Sunday, March 25, 2007

Update on the Arrest of Tariq Ramadan

Subjected to an Althusserian Interpellation?
"Interpellé et placé en garde à vue..."
(Image from "Innovators" at

Over at The Terror Finance Blog, Jean-Charles Brisard posted a March 16th update on the arrest of that pillar of European Islam, Tariq Ramadan, in Paris's Roissy Airport on March 12 for "offensive misconduct" -- including some insulting epithets hurled forcefully enough by Ramadan to land in the report below (for which I issue the standard faintheart alert):
UPDATE: Tariq Ramadan in his own words: According to the own Tariq Ramadan’s account of his detention in Paris last week, published by a Swiss newspaper today, he acknowledged he insulted a policewoman, calling her a "bitch" after she stopped him from going through a security gate without a boarding pass. When a second police officer arrived to assist the first, Ramadan admitted he shouted "you are real bastards". Ramadan claims he had to spend the whole night in a dirty cell because of the police "overzealousness".
Brisard was thoughtful enough to provide a link to site that has posted the article from the Tribune de Genève for Tuesday, March 20, 2007:
Tariq Ramadan interpellé en France

L'Intellectuel genevois Tariq Ramadan a été interpellé à l'aéroport parisien de Roissy le 12 mars, pour avoir insulté des fonctionnaires de police. Il a passé une nuit au commissariat. «Dans une cellule pourrrie», dit-il.

Le quotidien français Le Figaro a révélé qu'en transit pour Londres à Roissy, l'intellectuel a emprunté un chemin non autorisé, ce que lui a fait remarquer une fonctionnaire de police.

Tariq Ramadan l'a alors insultée à deux reprises. La jeune femme a porté plainte.

Interpellé et placé en garde à vue, l'homme est poursuivi pour «outrage». Il est convoqué le 6 avril par le Parquet de Bobigny.

Joint hier par téléphone, Tariq Ramadan raconte sa version de l'histoire. «J'arrivais de Mulhouse avec 35 minutes de retard. Il me restait 3 minutes pour attraper le vol pour Londres. Très fatigué après un week-end chargé, je courais d'un terminal à l'autre. A un endroit, on doit présenter sa carte d'embarquement pour entrer dans une zone, hors Schengen. Je n'avais que mon passeport. Mais l'employé m'a quand même fait passer. Puis une dame m'a barré la route. Je lui ai expliqué la situation, que je n'avais que 2 minutes pour prendre mon avion, mais elle m'a montré la file à suivre. En ajoutant «la loi c'est la loi», avec un sourire sournois. C'est le sourire qui m'a énervé.»

«Je suis passé, elle m'a couru après. Et là, je lui ai dit: «Vous êtes conne, Madame.» Un collègue est arrivé, je lui ai redit qu'il s'agissait d'une erreur de leur part. Il m'a affirmé que non et que j'allais rater mon avion. Excédé, j'ai lâché: «Vous êtes vraiment deux connards.» Je n'aurais pas dû. Ce sont deux mots malvenus. Mais ce que j'ai pu entendre après! Un policier m'a poussé dans la voiture bruutalement puis m'a insulté: «Je m'en bats les c ... et je t'emm ... » J'ai passé la nuit dans une cellule pourrie pour un excès de zèle inutile. C'est une expérience qui rappelle qu'on n'est jamais à l'abri de rien.»
From my lack of time (i.e., sheer laziness), I again implored the Big Homind's assistance in translating the French, and the big guy with the big brain and even bigger heart complied, doing this over his Friday lunch break (a really big sacrifice for a food blogger like the Big Ho):
Tariq Ramadan Arrested in France

The Genevese intellectual Tariq Ramadan was arrested in the Parisian airport of Roissy on March 12 for having insulted two police officers. He spent the night in a police station, "in a rotten cell," he says.

The French daily Le Figaro revealed that, while at Roissy in transit for London, the intellectual took an unauthorized route through the airport and was told so by a policewoman. Tariq Ramadan then insulted her twice. The young woman filed a complaint.

Arrested and placed in custody, Ramadan was charged with "offensive misconduct." He has been summoned to appear before the Criminal Court of Bobigny on April 6.

Joined yesterday by telephone, Tariq Ramadan recounted his version of events.

"I was coming in from Mulhouse 35 minutes late. I had three minutes to catch the flight to London. Very tired after a full weekend, I was running from one terminal to another. In one place, you have to present your boarding pass to enter the out-of-Schengen zone [NB: "hors Schengen" = outside of countries participating in the Schengen Convention; countries that signed this convention allow free, uninspected passage from one member country to another. England doesn't participate in this agreement.]. I had only my passport with me, but the employee let me pass through, anyway. Then a woman blocked my way. I explained the situation to her, that I had only two minutes to get on my flight, but she directed me toward the path I was supposed to follow. Then she added, "The law is the law" with a sly smile. It's the smile that annoyed me.

"I passed on; she ran after me. And there, I said to her, "Ma'am, you are a bitch." A coworker showed up and I told him again that this was their problem, not mine. He said no, it wasn't, and that I was going to miss my plane. This was too much, so I blurted, "You really are two a**holes." I shouldn't have said that; that was the wrong thing to say. But the things I heard after that! A policeman brutally shoved me into the police car and insulted me -- 'I don't give a f*ck' and 'F*ck you!' I spent the night in a rotten cell for needless overzealousness. This is an experience that reminds us that we're not safe from anything."
Reminds "us"? As in "us passengers"? Or "us Muslims"? Many of "us passengers" would side with the "Ideological State Apparatus" on this one and insist that anyone trying to slip through an airport security system be interpelled by an official crying out "Hey you!"

Without that official zealousness, we're not safe from anything.

Actually, I do feel rather sorry for Ramadan because I can imagine overreacting in such a situation. Indeed, I don't have to imagine, for I've cursed a few times myself in frustration under comparable circumstances -- but not quite so vociferously as Mr. Ramadan.

So, Tariq, you have my sympathies.

Unfortunately, the law is definitely the law in this case, for airlines have had to become extremely careful ever since 9/11, as you should know very well. The employee who let you through was a nice guy but decidedly in the wrong for being so lenient as to allow a security breach.

I'd prefer that airport security be zealous beyond the zealots...



At 1:00 AM, Blogger Hathor said...

Thanks for clarifying what had happened. Its just that I had heard that French police can be abusive in situations where it is not called for.

At 3:49 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I think that police everywhere have that tendency, a danger that comes with the authority that gives them power over others. The one who shoved Ramadan into a police car and cursed him sounds like the type.

What I find admirable about Ramadan in this instance is that he admitted what he had said, unlike the flying imams whom we've been hearing about lately.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The recent news report about the two Iraq children who were blown up in the backseat of a booby-trapped car after the adult occupants fled should put to rest any notions about "common sense" in profiling terrorists. The media was also reporting that a terrorist ring busted in Britain? had planned to put explosives in baby bottles.

I do not worry about terrorism. I do expect people who work in security and law enforcement to enforce regulations equally with all people in the public space.

At 10:35 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Right. We're dealing with some very ruthless individuals, so the rules need to be well-formulated and uniformly applied.

That said, I don't think that Tariq Ramadan is himself personally a terrorist threat.

But he still has to follow the rules, despite being a famous person.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:06 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Hey Jeffery,

Tariq Ramadan was going to be a professor at Notre Dame, I believe starting this year. He'd already chosen the schools for his kids and signed a lease, but the US wouldn't allow him in. I believe the reason given was that he supported some Palestinian terrorist group 10 or 15 years ago. So, an opportunity for dialogue between a Muslim scholar and American students and professors was lost.

I agree with you that the security in the airport were doing their jobs, as they should be, and he should have been put back in line and perhaps even searched, but all the same, airports can be nightmarish. Throwing someone in a jail cell for calling someone a name seems a little extreme.

At 8:36 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Good to hear from you again, HR. I thought that you might be visiting when I saw on the site meter that someone from Our Lady was online.

I recall the incident about his visa being revoked after he had made all his arrangements to come to Notre Dame. At the time, I thought that he should have been allowed in despite his political views.

I'm less certain now, given the views of Erdal, a secular Turkish scholar in Germany who sometimes posts comments here and who informs me that there's little doubt that Ramadan is a closet Islamist with some sort of links to advocates of terrorism (though I'm not clear on the details).

I'd still support his position at Notre Dame if I thought that the students knew enough about Islam and Islamism to press him on his views.

As for his arrest, if it's merely for insulting the officers, then the arrest offends my views on free speech (though speech is not so free in Europe as in America), but if the arrest was for a continued refusal to follow the law, then it was probably justified.

I suspect that we'll be hearing more about this.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:25 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

I've never actually read any of his books, just an article a while ago about how he's not a secularist, but encourages Muslim youth to interact non-violently with the "West", if we can even call it that anymore, and I believe he's spoken out explicitly against terrorism. We definately made a lot of people at Oxford happy by not allowing him to come here. I'm doing a project this summer on the role of Islam in North-African francophone novels, so I'm going to try to read up on him and any other Muslim scholars that seem to have interesting things to say about Islam, the Muslim world, Europe and America. Until the next time!


At 10:01 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, let me know what you discover.

Jeffery Hodges

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