American Muslims must not “be obsessed with Islam meaning ‘terrorism,'” he said, referring to efforts by creators of the popular animated TV show “South Park” to poke fun at Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Mr. Ramadan urged his fellow believers to “take a critical distance” if Islam appears to be mocked in the popular culture.
“For people to ridicule religion is part of Western culture and history,” he said. What’s called for, he said, is for Muslims in non-Muslim-majority countries to abide by the local laws, speak the language and be loyal to the country.
“Muslims don’t need a parallel system,” he said, after being asked whether he favored Islamic Shariah law in the West. “They should just abide by the common system.” Muslims in countries such as Australia and the United States “abide by the law and don’t have a problem,” he said.
Anti-Islamist hysterics have for years warned ominously of “stealth jihad ” — defined by neocon loon Frank Gaffney as “using myriad nonviolent measures to insinuate Shariah into non-Muslim societies.” I suppose Ramadan’s comments here would have to qualify as super double-secret stealth jihad.
This is also pretty significant:
“There is only one Islam,” he said, “but many interpretations and many Muslim cultures.” In the West, he said, “we don’t need new laws on blasphemy.” He was referring to laws in Pakistan that levy heavy sentences on anyone suspected of criticizing Islam. “We don’t want to limit the freedom of expression.”
Muslim societies are far from perfect, he said. “There is no freedom of speech in Muslim-majority countries,” he said. “Because there are no cultural discussions, there’s just emotions.”
That’s a pretty explicit endorsement of pluralism and free speech from one of the leading Islamist thinkers in the world. One could interpret this either as evidence that Islamism is not, as has been claimed, irretrievably hostile to Western freedom, or as just more evidence of how devious the Islamists are.