The Rotterdam city government wants to break ties with the Muslim philosopher Tariq Ramadan, sources at city hall say. Ramadan (46) has been an adviser on integration for the city of Rotterdam for two years. Recently, he has come under criticism because he hosts a weekly talk show on the Iranian TV station PressTV, which is financed by the Tehran regime. The sources at Rotterdam city hall said the board of council executives and the mayor feel Ramadan has lost credibility as an adviser on integration issues.
… 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.
Ramadan has also has been a visiting professor (holding the chair: Identity and Citizenship) at Erasmus University in Rotterdam but other Dutch media reports suggest he will also lose that position in connection with the Iran TV affair.
Ramadan defended himself in a statement to a Dutch newspaper where he said in part:
When I accepted the offer from PressTV, in London – my sole contact was with the British producers who were proposing a concept to the network – I did so on the clear condition that I would be free to select my topics and that I would have full editorial freedom within the parameters of a weekly programme dealing with religion, philosophy and contemporary issues. My method, from the start, has been to explore these issues without lending support to the Iranian regime, and without compromising myself. It has been a choice that many Iranian friends have not only understood, but also encouraged. Money is not a consideration. Another international news network has offered me three times more than what I receive from PressTV, an offer I refused on principle. Were I to change my political and religious beliefs I would be a wealthy man, as anyone who has followed my career well knows. But not for me the flattery of kings and princes, of regimes and of the rich. The price for my political stance has been high; I have never traded on principle. I cannot to travel to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Libya or Syria because of my criticism of these undemocratic regimes that deny the most basic human rights. The United States revoked my visa because of my outspoken condemnation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its unilateral support of Israel. Needless to say, I am considered persona non grata in the Zionist state. Twenty years ago, a staff member from the Chinese embassy gave me to understand that the Beijing authorities were well aware of my commitment to the Tibetans. I have always taken full responsibility for my views; I have never supported either dictatorship or injustice in any Muslim majority society, or anywhere else for that matter. As for those who condemn me ‘on principle’ for hosting a television programme on an Iranian network, I reply: to work for a country’s television network does not mean support of that country’s regime. Were things so straightforward my detractors, those paragons of political virtue, would have long ago insisted that the government of the Netherlands sever all political and economic ties with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel or China. Curiously, their voices are not to be heard, just as when Rotterdam municipality publicly cleared me of the false accusations of ‘doublespeak’ or ‘homophobia’, or, more recently, when an American federal court quashed the decision of a lower court revoking my visa. Why the silence? Why the accusations that seem to fit me alone? The answer is simple: when they single out a ‘visible Muslim intellectual’ for attack, their real agenda is the politics of Muslim-baiting and fear. When it comes to seeking votes, all options are on the table, even the most dishonest and the most scurrilous. I respect my principles far too much to submit to this deceitful propaganda campaign. Not only as a question of personal honour, but in the name of human dignity, and faith in the future
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).