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Tariq Ramadan: Muslims and Anti-Semitism

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    Muslims and Anti-Semitism Tariq Ramadan Jul 30, 2007 Le Monde http://www.tariqramadan.com/article.php3?id_article=347&lang=en The responsibility of the Muslims
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2007
      Muslims and Anti-Semitism
      Tariq Ramadan
      Jul 30, 2007
      Le Monde

      The responsibility of the Muslims and the Jews in the West is
      tremendous: living together, both citizens of the same countries, they
      should raise their voices in the name of justice and mutual respect.
      In France, for example, one finds a unique situation; namely, the
      largest Jewish and Muslim communities in Europe living together. In
      America, we find the same situation with two important religious
      communities sharing the same citizenship. That itself should be an
      ideal opportunity for people to learn to live in harmony. However, the
      reality is that problems are on the rise. While tensions have been
      incidental in the past, the situation has been exacerbated during the
      second intifada, and more recently, during the upsurge of violence in
      the Middle East. The trend appears to be that the Muslim immigrants as
      well as native European and American Muslims are becoming extremely
      sensitive to the events occurring in Palestine and are demonstrating
      their frustration quite overtly.

      Malicious words, cries of "down with the Jews" shouted during protest
      demonstrations, and in a few cities in France, reports of synagogues
      being vandalized. One also hears ambiguous statements about Jews,
      their "occult-like" power, their insidious role within the media and
      their nefarious plans. After September 11th, the false rumor that
      4,000 Jews did not show up for work the morning of the terrorist
      attacks against the World Trade center, was relayed throughout
      predominantly Muslim areas.

      It is very rare to hear Muslim voices that set themselves apart from
      this kind of discourse and attitude. Often, one will try to explain
      away this phenomena being a result of extreme frustration and
      humiliation. That may be true, but one must be honest and analyze the
      situation deeply. Much like the situation across the Muslim world,
      there exists in the West today a discourse which is anti-Semitic,
      seeking legitimacy in certain Islamic texts and support in the present
      situation in Palestine. This is the attitude of not only marginalized
      youth, but also of intellectuals and Imams, who see the manipulative
      hand of the "Jewish lobby" at each turn or every political setback,
      The situation is far too serious for one to be satisfied by simple
      explanations based on current frustrations. In the name of their faith
      and their conscience, Muslims must take a clear position so that a
      pernicious atmosphere does not take hold in the Western countries.
      Nothing in Islam can legitimize xenophobia or the rejection of a human
      being due to his/her religious creed or ethnicity. One must say
      unequivocally, with force, that anti-Semitism is unacceptable and
      indefensible. The message of Islam requires respect of Jewish faith
      and spirituality as noble expressions of "The People of the Book".
      During the initial phase of the Prophet's settlement in Medina, prior
      to the conflicts of Alliances, the Prophet Muhammad sternly
      admonished: "He who is unjust with a contractor (Christians and Jews
      of Medina), I shall bear witness against him on the Day of Judgment".
      Later, during a period of extreme conflict [between Jews and Muslims],
      eight Qur'anic verses were revealed to absolve a Jew who had falsely
      been accused of a crime by a Muslim. Muhammad constantly taught
      respect for all human beings, with all their differences. One day,
      he stood up out of respect when he saw a funeral procession nearby.
      When told it was that of a Jew, he replied "Is it not human soul?"

      One cannot simultaneously neglect these teachings and continue to feed
      a tainted portrayal concerning Jews. It is the responsibility of
      Islamic organizations and Imams to send an unambiguous message about
      the profound link between Islam and Judaism; the recognition of Moses
      and the Torah as part of Islamic teachings; on the necessary
      contextualisation of certain equivocal texts within the Qu'ran; on
      mutual respect and the rejection of all forms of explicit or implicit
      anti-Semitism. This also means to acknowledge the horrors of the
      holocaust, by studying its ramifications, and respecting the pain and
      suffering which have shaped the Jewish conscience in the 20th century.
      In order for all Muslim citizens to understand this teaching, there
      must be a corresponding set of actions. One has to fight feelings of
      victimization which colonize the spirit of many Muslim citizens in the
      West, especially those who are the most marginalized. The frustration
      within these communities leads to blaming of the other, the state, the
      police, and, "the Jew who does not like us and who manipulates us..."

      It is here that Muslim intellectuals and the public authority should
      share the responsibility. The first step is to disseminate an Islamic
      awareness that is coherent and non-literal. It should emphasize
      personal responsibility and respect of others. As for public
      authorities, it is important that they encourage concrete actions
      which break the cycle of economic ghettos and encourage reform of
      social and urban politics at a local level. Whether we like it or
      not, unemployment and discrimination are one of the major roots of

      At another level, there is urgency for Jewish and Muslim
      representatives to start communicating and establish an honest
      dialogue in order to avoid knee-jerk, reflexive community responses
      that may undermine the principle of living together in harmony.
      Self-criticism must become a mutual exercise.

      If it is necessary to condemn anti-Semitic language of some Muslims,
      it is also the responsibility of Jewish intellectuals, religious or
      secular, not to confuse the different spheres. An extreme right-wing
      Prime Minister, Jewish or otherwise, supports an ideology that must be
      denounced precisely for what it is. Criticism of Sharon for his
      atrocious past crimes and his policies while prime minister of Israel
      is not a sign of disrespect for Judaism, in the same way that
      criticism of dictators of some Muslim countries, one by one, is
      not an attack on Islam.

      The respect that we have towards Judaism should not be subject to
      suspicion once we denounce the unjust policies of the state of Israel.
      To foster this type of amalgams, we will end up creating chasms
      between communities and that is certainly to empty the ethical content
      of our common Western citizenship based on the values of justice and

      Muslims and Jews alike should stop feeding sentiments of
      victimization, and reconsider the discourse that one is creating
      towards the other. In the name of a common ethics of citizenship, our
      dignity will be based upon our ability to know how to be critical,
      transcending one's creed, a state, or an organization without
      considering that it "clearly" a manifestation of anti Semitism
      or Islamophobia. It is exactly this type of intellectual requirement
      which one must teach and which will help all Jews and Musl_ims to
      offer to their faith, and to their respective belonging, the magnitude
      of a self-conscience based on universal principals, and not a
      closed-minded ghetto identity. In Europe and in America, the
      conditions are right to bring these challenges to light. What remains
      is the mutual commitment to a constructive self-analysis and to refuse
      the destructive temptation of selective condemnations.

      Translation by _MPACUK_



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