- Tariq Ramadanprofessor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University. He is the author of a number of influential books on Islam and the West, including Western Muslims and the Future of Islam and In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad. Ramadan was named by Time magazine as one of the most important innovators of the 21st century.
In the last week, more than 300 people have been killed in attacks by militants in Iraq, Turkey, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia. The wave of violence came as Muslims across the world were preparing for celebrations to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan. In Iraq, the weekend’s suicide car attack in a busy shopping center in Baghdad killed more than 250 people, making it the deadliest attack since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. It has prompted the resignation of Iraq’s interior minister and helped fuel increasing political destabilization in the country. For more on the wave of violence and political turmoil, we’re joined by Tariq Ramadan, professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University. He says Western policies in the region, including the U.S.-led war in Iraq, have created this destabilization. “I think they are policies that are helping the United States and European countries sell weapons and still control the region.”
AMY GOODMAN: We want to bring another guest into this conversation, Sami Ramadani, Iraqi-born lecturer, speaking to us from London, as well as the well-known British-Pakistani author, commentator, editor of New Left Review, Tariq Ali. But we’re going to turn right now to Oxford in Britain. Tariq Ramadan is professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University, author of a number of influential books on Islam and the West, including Western Muslims and the Future of Islam and In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad. Ramadan was named by Time magazine as one of the most important innovators of the 21st century. Under the Bush administration, he was not allowed to come into the United States, where he was invited to teach at Notre Dame University. Tariq Ramadan now teaches at Oxford.
Professor Ramadan, your response to the Chilcot report, the attacks in Iraq? And then we’ll move to Saudi Arabia and the ISIS attacks this weekend there.
TARIQ RAMADAN: Look, I think that what we heard from Tariq Ali and Sami Ramadani, these are important points, that it’s very true that what happened there and what is happening now is connected to policies that were decided in Washington and decided in London, which had nothing to do with human rights, had nothing to do with freedom and democracy, it was all about interests and geostrategic interests. And if we go for it, we understand that the war was launched for very, very, in fact, geostrategic and economic interests, and had nothing to do with the dignity. So now we know that, and things are happening now that are showing how much—or, how many contradictions we had in the British policies following in the footsteps of the American policy in the region.
And then, the connection that we have here with Saudi Arabia as an ally in the region and the mess that we have now in the new Middle East is all to—has to do with some of the reasons that they were talking about right now. And we cannot disconnect this from that. If we do this, we are completely misled, and we can end up with what is happening in Saudi Arabia with the attacks during the last days, by supporting the regime and not understanding that it’s much more complex than that.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Tariq Ramadan, what about those attacks? Because here you’re seeing a situation of, actually, especially in the attack in Medina, near the holy site of Saudi Arabia and of Islam, the attacks on Muslims themselves.
TARIQ RAMADAN: Yes, but this is not new. You are talking about Iraq, and this is every day we have exactly the same people targeting Muslims, Shia or Sunni, all Muslims. It’s the same in Syria. It’s the same in the whole region. It’s even the same with Saudi Arabia attacking Yemen. So we have—you know, the majority of the victims are Muslims. And here, what we have in Saudi Arabia, which is new, is targeting in Medina, which is the second sacred place for Muslims, so it’s as if they are now ready to go against all the Muslims. And you can hear from around the world people saying this has nothing to do with Islam, it’s against any Islamic teachings. At the same time, if you look at the symbols, they were targeting Shia mosques, they were targeting the U.S. Embassy. So they are targeting symbols.
So we have to ask ourselves what they are trying to do here. Is it because they are losing ground in Iraq that they are doing this? Is it, in fact, just to show that they can target the people wherever they are? But the point for us here is that there is no clear vision in what they are doing, except to spread around violence and violent extremism. So we have to condemn this. But we have to take a step back and to try to understand what is happening in the region and who are the people who are playing. And, you know, Tariq Ali was saying they are making mistakes. Unfortunately, I’m more cynical than that. I’m not sure that they are mistakes. I think that they are policies that are helping the United States and European countries, in the mess, to sell weapons and still to control the region out of this completely destabilized situation.