Tariq Ramadan dances a minuet

Tariq Ramadan explains things.

My position on homosexuality is quite clear…Islam, as Christianity, as Judaism, as even the Dalai Lama…[are] not accepting of homosexuality, saying that this is forbidden according to the principles of our religion…My position, with homosexuals, is to say, “We don’t agree with what you are doing, but we respect who you are,” which I think is the only true liberal position that you can have.

Why no, actually, that’s not the only true liberal position you can have. On the contrary. The true liberal position would be to look carefully at those ‘principles of our religion’ and ask whether they are good principles or not, in secular, human, this-world terms. The true liberal position would be to know that the fact that something is ‘forbidden according to the principles of our religion’ is not necessarily a good reason to disapprove of it, much less to punish or ostracize or threaten it. According to the principles of some (and not a few) religions it is ‘forbidden’ for women to work, or travel without permission, or leave the house. Such ‘principles’ are bad principles and should not be obeyed. The true liberal position would be to realize that no one has managed to offer any real reason for homosexuality to be ‘forbidden’ or for Tariq Ramadan to be telling gay people that he doesn’t agree with what they are doing.

My position on the death penalty, stoning and corporal punishment is once again quite clear. There are texts in the Koran and in the prophetic tradition referring to this. But I have three questions to ask Muslim scholars around the world: What do the texts say, what are the conditions to implement [the punishment], and in which context? As long as you don’t come with a clear answer to this, it’s un-implementable, because what we are doing now is betraying Islam by targeting poor people and women.

Great, isn’t it? ‘There are texts’ – so he can’t (that is, won’t) just say it’s shit and we must have nothing to do with it. No. He has to palter and equivocate and do a little dance. He has to offer a delaying tactic as if it were some bravely defiant stance. Maybe for him in his situation it is, but substantively, it isn’t. Frankly he and his situation aren’t all that important. He may have his reasons for being reluctant to say that stoning is barbaric and should be rejected entirely everywhere in the world – but I don’t care whether he has reasons or not – the important thing is that he didn’t say it. He’s not helpful. He’s certainly not any kind of liberal.

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