Tariq Ramadan explains

Ramadan informs us that Mohamed Merah was neither religious nor political; he was just a confused angry guy flailing around.

He seems to have had very precise aim for someone who was just flailing.

Religion was not Mohamed Merah’s problem – nor was his politics. A French citizen frustrated at being unable to find his place, to give his life dignity and meaning in his own country, he would find two political causes through which he could articulate his distress: Afghanistan and Palestine. He attacked symbols like the army, and killed Jews, Christians and Muslims without distinction.

Wut? Religion was not his problem, nor was politics; it’s just that he found two political (or religious, or religious-political) causes and murdered people for the sake of them. He “articulated his distress” by shooting up a Jewish school, yet that was neither religious nor political.

Politically, he was a young man adrift, imbued neither with the values of Islam, nor driven by racism and anti-Semitism. Young, disoriented, he shot at targets whose prominence and meaning seem to have been chosen based on little more than their visibility.

What visibility? What was so visible about that school?

I think Ramadan is probably right that Merah was no deep thinker. That’s my view of most jihadis. But that’s not the same as being driven neither by Islam nor by racism – on the contrary: Islamist xenophobia and anti-Semitism are very simple-minded. Islamism is crude; Merah was crude; wholesale murder of enemy Others for the sake of a simple-minded “cause” is crude. It’s all crude, but it’s no less religious and political for that. Ramadan the academic of course wants us to think that “the values of Islam” are both profound and benevolent, but alas that’s a hopeless ambition.

A substantial number of French citizens are treated as second-class citizens. Mohamed Merah was French (whose behaviour was as remote from the Qur’anic message as it was from Voltaire’s texts). Is it so difficult to acknowledge this fact? There, indeed, lies the French problem.

Wishful thinking in action.



  1. mnb0 says

    In one way this is pretty good news: Tariq Ramadan is quite an extreme moslim himself and clearly wants to dissociate himself from this kind of violence.
    Of course his entire logic is one big no true moslim fallacy.

    Concerning your last line, I’d like you to quote something from the Koran that is related to Merah’s action. Let me give you a reference:


    Specifically nr. 2. I quote:

    Doesn’t look like Merah obeyed his prophet, does it? The Cracked Article gives references for this.
    Still Merah was nspired by islam – the islam as he saw it. And I’ve read that he got more approval on Facebook than anybody should like.

  2. says

    I think Ramadan just wants to distance Islam and perhaps himself from perceived violence – in other words I think he wants to present an image of Islam as inimical to violence, as opposed to genuinely distancing himself or Islam from violence. He uses his academic training for image work.

  3. Hamilton Jacobi says

    Well if he was French, that’s all right then. Mass murder is fine as long as your Frenchiness is not in question.

  4. BigRed says

    I haven’t followed the story closely enough to be sure that this is the case but wasn’t there the claim that he’d actually been out to kill another soldier and only when that didn’t work out went for the school?


    What visibility? What was so visible about that school?

    In terms of the visibility of the act it doesn’t get much better than school children, so yes, soldiers and school children will be much more visible than random citizens.

  5. dirigible says

    “In terms of the visibility of the act it doesn’t get much better than school children”

    But it does get more probable than Jewish school children.

  6. Roger says

    There are sound muslim arguments for killing children, especially jewish children, actually. Kill them and they get a direct ride to heaven. Don’t kill them and they’ll grow up and probably end up toast- literally and eternally.

  7. Lulu says

    Tariq has been accused in the 1990s’ of anti-Semitism,[http://www.jta.org/news/article/0000/00/00/10932/Antiglobalizationc] and criticized for injecting false ‘victimhood'[http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/its-wrong-to-make-victim-of-child-killer-20120328-1vyqq.html][http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4209729,00.html] in Arab-Islamic Mohamed Merah’s[http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4207446,00.html] racist[http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i7jdZVqPPyy3zZqd0K_qnLCAx9CA?docId=CNG.8bdea6e1fd8bef4adba8e04dfb823ccb.01] [http://www.france24.com/en/20120321-france-shootings-siege-live-report]} Jewish school massacre in March 2012 described as “Nazi-like crimes,” in Al-arabiya.[http://english.alarabiya.net/views/2012/03/29/203955.html]

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