No one should defend Tariq Ramadan without first reading, very carefully, Caroline Fourest's "Frere Tariq" and other articles in the French press -- Ramadan's ability to carry on his campaign of propaganda on behalf of Islam, and something he likes to call "European Islam" has had to move out of France and Switzerland, and he managed to wangle a temporary appointment as some kind of lecturer at St. Antony's College, entirely for post-graduate students, from which perch, and now describing himself, quite inaccurately, as a much grander thing, an "Oxford University Professor," he, Ramadan, has not only been improving his English in order to spout the same kind of propaganda he used to deliver in French, and that here and there he still gets away with -as at that CransMontana Foundation do a year or two ago at which one "Tariq Ramadan" described as an "Oxford University Professor" solemnly appeared -- but remember, this is all in Monte Carlo, home to so many rich Arabs and, especially, estivating Saudis who take over whole floors of hotels, and sometimes entire hotels: the Societe des bains de mer and any monegasque foundations of course will be inviting the likes of Tariq Ramadan.
Now Ramadan -- whose claims about the supposedly deep intellectual and cultural influence of Islam on Europe's Renaissance would make any reputable historian scratch his head. The only influence of that sort one can think of are a handful of Greek manuscripts translated by Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews, chiefly in Cordoba or Baghdad, manuscripts which had no discernible influence on Islamic civilization, but were preserved and taken seriously in Western Christendom, but that is not due to Islam or to what is wrongly called "Islamic civilization." If one wished to give credit for the Renaissance to the world of Islam it would be the following: the seizure of lands by Muslims, the Seljuk and then the Ottoman Turks, caused many Greek scholars to flee Byzantium and, arriving in Italy with their manuscripts, they helped to spark the Revival of Learning, that is the rediscovery of texts of classical antiquity that, in turn, in the end lead us to Marsilio Ficino, and Pico della Mirandola, and others associated with the Renaissance, neo-Platonism, and all that Oskar-Kristeller and I Tatti Library sort of stuff.
At the moment Ramadan slithered into a lowly post at St. Antony's, a postgraduate Oxford college that is divided into its largely disreputable middle-eastern wing, and its straightforward Russian and East European Studies wing. Save for the odd Timothy Ash who is quite willing to learn all he knows about Islam from the likes of Tariq Ramadan, the two do not intersect or overlap. Founded by Anton or Antoine Besse, a Jewish trader in Aden, St. Antony's (the name was a nod to the benefactor) in its middle-eastern wing was long under the sole control of Albert Hourani, once an acolyte of George Antonius (of "The Arab Awakening" fame, whose widow had an affair with Sir Evelyn Barker, last British military commander in Jerusalem). The D.Phil., unlike the Ph.D., does not require any course work. One arrives and writes one's thesis. If the thesis director is your pal, say you are a young Arab without any real scholarly training or bent, nonetheless Albert Hourani and others like him could make it possible for you to get that D.Phil. anyway, and then you can parlay that into a position back in the good old credulous U.S.A., where the MESA-Nostra Rules are in force. If you find this incredible, just ask Rashid Khalidi.
In any case, that's where Ramadan has been slithering these days, waiting until his devout admirers, such as Scott Appleby, ably assisted by the ACLU, manage to get him over here, so he can start appearing, start lecturing, start making the case for not a "European Islam" but now, just as absurdly and meaninglessly, an "American Islam."
He is a menace. He is a one-man Goebbels. Ask Bassam Tibi. Ask Magdi Allam of the Corriere della Sera and the RAI, who in his "Lettera aperta a Tariq Ramadan" says "I know you. I was born and raised as a Muslim in Egypt. I know all about you. I know what you write. I know how you lie. You can fool some of the Infidels but you can't fool me." More or less, that is what Magdi Allam says. The American government should consult with Magdi Allam. His writings should be translated. And he, and Caroline Fourest, and all those in Europe who have got Ramadan's number, should be consulted with -- for they know him, they have followed him, they cannot be fooled. And the United States is full of people in government who are naive and ill-informed, and need to be brought up to date, or up to speed, or up to something -- up to whatever Tariq Ramadan is up to, very quickly.