In a move that appears designed to stir up Islamophobia, The Sun newspaper today launched a front page attack on Professor Tariq Ramadan, an internationally respected progressive Muslim scholar.
The Sun’s leader column claims that Ramadan is ‘more dangerous’ than extremist clerics Abu Hamza or Omar because ‘he is a soft-spoken professor whose moderate tones present an acceptable, “reasonable” face of terror to impressionable young Muslims.’
This shows a dangerous inability to distinguish between the progressive Islam promoted by Ramadan, a best-selling author whose work focuses on the compatibility of European and Muslim principles, and the proponents of the terrorist attacks on London. Ramadan himself unreservedly condemned the London bombings in a statement on 7 July, stating that ‘The authors of such acts are criminals and we cannot accept or listen to their probable justifications in the name of an ideology, a religion or a political cause.’
The Sun’s coverage was condemned by Ruhul Tarafder of The 1990 Trust, who said:
‘The Sun’s sensationalist, disgraceful and irresponsible front-page story is simply an attempt to fuel Islamaphobia. Tariq Ramadan is a highly respected moderate Muslim scholar and was one of the first to condemn the London bombings, as he has condemned previous outrages. This demonisation does nothing but promote hostility towards Muslim communities. At a time of high emotions and the need for strength and unity between all faiths and communities, the inaccuracies and lies in this account only seek to encourage divisions. The Sun should issue an immediate apology to both Tariq Ramadan and the Muslim community.’
Oscar Reyes of Red Pepper magazine added that:
‘The Sun’s attack on Tariq Ramadan repeats the Islamophobic myth that even moderate Muslims are extremists in disguise. To repeat uncritically a series of unfounded claims made by neoconservative commentators would be irresponsible journalism at any time. But when Britain’s Muslims are facing increasing numbers of racist attacks, it reads like an incitement to violence.’
See also “The Sun and the terrorists: an unholy alliance”, Red Pepper, 13 July 2005