By Amer Taleb
Tariq Ramadan, the professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University whose ban from entering the United States was lifted a little over a year ago, spoke at the South Ballroom in the Student Union Wednesday night April 13th.
His lecture, sponsored by the Middle East and North Africa Graduate Student Association, focused on the different elements at play in the Middle East’s recent uprisings that he says will determine the eventual and unpredictable outcome of the area.
“Something is happening”, Ramadan said of the region, “and it will never be the same.”
Speaking in a dimly lit room without an unused seat in sight, Ramadan focused his lecture on three points he says are being kept out of the global discussion. The region’s economic dimensions, the mass movement’s lack of anti-West slogans and the rebel’s inability to name their list of demands and establish leadership.
Ramadan, 48, distanced himself from coming across as a man carrying the solutions to the unraveling scenarios. “I don’t have all the answers… but I am raising questions, which I still have a lot of.”
He continued by mentioning the role of social media in the region’s revolutions, the complex political agendas at play and how the “U.S. is misleading the world” regarding Political Islam’s role in the anarchy and called it “Propaganda to keep power in the hands of the dictators.”
He ended his lecture by advising the audience to be “optimistic but cautious” about the “unfinished and unachieved revolutions” and to be persistent in questioning “your government to the consistency of its polices when it comes to its values.” He warned continued support of Arab dictators by American politicians could be disastrous and “In the long run you might lose everything. Everything!”
The lecture, which started at 6:45 and ended at 7:45, was followed by a 50-minute Q&A session, Ramadan being presented with a certificate as a “Distinguished Speaker” and a book signing.
Ramadan holds an MA in Philosophy and French literature as well as a PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Geneva and is viewed by many as a polarizing figure. He has engaged in highly acclaimed debates with Christopher Hitchens, the late Sir Bernard Crick and the current President of France, Nicholas Sarkozy among many others.