Interview with Tariq Ramadan: "We Have to Turn Up the Volume on Reason"

February 9, 2006

Source: Spiegel,1518,399965,00.html

On February 9, 2006 Spiegel reported, "With unrelenting Muslim anger over the Muhammad caricatures, sentiments between Islam and the West once again have all the delicacy of a powder keg. SPIEGEL ONLINE spoke with Tariq Ramadan, Europe's leading Muslim scholar, about the overreaction of the Muslim world, rampant anti-Semitism and the frustrations of Muslim immigrants in Europe... SPIEGEL ONLINE: 'But clearly there are deeper reasons for this enormous outburst of emotions than just a handful of offensive cartoons. It's as though huge amounts of pent up frustration are finally being released. Is there something larger going on here?'

Ramadan: 'Of course it started with a few people being hurt by the cartoons. But then a few people took the cartoons to the Middle East. Some governments there were very happy to present themselves as the great champions of Islam. One reason, of course, was to gain legitimacy in the eyes of their own people. But secondly, it was to direct the attention of the people, living under these dictatorial governments, toward the West and to provide their people with a vent for their own frustrations. And it worked -- it became Muslims against the West. All the first reactions from the Islamic majority countries came from those countries (and places) where there is a difficult relationship with the West: Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Gaza, and then Iran. It's more than just the cartoons. It's part of a broader picture that we have to keep in mind... If we end up with a clash of civilizations, we are both going to lose. If there is a dialogue of civilizations, then we are both going to win. We have to realize that whether we win or lose, we are going to do it together.'"