Written by Robert Spencer - FrontPageMag.com
Five years after being barred from the U.S. for making charitable contributions to a group that sent those contributions to the jihad terror group Hamas, internationally renowned Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, often dubbed "the Muslim Martin Luther," will make his first public appearance in America this April after being permitted to enter the country.
The turnabout comes not because Ramadan has been cleared of these charges, but because Secretary of State Clinton has, in the words of State spokesman Darby Holladay, "chosen to exercise her exemption authority for the benefit of Tariq Ramadan."
Holladay disingenuously suggested that the Bush Administration had barred Ramadan from the country because of his opposition to the Iraq War, but no "exemption authority" would have been needed to overturn a ban that had been put in place for that reason. Clinton was exempting Ramadan from prohibitions on supporters of terror groups entering the country.
And ironically, days after the Obama State Department announced the exemption for Ramadan, a Detroit-area Muslim named Mohamad Mustapha Ali Masfaka was arrested at the border while attempting to cross from Canada back into the United States. His crime? Lying to the FBI and immigration officials about his work with the Holy Land Foundation, formerly the largest Islamic charity in the United States, which has now been shut down for funneling charitable contributions to Hamas.
So what is the difference between Tariq Ramadan and Mohamad Mustapha Ali Masfaka? They have both allegedly been disingenuous about their ties to a Hamas charity, and yet Ramadan is free to enter the United States and Masfaka is under arrest. So what unique and compelling benefit does Tariq Ramadan bring to the U.S. that would move Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to bend their own anti-terror rules and make this exemption for him?
The answer, of course, is that Tariq Ramadan is internationally famous as a voice of Islamic moderation - and a vocal critic of the Bush Administration's Middle East policies, which the Obama Administration very much wants to subject to public criticism. Mohamad Mustapha Ali Masfaka, in contrast, toils in relative obscurity and offers the Obama Administration no such political fringe benefits. Ramadan represents the kind of Muslim who should respond most favorably to Obama's recurring pleas for a new relationship based on mutual respect: urbane, sophisticated, Westernized, closely identified with Islamic moderation and reform. In fact, Holladay explained the exemption for Ramadan in terms that specifically recalled Obama's repeated appeals: "Both the president and the secretary of state have made it clear that the US government is pursuing a new relationship with Muslim communities based on mutual interest and mutual respect."
However, there are cracks in Ramadan's faÃ§ade that should have raised eyebrows even in Obama's State Department. Ramadan is the grandson of Hasan Al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood - an international Islamic supremacist organization that is dedicated, in its own words (according to an internal Brotherhood document captured in a raid of the Holy Land Foundation), to "eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within and sabotaging its miserable house." French journalist Caroline Fourest, who has published a book-length study of Ramadan's sly duplicity, Brother Tariq, concludes that this much-lionized putative Muslim Martin Luther is actually anything but a reformer: in reality, Ramadan is "remaining scrupulously faithful to the strategy mapped out by his grandfather, a strategy of advance stage by stage" toward the imposition of Islamic law in the West.
Ramadan, she explains, in his public lectures and writings invests words like "law" and "democracy" with subtle and carefully crafted new definitions, permitting him to engage in "an apparently inoffensive discourse while remaining faithful to an eminently Islamist message and without having to lie overtly - at least not in his eyes." Ramadan, she said, "may have an influence on young Islamists and constitute a factor of incitement that could lead them to join the partisans of violence."
In light of Ramadan's smooth duplicity, his new welcome into the U.S. is a fitting symbol for the entire catastrophe of the Obama Administration's policy toward the Middle East and Islamic terror. Obama reaches out to the Islamic world, assuming that his overtures will be welcomed by voices of reason and restraint. But in making this appeal, Obama drastically underestimates the jihad threat and mistakes all too many enemies for friends. And so now he also underestimates and misevaluates Tariq Ramadan, with consequences that no one can foretell at this point, but which are not likely to be positive.
Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of ten books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, The Complete Infidel's Guide to the Koran, is available now from Regnery Publishing, and he is coauthor (with Pamela Geller) of the forthcoming book The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration's War on America (Simon and Schuster).