Citing “professional reasons”, Muslim Brotherhood figure Tariq Ramadan has turned down the offer of an Islamology Chair at Leiden University in Holland which was to have been financed by the Sultan of Oman at a cost of 2.5 million Euros. In his statement, Ramadan took the opportunity to attack his critics which he called “unscrupulous politicians and journalists”:
I take this opportunity to salute the University of Leiden administration, which without hesitation completed the process of designating the academic best qualified – according to them – to occupy the Chair. Fully aware of the potential criticism their choice might entail, they based their decision entirely upon the academic criteria of competence and experience. I thank them for their courage, and for their expression of confidence. Academic recognition by one of Europe’s most prestigious universities in the field of Islamic Studies has dealt a sharp blow to the rumor campaign directed against me by a handful of unscrupulous politicians and journalists.
Ramadan also went on to criticize the U.S. government who in 2006 denied him a visa to take up a teaching position at Notre Dame University:
I take this opportunity to praise the attitude of the Dutch government, particularly that of the Minister of Education, Mr. Ronald Plasterk, who defended the University’s decision as a matter of academic freedom, affirming that the government had no cause to intervene. I wish only that the current American administration had adopted such a fair and dignified attitude of respect for the principle of free speech for university professors.
Ramadan is an extremely important figure within the global Muslim Brotherhood, perhaps best described as an independent power base with sufficient stature as the son of Said Ramadan, and the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood to challenge positions taken by important Brotherhood leaders. His statements and writings have been extensively analyzed and he has been accused by critics of promoting anti-Semitism and fundamentalism, albeit by subtle means. On the other hand, his supporters promote him as as example of an Islamic reformer who is in the forefront of developing a “Euro Islam.”