
    Don’t you just love being on the good side rather than with those evil ones?”

    Are you sure you are without that inclination?

    I must admit that I never heard of this Pipes-guy. I do appreciate Scott’s effort to check Pipes’ sources and links but I can’t help feeling that the effort comes close to an attempt to completely run down the guy without trying to understand his point of view a little bit.
    The attacks at Scott here in the comments totally fail where “facts are encountered with style”, that kind of things, but we do not have all ultimate facts here either. (we will never have).
    Following a Dutch reference from Pipes site to one of the best (most conscientious) newspapers here in the Netherlands (Trouw) I got the impression that Piper is driven by the idea that there is a lot of denial of the mere existence of islamofacism. His appointment at the USIP was called a cruel hoax by the CAIR the same organization that was criticized strongly by Pipes, among other things on being financed by the Saudi’s.
    I found Irfan Khawaja of the history news network saying it much better then I can:
    “Pipes is neither the demon that his enemies have made of him, nor the savior that his champions have made him into. He is, on the one hand, an astute and courageous scholar of militant Islam who has said what needs to be said on that subject without worrying too much about winning popularity contests. On the other hand, however, he is an insensitive, careless, and unreliable journalist with a consistent pattern of exaggeration and misjudgment that he adamantly refuses to acknowledge or rectify. Both facts are real; neither should be ignored.”
    Go read the whole thing; Piper commented it too.

    The tragedy is that the denying and the exaggerating reinforce each other.
    This tragedy is so much more important than a more or less moderate muslim-scholar not getting a visa.
    Reading the debate here at Fistful and at HNN I get the idea there is way to much focus on details. Trying to prove the other side is wrong in stead of trying to convince.
    A silly example: in the last line of his comments on Irfan Khawaja Pipes point to an error by Khawala. Pipes was not nominated at April 4 but on April 1.
    The critics should aim at the huge errors in his writings. For example defending his support for the idea to support Saddam Houssein to encounter the greater evil of Khomeiny with a comparison with the cooperation with Stalin against Hitler.
    Or to the absurd suggestion on his own website concerning the Israel-Palestinian conflict where he suggests that the Palestinians (which ?) should surrender completely like Argentine surrendered to the Brits at the end of the Falkland war or else there can never be peace. Suggesting that the PLO or the Palestine authority could be compared with the Argentine government. As if indeed Arafat has total control over Hamas for example.

    To focus on Pipes defense of refusing a visa to Tariq Ramadan comes close to fueling the abovementioned greater tragedy.

  33. No offense, Frans, but if you’d never heard of “this Pipes-guy” before, how come you want to explain his “point of view”?

    “Reading the debate here at Fistful and at HNN I get the idea there is way to much focus on details.”

    Which is… bad? Good lord. We do have the facts here, Frans, insofar as specific claims about Ramadan are lifted from other sources, and Pipes is shown to be altering those claims and making up others of his own. Pipes is speculating wildly on the US reasons to revoke a visa by listing untruths, accusing Ramadan of being not just ideologically pro-terrorism, in his interviews and writings, which is an unfounded claim, but also accusing him of having direct liaisons with terrorists and even organising terrorist meetings, which again, is an unfounded claim.

    Opinions are about one’s preferences. But claims about facts can be verified. If instead of Ramadan, the subject of such a pathetic little smear had been … Pipes himself, well, maybe we’d hear a lot more people being outraged and start caring for facts, don’t you think? If it had been George W. Bush, heaven forbid…

    Khawaja, “Islamofascism”, Khomeini, Stalin, Hitler, have nothing to do with this, evne if you haven’t read a thing about Daniel Pipes before, you can simply go through his article, go through the posts here and at Crooked Timber, and then read Ramadan’s response in the Chicago Tribune.

    Or, if you were in a hurry, you could simply apply some basic common sense and ask yourself: if this guy is a terrorist sponsor, then why is he still free as a bird, why was he never even formally charged with anything, why was the visa first granted, then denied, with a chance to reapply, and most of all, why was he allowed entry in the US several times?

    This is what Ramadan writes at the end of his point by point rebuttal in the Chicago Tribune:

    Since Sept. 11, I have lectured at countless American universities and civic organizations. The French consul of Chicago invited me in 2002 for a lecture trip in the United States, and I spoke at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. I was invited to speak at the U.S. State Department and spoke at an event organized by former President Bill Clinton and was invited again this year by him. I engage in similar activities in Europe and worked closely with Scotland Yard and many European governments.
    If there were any truth to any of the malicious allegations that have been circulating, does anyone really believe that these international agencies and groups would not have prosecuted me?

    The allegations Pipes listed are all dating back from before the period Ramadan travelled to the US. So clearly they must have little to do with the US real motivations to deny the visa this time.

    Lastly, you have to wonder at the politics behind that revoking of the visa. There is no concern for the message being sent out, when scrupleless speculators supporting fundamentalism get away with building their financial networks inside the US, and even Islamist preachers are not required to tone down their jihad-speak, but a philosopher defending a moderate vision of a European Islam is inexplicably denied entry all of a sudden.
    But I guess the targets of the message being sent out are the same people who would not be really concerned with such blatant contradictions anyway. I bet Ramadan will have no problem entering the US after elections, no matter who wins.

  34. Well, the usual suspects are unhappy with me, but that’s life.

    Frans, I do deny that “Islamofascism” is a designation with any real content except that the target is someone the author doesn’t like. That is not to say that bad people, bad ideas, and repressive regimes do not exist under the label “Islamist”.

    As for the rest, I apologise if my vitriol towards Pipes leaked over to Lee Smith. I didn’t find his article impressive – that is the beginning and end of my criticism of him. Failing to write pure gold every time is not a sin.

    As for Hassan al-Turabi, I only recently came across his name and started digging in. One of my big problems with the Daniel Pipes worldview – even when more responsibily expressed – is that it fails to make any distinction between Islamic political projects at all. Considering the real beliefs of millions of people living in Islamic countries, it is necessary to make distinctions between them. I suspect grouping al-Turabi with the likes of the Taliban is a mistake, and that some more serious engagement with his project is necessary. I am advocating a more nuanced view, one that suspects agreeing with him on something, or even thinking that he is a careful and considerate thinker, is not the same as endorsing a radical Islamist or anti-western project. I am not exculpating him for his role in Sudan, but exactly what that role has been is not fully clear to me.

    D^2 did a better job of translating the phrase “sauf infimes” that I did – “apart from a tiny fiew” is a better wording than “except for some miniscule amount.”

    Sebastian – In French, a web search will find plenty. In English, I can point you towards Open Democracy’s profile and interview but not much else. His books are beginning to be translated, but I have not read them. I know him only through his articles and interviews. He writes almost exclusively in French and is a far more visible figure in the French-speaking world, so most of the coverage is in that language. If he is allowed to come to the US, I don’t doubt that some of his speeches will be in English and online.

    I won’t deny that I’m fond of Ramadan. I see in his efforts some things that remind me of the Mennonites and my own efforts to try to put forward a better conception of the role of religion in public life. But, I am not giving him a whole hearted endorsement except as someone worth hearing out.

  35. @Naomi: ?Reading the debate here at Fistful and at HNN I get the idea there is way to much focus on details.? Which is? bad??

    No not bad, but a waste of energy by a number of intelligent and well-intentioned people.

    No offense, Naomi, but you really did not get the point I was trying to make. In the meantime in your reaction you give a splendid illustration of what I was suggesting. You are at war with Pipes, that is my problem.

    ?No offense, Frans, but if you?d never heard of ?this Pipes-guy? before, how come you want to explain his ?point of view??
    Not to defend myself (I do not even feel attacked) but the thing is I spent some hours (that I should be sleeping) to get an idea of what this debate is about and I am not stupid.
    I don?t want to explain the point of view of this Mr Pipes, I just want to understand his behavior in its context.
    If for a not-stupid guy spending some hours is not enough to understand what the debate is about then one should really wonder what the debate is about. I don?t debate for the sake of debate itself and I don?t go into a debate to prove I am on the right side on some topic and others are not. Or are evil.

    Debating on the stand of mr Pipes will not change anything in the real world. Even if he is floored completely (and Scott comes really close to that without being insultive: I appreciate both) he will not shut up and he will not lose his job and mr Ramadan is not permitted a visa (at least until the elections; I agree with you there).
    And even if he would shut up now or lose his job through this debate, what cause would be served by it? Someone else would take his place, someone maybe just slightly less (or more!) unreliable. And btw: Piper did not revoke the visa.
    We can go deeper into the the dirtiest details of P?s words and in the end find ourselves debating on the correct understanding of the word intervention in french. (a word that, yes I read that too, was by an interviewing journalist instead of Ramadan himself). But what is the point?
    Or let?s exaggerate: wo should want to debate with OBL himself? Instead we try to understand how he can be so succesful. About Piper we should wonder too why the likes of him can be so succesful. If that is not part of the analysis it is of no use to floor this guy.
    In my book the reason of his success is the denial of the threat of islamofascism by so many in the west. (to my disappointment Scott?s remark on islamofascism is another confirmation of this phenomenon)

    Although the acts of ?38-?45 were more evil than the acts of WW I, after WW II the conquerors of Nazi Germany did not put indemnities on the defeated like they did after WW I. They invited Germany to participate in the Marshall plan. I am still thankful for that wise decision. A wise decision but to some extend implying that Hitler ?was right? ranting on the humiliation of the German people. In a similar way we have to address not the poverty in the Arabic world but the frustration and resentment underlying the success of OBL.

    The revoking of Ramadan?s visa is very unpleasant for his kids (so he tells the progressive Muslems Wake Up) but it is a tragedy only as a manifestation of the polarisation, angst, mistrust and cynicism fueled by 9-11 and all the other terrorist acts before and after. It?s especially sad because of Ramadan?s special position within the Muslim community.

    I welcome Ramadan?s contribution to the debate in the Muslim community like I welcome Al-Sistani?s but I strongly disagree that all that is necessary to face the terrorist threat is some kind of reformation in the Muslim world like the Catholic world once had one.
    The Islam-reformation, the important new development within the Muslim world is the rise of islamofascism (read Fareed Zakaria on this subject too). The ultinmately tyrannic structure of the catholic church (introduced centuries after the bible was written) did not exist in the Muslim world: it is introduced lately.
    Unlike most of the contributors here I am an atheist up to the point were I don?t discriminate between religions and other (!) political movements.

    I can illustrate my point here with three quotes from the abovementioned interview with Ramadan:
    ?Tariq Ramdan: We have to start with a principle?whoever, woman or man, says, I am a Muslim, and feels that he or she is a Muslim is a Muslim and should be considered as such. We have to stop judging each other……
    We have to avoid simplistic categories to judge others. We need American Muslims to understand that this common culture should help them to reach out to other people?let us start something new together and accept diversity. For example, I don’t follow literalist interpretations, but I accept that some Muslims don’t listen to music. At the same time, don’t tell me that it is more Islamic not to listen to music than to listen to music. We have different opinions. The idea of accepted diversity?different readings, cultures, and levels of practice?is critical…..
    Tariq Ramadan: From the beginning I decided that I am not going to cut myself off from this community. Sometimes when you are an academic, the people around you make you understand that if you want to be a professor, then you have to forget about being with your community. I think that is the wrong attitude. Very often, academics cut themselves from the grassroots. This is not the way to be connected. We are speaking about life and people, and we should have different ways of conveying the message.?

    Now one should wonder why. Why is it of importance to Ramadan to emphasize that everyone who claims to be Muslim IS a Muslim ?
    The answer is in the third quote. He actually uses a typically political wording referring to keep in contact with ?the grassroots?. Nothing wrong with that, but we are talking politics here and the problem is he wants support from a base as big as possible. To put it sharp: he does not refuse membership of his political movement to anyone.
    I sincerely hope he will be very succesful in his efforts to play a leading role in islamic politics. I am very glad that he wants to address the fundamentalism.
    But just because he calls his political movement a religion to me does not change the fact that he himself is still claiming he belongs to the same political family as the Saudi princely parasites and OBL. The Pipers of this world and some of the commentators here in this thread say bluntly that Ramadan is linked to terrorism; I say we can not ignore the problem that even this gentle, conscientious reformist Ramadan in his own words belongs to the same political family as the terrorists.

    To me there is a perfect analogy with the level of moral responsibility of the political left for the millions of victims of Mao, Pol Pot and Stalin.
    Because of the atrocities by Pol pot and the likes of him all of the western left was (and is still) being attacked for being disguised Khmer Rouges, only paying lipservice to the condemnation of these atrocities. Concentrating on refuting allegations of being similar to Stalin-Russia did and will never suffice for the US or European left. A lot of people (including me in my leftist days) should have been giving more priority to thinking not just how to prevent socialist or social-democratic policies turning into communist dictatorship, but on dealing with the existing communist dictatorships as well.

    Finally another reason why I am not very happy with this debate is that it has an element of ?proving? some sort of superiority of the European attitude compared to the US attitude. The attack on Piper would be more appropiate on a US blog.

    As Europeans we should better accept the challenges put forward by Howard Dean : The Forgotten Crisis:
    ?Europeans cannot criticize the United States for waging war in Iraq if they are unwilling to exhibit the moral fiber to stop genocide by acting collectively and with decisiveness. President Bush was wrong to go into Iraq unilaterally when Iraq posed no danger to the United States, but we were right to demand accountability from Saddam. We are also right to demand accountability in Sudan. Every day that goes by without meaningful sanctions and even military intervention in Sudan by African, European and if necessary U.N. forces is a day where hundreds of innocent civilians die and thousands are displaced from their land. Every day that goes by without action to stop the Sudan genocide is a day that the anti-Iraq war position so widely held in the rest of the world appears to be based less on principle and more on politics. And every day that goes by is a day in which George Bush’s contempt for the international community, which I have denounced every day for two years, becomes more difficult to criticize.?

  36. Attention to details a.k.a. facts is a waste of energy? Wow.

    Frans, no offence, but you did not get my point at all, so don’t put words in my mouth, please. I am certainly not “at war” with anyone, much less Daniel Pipes, I really don’t care about him. That article could have been signed by anyone, or even be anonymous, it would still be full of unfounded crap, because those allegations can be verified against the very sources the article cites and others, so they can be verified to be unfounded, simple as that. If the article was about ideological differences, disagreements and dislikes of what Mr Ramadan says, then I might have agreed or disagreed with it, but it would have been simply an *opinion*. Allegations about someone being a terrorists is not considered in the realm of opinions, in fact, if the same allegations had been addressed to an American citizens, public figure or not, it would have been libel, and that citizen could have sued.

    Do you get that particular point about the difference between opinion and fact-statements now? Or is that too another “detail” that’s a “waste of energy”?

    I don?t want to explain the point of view of this Mr Pipes, I just want to understand his behavior in its context.

    Right. Now, if allegation x is proven to be unfounded by a simple check against the various sources reporting about it, what’s there to understand if not that it is a lie or an invention or a distortion of events as reported by those very sources?

    See the claim about Ramadan having had contacts with terrorist x, when all that emerged during trial of terrorist x was that terrorist x mentioned Ramadan’s name in a phone conversation with Ramadan’s publishing house, conversation inquiring about publishing material and organising events. The judges, not being idiots, did not cosnider that sufficient ground to incriminate Ramadan or his publishers. But Pipes does, and he even has to twist an indirect mention with a direct face-to-face encounter! In what language is that not called a lie?

    Or, claim that terrorist x attended Ramadan’s lectures. Source: terrorist x himself! getting the year wrong! and yet, that’s enough for Pipes to use as “clue” that Ramadan is pro-terrorist.

    Can we apply an even less loony standard of “guilty by association” to George Bush? He did a lot more than being mentioned by a terrorist on the phone. It’s public knowledge he had business with Osama bin Laden’s family. That’s a lot more direct association than having once met bin Laden’s brother as Ramadan did. Is Bush a terrorist too? I don’t think Pipes would subscribe to that proposition, yet, he’s being even more dishonest with his allegations against Ramadan.

    You want to understand why Pipes has to lie and distort like that? As if he could have a legitimate motive to do that? Are there ever legitimate motives to slander someone and make up crap about them?

    Debating on the stand of mr Pipes will not change anything in the real world.

    Of course. talking about anything doesn’t change anything. So we should stop talking? Exposing lies as lies does not make them go away. Look at the Swift Boat case. Mud that’s been thrown tends to stick. So what? Should people stop *caring* about honesty and the difference between facts and allegations?

    And btw: Piper did not revoke the visa.

    Doh, who ever said he did?

    You’re arguing against straw men, Frans.

    About Piper we should wonder too why the likes of him can be so succesful. If that is not part of the analysis it is of no use to floor this guy.

    Oh, so, to argue that the Swift Boats & the likes of them are contradicting previous claims, spreading rumours, conducting a politically biased campaign of slander, and demeaning the value of medals to veterans by mocking the standards according to which they are assigned, you need to “wonder” about why they’re so successful? Otherwise it’s a waste of time?

    Isn’t it obvious that slandering has always been a very successful political tool? Do you really need that mechanism explained? Hello, this is planet earth, not planet abstractions.

    In my book the reason of his success is the denial of the threat of islamofascism by so many in the west.

    Oh, I see, so it’s all fair game, as long as it’s done in the glorious aim of alerting people that Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists are really really bad?

    By the same standard, you could say that, a few decades ago, the success of the antisemitic paranoia that blamed the development of communism on Jewish lobbies was explained or even justified in the name of the denounciation of communism.

    If we really were to take that to extremes, we could get to the point of “explaining” nazism as a way to alert so many in the west to the threat of communism!

    This is ridiculous apology for intellectual dishonesty. Dishonesty is what it is no matter where it comes from or which ideological battle it purports to be fighting.

    Unlike most of the contributors here I am an atheist up to the point were I don?t discriminate between religions and other (!) political movements.

    Well, guess what, religions as well as political movements are here to stay, like it or not, and just because Ramadan is a Muslim and terrorists are also Muslim, thus, literally belonging to “the same family”, of being Islamic, doh, you can’t erase the difference between moderate and extremist, in any religion or political group.
    Otherwise, we can reduce differences even further and state we all “belong to the same family” of the human species, does that alone justify considering murderers and law-abiding citizens as equal? What kind of crazy logic is that?

    Nothing wrong with that, but we are talking politics here and the problem is he wants support from a base as big as possible. To put it sharp: he does not refuse membership of his political movement to anyone.

    Frans, I honestly don’t follow you anymore here. Why is that bad?

    Why, if you do acknowledge he sounds like a moderate and possibly even a reformist, and wish he can be successful in his endeavours, do you consider it a wrong thing that he wants to reach more people?

    Would it be better if he supported an isolationist, discriminatory, Muslim-only view, ie. what the fundamentalists do??

    To me there is a perfect analogy with the level of moral responsibility of the political left for the millions of victims of Mao, Pol Pot and Stalin.

    Oh lord.

    A lot of people (including me in my leftist days) should have been giving more priority to thinking not just how to prevent socialist or social-democratic policies turning into communist dictatorship, but on dealing with the existing communist dictatorships as well.

    Are you implying that by merely pointing out the intellectual dishonesty in accusing someone of being a terrorist without any grounds to do so, one is ignoring, minimising, or supporting… the existence of terrorism and Islamic dictatorships?

    Finally another reason why I am not very happy with this debate is that it has an element of ?proving? some sort of superiority of the European attitude compared to the US attitude. The attack on Piper would be more appropiate on a US blog.

    Oh man. I’m speechless by now.

    I can see what you mean by “wasting energy” now, I sure wasted mine by responding to this.

  37. Frans: Are you sure you are without that inclination?

    Good question and the answer is: Yes, I do not think I am good and the rest evil. And, I can be so definite because I do not believe in good and evil. I believe that those concepts, so useful in tribal societies thousands of years ago, have no place in today’s European society (or other societies but that is for their members to decide.) In particular, I find the “as I am a name-your-group I am good and those with other ideas must be evil” attitude so prevalent in the early comments does tend to create rather sarcastic reactions from me.

    I say we can not ignore the problem that even this gentle, conscientious reformist Ramadan in his own words belongs to the same political family as the terrorists.

    If I understand you correctly, you are saying that Ramadan is political islamist and OBL is political islamist therefore both are the same “political family”. Why do you call this a problem? For our own wellbeing, terrorism is something to be stamped on; but, I see no problem with trying to stifle terrorist recruitment by engaging disenfranchised young muslims in democratic dialogue at the same time.

    Europeans cannot criticize the United States for waging war in Iraq if they are unwilling to exhibit the moral fiber to stop genocide by acting collectively and with decisiveness.

    So the US went to war to stop genocide. Now we know.

    Every day that goes by without meaningful sanctions and even military intervention in Sudan by African, European and if necessary U.N. forces is a day where hundreds of innocent civilians die and thousands are displaced from their land.

    Unfortunately, sanctions only hurt those same innocents and direct military intervention from the west has been made infinitely harder because the war in Iraq gives psuedo-credibility to the anti-muslim crusade theory.

    I too wish that Europe and the UN would get their acts together regarding genocide, but these failures excuse nothing in Iraq. If Europe and the UN had taken a stand on the war on, say, the basis of the majority opinion of the population they would have stood united against a war in Iraq. And, as Bush said he was going in anyway – so what?

  38. Sebastian,

    You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding “Western Muslims and the Future of Islam” (whether you’re willing to spend money on a hardcover book is another matter). The book that made his name was “To Be A European Muslim” which, to my knowledge, has never been published in the US. You’re probably better off with “Western Muslims” anyway. It covers much of the same ground in a more general fashion to be relevant regarding Muslims in the non-European West. Last but not least, “European Muslim” was written before September 11th.

  39. I’m still interested in this ‘Pipes is Bush’s man in the Middle East’ bit.

    Do you not hold yourself to your own standards, Scott?

  40. Ramadan’s visa denial reminds me of a story I read of in an essay collection of Salman Rushdie.

    It happened in the eighties that a radio organised for a debate between Edward Said and the Ambassador of Israel, who was then Benjamin Netanyahu. When Netanyahu arrived, he immediately threw a tantrum, that “I’m not secure, this is a terrorist who wants to kill me,” and wouldn’t rest until Said was taken to another studio.

  41. Lol, Rupert, always trying to derail discussions, as if you were an good little AEI practicant?

    Do you want to challenge any of Mr. Martens’s counterpoints to Pipes’s ‘points’ about Ramadan?

  42. The discussion, DoDo, is about accuracy and accountability. Pipes is merely the example. I personally agree with the Scott’s assesment of the article written by Pipes, so there is no argument or challenge there.

    I’m simply pointing out his own assertion lacks facts. Which he pointedly didn’t answer.

  43. Thanks Scott. Before reading your piece, I had tried several times to post a comment on Pipes’ site, with some of the same points, including my translations of the French articles. But my posts never passed the censors.
    It should be pointed out that Pipes may have had a major role in the visa withdrawal. His dishonest character assassinations are, unfortunately, influential, especially among some key groups of voters, enough to cause some political embarrassment to the Bush admin. if they let Ramadan in. See how Pipes tried to embarrass the State Department for letting Mustafa Abu Sway lecture at Florida Atlantic U., claiming he is a Hamas activist, again, with no evidence!

  44. @Baomi “I can see what you mean by ?wasting energy? now, I sure wasted mine by responding to this.

    I don’t consider it a waste of time to read your answer and think about it since I assume you (like most commenters here) are not just well-intentioned but intelligent and well-informed as well.
    Maybe the difference of our opinions is biggest on how we look at the role of writing in this blog.
    I could better understand the way you react supposing that maybe you consider writing here comparable with writing for a newspaper or other mass media. The fact that some Bush-fan with a position of moderate importance is not a little bit unreliable but very unreliable and sloppy: where is the surprise? I am not surprised at all. It’s positive that Scott made his very good journalistic effort to go into the dirty details. But mainly as an example.

    In the debate here at fistful I hope to dig deeper into political questions.
    I find out where I am incomprehensible.
    This is in quite a number of my lines.

    Where you wonder:
    Are you implying that by merely pointing out the intellectual dishonesty in accusing someone of being a terrorist without any grounds to do so, one is ignoring, minimising, or supporting? the existence of terrorism and Islamic dictatorships? I see I have been way too implicit.
    No it’s not ignoring the existence of terrorism, and certainly not doing that by pointing out the dushonesty of Pipes but my main concern is whay Pipes and the likes of him can get away with it. It proves that we (yes you and I, among others) are not succesful enough in our PR to say the least.

  45. “The discussion, DoDo, is about accuracy and accountability.”

    The discussion, Rupert, is about Mr. Ramadan, and the validity of an attack on him. I ask for a second time: do you have any input to challenge Mr. Martens’ points against Mr. Pipes?

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