A READER ON THE CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS PRIMARILY BETWEEN THE MUSLIM WORLD AND THE JUDEO-CHRISTIAN WEST, BUT ALSO THE HINDU, THE CONFUCIAN, THE BUDDHIST AND A MYRIAD OF OTHER FAITHS AND DENOMINATIONS WHO SUFFER AT MUSLIM HANDS.
WHEN JOHN ESPOSITO was growing up in New York, he spent the better part of a decade in a Capuchin Franciscan monastery. “I wanted to be ordained but I didn’t see myself spending my entire life in a religious order,” he says. “I missed my family. I had always been attracted to women. I was normal.” About the time Esposito gave up on the priesthood, he found himself in a crowded lift in his mother’s apartment building in Brooklyn. An elderly neighbour asked why he’d left. “I just blurted out, ‘SEX,’ ” says Esposito, laughing. “I married a brilliant blonde the following year.” Now 71, Esposito has nonetheless fulfilled a lifelong vocation involving a subject that is arguably as controversial as sex: Islam. He brings the sense of humour and directness he demonstrated in that lift in Brooklyn to his work as professor of religion, international affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown University, and founding director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the university. The author of more than 35 books, Esposito is also editor-in-chief of at least five Oxford reference works on Islam, including The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World. He was one of the first to warn of what he calls the “social cancer” of Islamophobia, which he compares to anti-Semitism in the US in the 1990s. Post-9/11, with the help of the Gallup organisation and American-Muslim scholar Dalia Mogahed, he spent six years asking Muslims in 35 countries what they thought about politics and Islam and published the results in the 2008 book Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think . Next Thursday, Esposito will deliver the annual Chester Beatty Lecture in Dublin on The Arab Spring and the Future of Muslim-West Relations . He will argue that, as Jews and Christians came together in the wake of the Holocaust to emphasise their common Judeo-Christian heritage, the West must now adopt “the broader Abrahamic vision that recognises the integral place of the descendants of Abraham, Hagar and Ismail – Muslims – as co-equal citizens and believers”. The Arab Spring, the series of revolts against dictators that began in Tunisia in December 2010, then spread to Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and Syria, occurred despite, not because of, western policies. Esposito condemns “the falsity of commonly held stereotypes” that for decades led us to ask, in almost racist fashion: Is Islam compatible with democracy and modernity? Is there something about the religion of Islam and Arab culture that accounts for the kind of regimes they have? As Esposito points out, most Arab dictatorships were propped up by the West. “We bought into those regimes’ logic, which was: we are the only game in town, and any and all opposition are potentially extremists,” he says.
Dr. Esposito, a former U.S. State Department advisor, has espoused views consistent with Brotherhood doctrine and during the 1990′s was known for his claims that Islamic fundamentalism was, in fact, democratic and posed no threat to the U.S. Dr. Esposito has at least a dozen past or present affiliations with global Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas organizations including having served on the advisory board of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in the U.K. headed by Azzam Tamimi, a leader in the U.K. Muslim Brotherhood and often described as a Hamas spokesman. Dr. Esposito has also served with global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi on the Steering Committee of the Circle of Tradition and Progress and enjoyed a close relationship with the United Association For Studies and Research (USAR), part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee and part of the Hamas support infrastructure. In 2005, Saudi prince Alaweed bin Talal, a financial supporter of the global Muslim Brotherhood, donated $20 million to the Center for Muslim Christian Understanding at Georgetown, headed by Dr. Esposito.
Earlier posts also reveal that Dr. Esposito currently also has little problem with Qaradawi; a virulent anti-Semite, known extremist, and spiritual patron of Hamas suicide bombings; with whom he recently appeared on a podium during the launch ceremony for the new Islamic center in Qatar to be headed by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Tariq Ramadan and a close associate of Qaradawi.