The reaction [to the Muhammad caricatures] has been way too severe. I traveled to Denmark back in October and I told Muslim leaders there not to react emotionally, because it would be the reactions and the emotions of the Muslims that would become the center of attention. The best thing would have been for us to take an emotional distance. But now, all you see is angry faces, crying and rage on the television. This is not the way forward for the Muslims.
Of course it started with a few people being hurt by the cartoons. But then a few people took the cartoons to the Middle East. Some governments there were very happy to present themselves as the great champions of Islam. One reason, of course, was to gain legitimacy in the eyes of their own people. But secondly, it was to direct the attention of the people, living under these dictatorial governments, toward the West and to provide their people with a vent for their own frustrations. And it worked -- it became Muslims against the West. All the first reactions from the Islamic majority countries came from those countries (and places) where there is a difficult relationship with the West: Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Gaza, and then Iran. It's more than just the cartoons. It's part of a broader picture that we have to keep in mind.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: What about the Iranian paper's idea to hold a contest to create Holocaust caricatures? Why is every perceived provocation from the West answered by anti-Semitism?
RAMADAN: Muslims have to realize that double standards cannot be allowed. We are confusing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- a political conflict -- with all the Jews. We have to condemn something which is harmful and anti-Semitic. The Holocaust is a deep and hurtful part of the European conscience. Exploiting that, and exploiting a people who were hurt and suffered and treated in a horrific way -- which is what the Holocaust caricature campaign does -- is not acceptable. It is to be condemned.
Wow, what a nutball! Good thing he's been prevented from teaching in this country (under the Dept. of Fatherland Security's wonderfully named "ideological exclusion" provision). Ramadan was subsequently added to noted freedom-hater Tony Blair's taskforce on extremism.