Ralph Ghadban: Tariq Ramadan and the Islamisation of Europe

Prof. Dr. Christine Schirrmacher

Ralph Ghadban. Tariq Ramadan and the Islamisation of Europe [in German only: Tariq Ramadan und die Islamisierung Europas]. Verlag Hans Schi- ler: Berlin, 2006. 170 pp., 17 €.

In this book the Lebanese-born political writer and Islam expert Ralph Ghadban takes a critical look at Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hasan al-Banna. Founded in Egyptian in 1928, the Brotherhood is till today active and extremely influential throughout the Muslim world and even in the West. Its history was the subject of Ramadan’s doctoral thesis, but his portrayal of the highly politicised and even militant organisation as a primarily charitable institution led to the withdrawal of two Swiss promoters, and the dissertation was only then accepted as a result of political pressure.

Faced with the question whether Ramadan is as often suggested an enlightened advocate of a potentially democratic “Euro-Islam” and a moderate modernist, or an uncompromising proponent of Sharia law and the Islamisation of Europe “from below”, Ralph Ghadban opts for the latter view. Islamisation “from below” refers to Ramadan’s advocacy of strengthening immigrants’ Muslim identity by means of education and social work. Far from demanding their integration into the West, Ramadan wants to integrate the West into the Islamic system, thus rejecting both Enlightenment principles and universal human rights on the one hand and a liberal reform of Islam on the other.

“Ramadan claims Muslims in the West must be fully accepted without having to subject their convictions to the touchstone of a democratic system based on human rights,” Ghadban concludes (149).

This is consistent with Ramadan’s refusal, in a television talk-show in November 2003, to condemn the execution of women by stoning.

More than ever the lives and public statements of prominent representatives of contemporary Islam in Europe need to be closely examined to gain a clear picture of our partners in dialogue and what they stand for.