Last week the Islamic scholar and reformer Tariq Ramadan argued in the Guardian for an end to calls on British Muslims to integrate. Here, Prospect editor David Goodhart repliesby David Goodhart / June 30, 2007 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2007 issue of Prospect Magazine
I was disappointed by your piece in the Guardian on Monday 4th June. For what it’s worth, I have spent quite a lot of time in the past year or two defending you from the many people in the British political class who are influenced by the predominant French-American view that you are a dangerous extremist (recently rehearsed, as you will know, by Paul Berman in the New Republic). Having heard you speak several times, and interviewed you in depth for Prospect, I concluded that whatever your former beliefs, you now thought that Muslims should embrace and integrate into western societies. You even seemed to be edging towards a non-literalist reading of the great texts of Islam. To the extent that you did prevaricate over reform—the famous moratorium on stoning for adulterers, for instance—I took this to be an example of your “realpolitik” belief that you would lose credibility with mainstream Muslims if you moved too far ahead of your people. As the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, you are, after all, minor royalty in parts of the Muslim world.
Perhaps you have your “realpolitik” reasons too for repeating the grievance-seeking, responsibility-avoiding diatribe that I read in the Guardian—all too familiar from far less accomplished Muslim thinkers than yourself—claiming that all this Muslim extremism in Britain is someone else’s fault, probably the British government’s. But it is still nonsense. You come close to repeating the canard that Mohammad Sidique Khan was a well-integrated young British-Pakistani driven mad by Tony Blair’s foreign policy. Well, I implore you to read the cover story in the latest issue o…