‘Frère Tariq : Discours, stratégie et méthode de Tarik Ramadan (Brother Tariq : Rhetoric, Strategy and Method of Tariq Ramadan' by Caroline Fourest : Bernard Grasset Grasset 2004, 425 pp in French.

Ramadan is a highly controversial figure with devoted followers and tenacious detractors. Is he indeed the harbinger of a new, modern Islam, ready for progress while adhering to the basic tenets of the faith, and hence the great hope of millions of Muslims living in Europe today' Is he truly the victim of relentless attacks motivated by the hatred of Islam or inspired by the Jews and the Zionists as he has been heard to say' Or is he in fact, and despite of his frequent denials, the standard bearer of the Muslim Brothers, member of a shadowy movement aiming to take over Europe from within and turn it into a Muslim society'

It is partly to answer these questions that Caroline Fourest wrote ‘Frere Tariq'. She brings solid academic credentials to her own brand of investigative journalism. A graduate of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences sociales et en Sciences politiques and has carved a niche for herself in the elite field of the study of religions and their impact on global politics. Althoug in 1997 she founded ‘Prochoix', an association dedicated to promoting a largely feminist agenda , and it is through this unlikely route that she came to focus on religions and especially on religious fanaticism.

THE ART OF Taqqiya

In researching the topic of Tarik Ramadan, Fourest worked her way through dozens of tapes, 15 books and more than 1500 pages of interviews and reviews. The name she gave her book, ‘Brother Tariq', is a not too subtle reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, and clearly indicates the conclusion she reached.

Demonstrating her view, however is not easy. As Fourest repeatedly acknowledges and Tarik Ramadan is a consummate debater and a master of the innuendo and difficult to pin down. The lengthy analysis of the Muslim Brotherhood with which the book opens is easily its best part. Step by step Fourest retraces the itinerary of Hassan el Banna, who founded the movement in 1928 - at the age of 22 - and was assassinated in 1949. She clarifies the movement's ultimate objective and planned means to achieve it, quoting Banna's ‘Epistle to the youth'. ‘Allah is our goal; Allah's messenger is our guide, the Koran is our constitution. Effort is our way. Death on the path of Allah is our ultimate wish ‘. With a series of quotations she demonstrates that notwithstanding his denials, Tarik Ramadan follows closely in his grandfather's footsteps, and does not hesitate to practise the art of ‘taqqiyya', that is, lying or dissimulating in order to further the ultimate goal. That involves implementing Banna's vision in Europe with the help of the millions of Muslims now living there. The Sharia will be the law of the land, separate boys and girls will study in separate schools and all dissenters will be suppressed.

Although Fourest vehemently builds a strong case but her presentation lacks structure. She does not tell us enough about Tariq as an individual. The details she gives about his education and his career are sketchy and scattered throughout the book. Regarding the tenets of Islam and currents trend in Islamic society, the details are overabundant and a reader not conversant in the subject may sometimes get lost in them. There are also factual errors as when Fourest writes that the Brotherhood decided to assassinate Egyptian president Anwar because he ‘ wanted to reestablish diplomatic relations with Israel' . Yet, on the whole this is a fascinating book that opens a door on the enigmatic Tariq Ramadan.

Reviewed by Michèle Mazel To read more : http://www.jcpa.org/jpcont.htm