Tuesday August 21, 2012
Oxford don: All citizens must have same rights
EQUAL citizenship should be an undisputed principle of democracy, said noted Oxford intellectual Prof Dr Tariq Ramadan.
He said for a nation’s democracy to flourish, there could not be a concept of “minority citizenship” where some citizens were seen as better than others.
“Just because others have been in the country longer, does not mean that they are better citizens. The point is not where you came from but where we are going together.
“All citizens have the same rights and the same duties,” he said during a Penang in Asia lecture titled ‘Islam, Democracy and Human Rights: The Awakening of the Muslim World’ in Penang.
Dr Tariq, who is a Swiss national, said the concept of equal citizenship did not stop at the legal definition.
“It is not good enough to be treated equally under the law. A citizen must also be included as part of the narrative of the nation.”
He said each citizen had three duties to the nation – to observe the rule of law, speak the common language and be loyal to the country.
“Loyalty is about criticising things that I feel are wrong so that community as a whole can improve.
“It is not a blind sense of unity where you accept everything. This type of loyalty can be very dangerous,” he said.
Dr Tariq, the grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, is Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University and also the president of think tank European Muslim Network.
Penang Catholic Bishop Rev Antony Selvanayagam, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu were among those who attended his lecture.