Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss-Egyptian philosopher in the vanguard of the Islamic modernisation movement, is no stranger to controversy. A substantial body of opinion, particularly in France and the US, views him as a dangerous figure who flirts with radicalism and delivers different messages depending on whether he is speaking to north African immigrants to France or senior European politicians. The debate has been reopened in the last couple of weeks by Paul Berman’s sceptical (and extremely lengthy) profile of Ramadan in the New Republic.
A year ago, Prospect published an interview with Ramadan in which he expressed his support for integration of Muslim minorities in European countries. Prospect’s editor David Goodhart wrote then that it was “vital for Europe’s future” that Ramadan’s attempt to modernise the faith and to reconcile it with Europe succeed. But last week, Ramadan argued in the Guardian that British society needed to stop insisting on Muslim integration and instead start putting its own house in order.
David wonders if this is some sort of “complicated piece of political manoeuvring,” or if the Ramadan he interviewed last year has turned towards what he calls the “beleaguered, paranoid worldview” of some sections of British Islam. You can read his open letter to Ramadan here.