[Buddha-l] Return of blasphemy?

Curt Steinmetz curt at cola.iges.org
Fri Nov 4 06:58:41 MDT 2011

I suspected that this was a bad idea before the conference ever took 
place. Why did I suspect that? Two words: Tariq Ramadan. Attending any 
sort of a gathering with him seems, to me, to be a violation of that 
most basic Dharmic principle: always keep an open mind, but don't open 
your mind so much that your brains fall out.

Tariq Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al Banna, and Hassan al Banna is 
the guy whose smiling face graces the official logo of the Egyptian 
Islamic Brotherhood (along with a Koran and two crossed swords):

For more on Tariq Ramada, see Caroline Fourest's "Brother Tariq: The 
Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan":

All that being said, I don't pretend to know what His Holiness should do 
and shouldn't do. An essential part of his message as a teacher is the 
promotion of religious tolerance. Unfortunately the idea of religious 
tolerance has been badly mangled to the point that unless one is willing 
to break bread with the Tariq Ramadan's of the world then one is labeled 
an "Islamophobe". Nor is His Holiness in a position to dictate to 
Muslims who should or should not represent them at such gatherings.

Here's an excerpt from the publisher's blurb of Caroline Fourest's book:

"In this incisive and insightful study of the man, well-known French 
writer and journalist Caroline Fourest dissects the public 
pronouncements of Tariq Ramadan. Drawing on his numerous books, articles 
and speeches as sources, she demonstrates with chilling clarity that the 
West has been beguiled by Ramadan’s doublespeak.

"Tariq Ramadan is slippery. He says one thing to his faithful Islamist 
followers and something else entirely to his Western audience. His 
choice of words, the formulations he uses – even his tone of voice – 
vary, chameleon-like, according to his audience. In most people, this 
would be merely funny or irritating, but Tariq Ramadan is too 
influential a figure to be dismissed so lightly.

"Caroline Fourest does an incalculable service. In this long-overdue 
English translation of Brother Tariq she proves, once and for all, that 
Tariq Ramadan is not to be trusted. Ramadan has been portrayed as the 
Martin Luther King of Islam. This study reveals that he is a far more 
sinister character at the forefront of a militant and reactionary Islam."

Curt Steinmetz

On 11/4/11 3:54 AM, Joy Vriens wrote:
> During the Second Global Conference on World's Religions After 9/11
> (http://gcwr2011.org/index.htm) at The Palais des congrès de Montréal on
> September 7, 2011, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, was joined by
> world-famous author Deepak Chopra, Professors Tariq Ramadan, Robert
> Thurman, Steven T. Katz and Gregory Baum who spoke on the theme "Peace
> Through Religion".
> The conference included:
>      A keynote address by the Dalai Lama
>      Talks given by the other participants
>      Panel discussions on the importance of inter-faith education and
>      co-operative action
>      Discussion of a proposed Universal Declaration of Human Rights by
>      The World's Religions,
> The proposed Declaration can be downloaded here :
> http://gcwr2011.org/pdf/UDHRWR_en.pdf
> Fears have been expressed in France (*http://tinyurl.com/3bl7vwm*
> <http://www.agoravox.fr/actualites/religions/article/des-religieux-dalai-lama-compris-100802>
> and *http://tinyurl.com/3bqpawk*), that some articles of the Declaration
> may be interpreted as a wish for the return of the notion of blasphemy.
> More specifically article 12, (4) and (5).
>      ARTICLE 12
>      (1) Everyone has the right to privacy. This right includes the right
>      not to be subjected to arbitrary interference with one's privacy; of
>      one's own, or of one's family, home or correspondence.
>      (2) Everyone has the right to one's good name.
>      (3) It is the duty of everyone to protect the privacy and reputation
>      of everyone else.
>      *(4) Everyone has the right not to have one's religion denigrated in
>      the media or the academia.
>      (5) It is the  duty of the follower  of every  religion to ensure
>      that  no  religion is denigrated in the media or the academia.*
> The Resolutions (http://gcwr2011.org/resolutions.htm) taken by the
> Second Global Conference contain some more potentially problematic ideas
> were they ever to be implemented and made into laws.
>      "Resolved that a course in World's Religions should be taught
>      wherever the confessional study of religion is carried out -- in a
>      seminary, or yeshiva, or madrasah, or Hindu Matha or Buddhist
>      Monastery -- *provided that it has been approved by the apex body of
>      that religion*."
>      Resolved that *violating the sanctity of the scripture of any
>      religion*, amounts to violating the sanctity of the scriptures of
>      all religions.
>      Resolved that the religions of the world should come together to
>      formulate a Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the World's
>      Religions, which would embody their vision of human flourishing, and
>      which would supplement the UN Declaration.
> It all depends on the definitions and on how the resolutions, rights and
> duties would be implemented.  E.g. what does it mean to have "the right
> not to have one's religion denigrated in the media or the academia" ?
> What constitutes a case of denigration of one's religion? How would that
> right be proprely defended? What ought to be understood by "the  duty of
> the follower  of every  religion to ensure that  no  religion is
> denigrated in the media or the academia"? How would it be implemented,
> how would we know a follower has done his/her "duty" in defending
> his/her religion?
> As for the resolutions, what exactly is the "apex body" of a religion
> (dis)approving and controling(?) courses and the way of teaching its
> religion  "wherever the confessional study of religion is carried out "?
> E.g. what would be the "apex body" of Buddhism? What form of control
> would it have to carry out its mission and with what authority? What
> exactly is to be understood by "violating the sanctity of the scripture
> of a religion". One may have a vague idea as long as this concerns
> scriptures that are revelations by divine beings, but how about Buddhist
> scriptures and their sanctity?
> And what is the Dalai-Lama doing in this mess?
> Joy
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