In a July 3 video posted on YouTube, Swiss Islamic academic Tariq Ramadan, currently on leave of absence from Oxford University following allegations of rape, accused MEMRI of deception and lies in reporting his position on FGM. In a previous video posted by Ramadan on his Facebook page, excerpts of which were translated by MEMRI (https://www.memri.org/tv/tariq-ramadan-fgm-part-of-prophetic-tradition), he related to the controversy regarding Virginia-based Imam Sheikh Shaker Elsayed's comments on FGM (https://www.memri.org/tv/dar-al-hijrah-mosque-fairfax-virginia-fgm-prevents-hypersexuality).
Tariq Ramadan: "MEMRI is a so-called media agency, which takes texts from Arab or Muslim sources, and translates excerpts – not all the conferences, but only parts – and disseminates them everywhere on the Internet and on the main channels. What is MEMRI? The head of MEMRI is a former [official], not of the intelligence, but of the Israeli military. He created [MEMRI], which is, in fact, a propaganda tool, which is directly linked to Middle East Watch, or in other words, to Daniel Pipes in the U.S., and to [activist] Caroline Fourest in France. All these people work together. They take these [excerpts] and disseminate them, creating controversy.
"Some Muslims, who are afraid, reacted [to Sheikh Eslayed's comments on FGM]. I didn’t like the fact that they automatically demanded the sheikh's resignation, saying: 'Islam condemns genital mutilation.' One such [mutilation] is circumcision. We used to call it circumcision, but now it is called female genital mutilation – FGM. That's what we call it today. So they said: 'No, no. Islam condemns it!' So how did I respond to this? First of all, I said to the Muslims: 'Don't respond to these media campaigns when you know that the source is MEMRI, those information imposters, propagandists who cut [excerpts]. What I am saying will be corroborated by what they will do with me – the campaign that will take place in the U.S. and France. So they cut the speech – this is what they will be doing to me right now... And the Muslims day: 'He must lose his job.'
"I said: No, I disagree, for two reasons. First of all, what did the sheikh say? Sheikh Shaker [Elsayed] said that [FGM] is part of our tradition. What he meant – and what I meant – is that it is discussed in our tradition, to the point that various scholars in Africa and in the Middle East – even Gad Al-Haq, who was the rector of Al-Azhar University – defended the practice. So you cannot just say, in order to please MEMRI, that this discussion was not a part of a debate of our tradition. Have a modicum of intellectual honesty and courage! Courage is not saying to MEMRI and this entire campaign: 'There's no such thing in our tradition! We must have the sheikh dismissed!' What is true courage? True courage is to accept where you come from in your tradition, and ask as a Muslim, given the scholars' discussion, what position will you take.
"That is what I did. I took my position in full awareness and based on the study of the texts, against FGM. I said: I am aware that certain scholars have defended it, but I myself, going back and studying the texts, say that FGM is not Islamic. So what did they do? They said: 'Tariq Ramadan says that it is part of the Islamic tradition, and needs to be discussed.' What does MEMRI do? They will take this video of mine, cut it and say: 'Tariq Ramadan says that female circumcision is part of Islamic tradition.' Look at the deception! Look at the lie! And who will relay this? The Islamophobes, on the one hand, and the Zionists on the other.
"Look at those who published [this story] in Le Figaro and... Caroline Fourest, and those who used it in the U.S. – even MEMRI... When you go to the Internet, you see MEMRI – the same thing. They did to me exactly what they did to Sheikh Shaker Elsayed."