A noted Muslim writer who's the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood -- the Islamic group now in power in Egypt -- is speaking tonight in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan.
Tariq Ramadan, who teaches at Oxford University in England, is speaking about the role of Islam and democracy in the Middle East after the Arab Spring. This is Ramadan's third lecture in southeastern Michigan since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2010 lifted a ban on him entering the U.S. In 2004, the Bush administration had barred him because of alleged ties to terrorists, claims he has said were baseless. That same year, he was named by Time magazine as one of the top 100 influential people in the world.
Ramadan spoke in Livonia in April 2010 and in Dearborn in June of that year. Much has changed since then in Egypt and the Arab world.
Founded in Egypt by Hassan al-Banna -- Ramadan's grandfather -- the Muslim Brotherhood was suppressed for decades by secular rulers such as Egypt's former ruler Hosni Mubarak, who saw it as a threat. But after the 2010 uprising and democratic elections this year, the Brotherhood is now in power and Egypt is led by a Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohammed Morsi, who had once been jailed for his political activities with the group.
Some in the West are wary of the Muslim Brotherhood, seeing it as a hostile group that promotes extremism, while others are more open to it, seeing it as an Islamist alternative to the more extreme Salafi movement that has gained popularity in the aftermath of the Arab Spring movements. In recent months, Ramadan has been critical of the Salafi movement.
Tonight's lecture is titled "From the Arab Spring, Forward: Islam, Democracy, & The Pursuit of Civil Society" and is sponsored by the Islamic Studies Program, International Institute, Vice Provost for International Affairs, Weiser Center for Europe & Eurasia Studies, the Muslim Law Students Association and Model United Nations.