Op/ed: "Now For the Real Debate" by Tariq Ramadan

September 21, 2006

Source: The Globe and Mail


On September 21, 2006 The Globe and Mail published a commentary by Tariq Ramadan, "A few sentences by the Pope were sufficient to touch off a firestorm. Throughout the Muslim world, religious leaders, politicians and intellectuals joined their voices to masses angered by a perceived 'insult' to their faith. Most did not read the speech; others reliedon a summary according to which the Pope had linked Islam and violence. But all railed against what they saw as an 'intolerable offence.' Whatever the judgments of these scholars and intellectuals, one would have hoped they adopt a more reasoned approach, for two reasons. First, the unquestionable love and reverence Muslims have for the Prophet Mohammed notwithstanding, we are well aware how certain groups or governments manipulate crises of this kind as a safety valve for both their restive populations and their own political agendas. When people are deprived of their basic rights and their freedom of expression, it costs nothing to allow them to vent their anger over Danish cartoons or the words of the pontiff. Second, what we are witnessing is mass protest characterized by an uncontrollable outpouring of emotion that, in the process, ends up providing living proof that Muslims cannot engage in reasonable debate, and that verbal aggression and violence are more the rule than the exception. Muslim intellectuals bear the primary responsibility of not lending credibility to this counterproductive game."