Apologist for Islamism or an advocate of a tolerant, multi-faith future? Ian Buruma's profile in the NYT magazine provides thoughtful insights into the work of the scholar-turned-activist. Ramadan's anti-capitalist politics sound pretty unreconstructed in a 1968 sort of way. That said, Buruma emphatically clears him of anti-semitism:
Ramadan is in fact one of the few Muslim intellectuals to speak out against anti-semitism. In an article in Le Monde, he wrote: "We have heard the cries of ‘down with the Jews!’ shouted during protest demonstrations, and reports of synagogues being vandalized in various French cities. One also hears ambiguous statements about Jews, their secret power, their insidious role within the media, and their nefarious plans. ... Too rarely do we hear Muslim voices that set themselves apart from this kind of discourse and attitude."
As for those notorious comments about stoning, well, I'm not sure the explanation is all that convincing. But read the whole piece and decide for yourself:
[Nicolas] Sarkozy accused Ramadan of defending the stoning of adulterers, a punishment stipulated in the section of the Islamic penal code known as huddud. Ramadan replied that he favoured "a moratorium" on such practices but refused to condemn the law outright. Many people, including Sarkozy, were outraged. When I talked with Ramadan in London, the mere mention of the word "stoning" set him off on a long explanation.
"Personally," he said, "I’m against capital punishment, not only in Muslim countries, but also in the U.S. But when you want to be heard in Muslim countries, when you are addressing religious issues, you can’t just say it has to stop. I think it has to stop. But you have to discuss it within the religious context. There are texts involved. I am not just talking to Muslims in Europe, but addressing the implementation of huddud everywhere, in Indonesia, Pakistan and the Middle East. And I’m speaking from the inside to Muslims. Speaking as an outsider would be counterproductive.