Dutch media is reporting that opposition members of the Rotterdam City Council are calling for the resignation of Tariq Ramadan as “integration consultant” in connection his hosting of a talk show on Iranian TV. According to one report:
Opposition members in the Rotterdam city council are once again calling for the resignation of integration consultant Tariq Ramadan, this time because he is hosting a talk show on an Iranian TV station. Ramadan, a Swiss Muslim academic of Egyptian descent, was hired by the city of Rotterdam in 2007 to help bridge the divide between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities. He also lectures at Rotterdam’s Erasmus university. In April, the right-wing liberal party VVD resigned from the city executive because of its refusal to sack Ramadan following a controversy concerning homophobic statements Ramadan allegedly made. An investigation by the city executive concluded at the time there were no grounds for the accusations. Now, three opposition parties in the city council – Leefbaar Rotterdam, the Socialist Party and the VVD – are once again calling for Ramadan’s resignation because of his collaboration with the Iranian state TV station Press TV. Ramadan has been hosting a weekly talk show on the English-language Press TV titled ‘Islam & Life’. The ruling Labour party has also said that Ramadan’s work for Press TV affects his credibility, and has asked the city executive for clarification. Leefbaar Rotterdam councilwoman Anita Fähmel said Ramadan’s “Iranian hat” proves once more that he has a “double agenda”. She said it was “unacceptable” that Ramadan is “on the payroll of the dictatorial regime of [Iranian president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, while at the same time he preaches tolerance here in Rotterdam”. Members of the ruling Christian Democrats in the Dutch parliament also asked questions about Ramadan’s involvement with Press TV. The green party GroenLinks, a coalition partner in the Rotterdam city executive, was more cautious. “The Christian Democrats are suddenly demonstrating Wilders-like behaviour for electoral reasons,” said GroenLinks city council member Arno Bonte in a reference to the populist, anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders. “We don’t want any part of that.”
According to another report, Ramadan has commented on the controversy:
In an interview with the AD newspaper on Friday, Ramadan says that he is not connected in any way to the Iranian government and stresses that he has always been free to make his own decisions in terms of the subjects and guests he includes on the show Islam and Life. Ramadan also stresses that the ‘oppression and murder of citizens’ must be condemned, reports the NRC. The comment refers to the allegedly heavy-handed reaction of the Iranian authorities following widespread public protest in July against the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the country’s ruler…. Ramadan told the AD that he will reconsider his position ‘as a free spirit, not under pressure and on the basis of my own principle’ when he returns to Europe in three weeks. He is currently on the island of Mauritius.
An earlier post had reported that Ramdan had been retained as an advisor to the mayor of Rotterdam on issues of multi-culturalism following an investigation into accusations that he had made anti-gay and anti-female statements.
Tariq Ramadan is perhaps best described as an independent power center within the global Brotherhood 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.”
Ramadan is currently professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Theology and senior research fellow at St. Antony’s College (Oxford), Dohisha University (Kyoto, Japan) and at the Lokahi Foundation (London). He is also visiting professor (holding the chair: Identity and Citizenship) at Erasmus University in The Netherlands.