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Grandson of Hassan al-Banna praises reformist movement in Iran


Brussels, Sept 21, IRNA -- One of Europe's leading Islamic thinkers has expressed support for the reformist movement in Iran, saying it is having a good impact on the society in general.

"The reformist movement (in Iran) is ... having a very good impact on the society. This is exactly what we want," Tariq Ramadan told IRNA in an interview in Brussels.

"It is a very good example of a dynamic debate within the Islamic society that they are promoting and things are moving (forward)," said Ramadan, 40, a professor of philosophy and Islamic studies at Geneva College and University of Fribourg, Switzerland.

He is the son of Saeed Ramadan, former director of Islamic Center in Geneva, and grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimoun) in 1928.

Ramadan said reform in Islam has to be based on Islamic principles, but at the same time adapted to our reality and it should confirm to an internal and intra-community dialogue.

"This is what is going on now in Iran. Maybe we are not happy that it is not going faster, but it is still going on and we have to promote this."

Ramadan, who was in Brussels to speak at a conference on Islam in Europe on Friday, works on a campaign to bridge Islamic values and the Western culture.

"There is only one Islam which is the universal religion. We have a set of universal principles. But when we deal with Muamalat (social affairs), there is something that is known by all scholars (and that is) the Islamic principle of integration.

"Everything that does not contradict Islamic principles is part of Islam," he said.

"As we are in the European environment we are taking from the European culture what does not contradict our principles. We are going towards an Islamic European culture."

A Muslim in India, for example, wears different clothes, has a distinctive cuisine, speaks a different language, has a different taste than say a Muslim from an Arab country or Indonesia or Africa.

"This is not to say that we have Islams. We have only one Islam but with different Islamic cultures," stressed Ramadan.

Ramadan's books, mostly in French and English, focus on the issue of integration of about 17 million Muslims in western Europe.

One of his recent books "To Be a European Muslim" reassesses Islamic texts and doctrines.

On the questions of whether Muslims can be loyal citizens to European governments, Ramadan writes that when Muslim immigrants sign a work contract or accept a visa, they also recognize "the binding character of the constitution or the laws of the country they enter into and then live in".

Unless a government specifically contradicts Islamic ways, Muslims are obliged to be loyal citizens and to influence the polity in constructive ways.

In the interview with IRNA, he criticized Europe for speaking as if Islam was a foreign religion coming from abroad.

"We have to make it clear that this is not the reality. They have to accept that Islam is part of Europe. We are European citizens with a Muslim background."

"What we are asking from the European states is 'go back to the real debate with your own citizens with Islamic background and don't promote suspicion and the feeling that there is a Islamic threat in Europe'," he said.

Ramadan said Muslims are the victims of the new security policies in the West, especially after the September 11 terror attack in the US.

However, he said, the Muslims in Europe are now speaking as citizens of Europe and they are asking for their rights.

"The new generation is coming up with confidence. This is new and this is what maybe more threat to the people around us that Muslims will not let others speak in their name. They want to speak for themselves. This is the silent revolution."

He said Muslims living in Europe have a shared responsibility to criticize the undemocratic and un-Islamic ways of some regimes ruling the Arab-Muslim world.

"They must say that this is not the true implementation of Islam. We have to say that these leaderships have nothing to do with Islam.

"We have to tell our governments in Europe that it is not right that you are promoting democracy here, but helping and dealing with so-called Islamic governments that are promoting dictatorships."

"Let us promote for us and for all societies this democratic process; the rule of law," he said.

Ramadan holds an M.A. in Philosophy and French literature as well as a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Geneva. He lives in Geneva where he was born in 1962 and also has an office in Paris.

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