Malise Ruthven Christopher Caldwell's Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West and Tariq Ramadan's What I Believe, in the NYRB:
The tone is lofty, the language high-minded. It is the preacher, rather than the intellectual, who speaks. Ramadan does not stoop to engage directly with his critics. As he grandly writes in his introduction, “I will not waste my time here trying to defend myself.” This is a pity. The charges of doublespeak against Ramadan are not just based on what he describes as “double-hearings,” malicious, deliberate, or otherwise. The claims of his most trenchant critic, the French journalist Caroline Fourest, are specific and detailed and documented, based on the tapes of Ramadan's lectures to youthful Muslim audiences as well as his published writings.
Fourest presents Ramadan as a fundamentalist wolf in reformist clothing, a position at variance with his declared advocacy of a “critical intellectual attitude” toward Islamic tradition. Most of her charges depend on family links he refuses to abjure—his maternal grandfather Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, his Islamist father Said Ramadan, and especially his brother Hani, a more strident critic than Tariq of “Europe's atheistic materialism” who has publicly justified the stoning of adulteresses “as a punishment” that is also “a purification.” Tariq, by contrast, notoriously argued in a 2003 television debate with Nicolas Sarkozy that the penalty of stoning should merely be subject to a “moratorium” while scholars debated the issue.
Other troubling details that emerge from Fourest's vigilant, even obsessive, trawl through the Ramadan canon include explicit condemnations of Kant and Pascal and fence-sitting, not to say “double-talk,” on Darwinism. A work published by the Islamist publishing house with which he is closely associated explicitly denies evolution, while his audiotapes advocate creationism as a “complementary instruction” to the teaching of evolution in schools. Yet when asked in a television interview whether he accepted evolutionary theory, he “preferred to agree,” rather than express his true convictions in front of the general public.