In 2007, Ian Buruma profiled Tariq Ramadan, the high-profile European Muslim professor who’d been denied an entry visa to the United States the prior year, in The New York Times Magazine. Though some see Ramadan as a moderate voice in an increasingly radicalized European Islamic community, others see him as dangerous. Buruma offered a noncommittal assessment, and that seeming insouciance infuriated the writer Paul Berman, who has been examining the liberal response to terrorism and the growth of political Islam for the past decade. In his new book, The Flight of the Intellectuals, he takes Buruma and other writers to task for insufficiently challenging Ramadan and, by failing to do so, becoming apologists for Muslim fundamentalists. (The Flight of the Intellectuals is reviewed in Tablet Magazine today by Christopher Hitchens.)
Berman spoke to Vox Tablet’s Sara Ivry about Ramadan’s family ties (his grandfather founded the Muslim Brotherhood), about the link between Islamism and fascism, and about whether the camps for and against Ramadan parallel the camps that either embrace Israel, flaws notwithstanding, or take every opportunity to criticize it.