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Annoying and Envious, but with some interesting side comments
on 12 January 2008
Published under the auspices of the self-consciously right-wing / neo-conservative publishing house "Encounter Books", Ms. Fourest has already been feted by the right wing American establishment for this attempt to denigrate the reputation of Mr. Tariq Ramadan, an important liberal Muslim thinker. Ms. Fourest is an engaging journalist well known for feminist and proto-feminist writing and for an expose style of investigation, and her writing (though occasionally sharp) is attractive and gives the book a highly polished readability.
Unfortunately however, her approach here is intruiging largely for its revelations about the anti-pluralistic and illiberal instincts of its ideal audience. For example, Fourest is displeased that Ramadan explains and justifies "secular" values important to Western democracies so that their relevance in an Islamic context might become more evident - she would clearly prefer him to refute Islam, and dismisses his claims that life in Western societies permit Muslims "to be able fully to live our spirituality and our pratices", for instance, or "to be able to act in the name of our faith". It is ofcourse somewhat difficult to understand why she would dislike Muslims feeling included and comfortable "to act in the name of faith"... unless a fundamental dislike of the religion is at issue.
Finally, a persistent feeling of dislike at Mr. Ramadan's success also seems to pervade the book. This is a shame as many of us would have liked a truly impartial biography of this increasingly popular voice of liberal Islam.