UK media is reporting that two French ministers will not attend a conference tomorrow on the future of the EU due to the scheduled attendance of Tariq Ramadan. According to a report by The Independent:
07 MAY 2013 He is an Islamic scholar who teaches at Oxford University and a former member of a working group on extremism set up by Tony Blair. Time magazine once described him as the ‘leading thinker’ among Europe’s second and third-generation Muslim immigrants.
Yet two French ministers have suddenly announced that they will not attend a conference in Florence tomorrow on the future of the European Union because of the presence of the scholar, Tariq Ramadan. He is due to be a panellist at the conference, entitled The State of the Union, speaking about ‘migration, identity and integration’.
The French Interior Minister Manuel Valls and Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the Women’s Rights Minister who is also a government spokeswoman, informed organisers on Monday evening that they were pulling out, saying they had ‘not been informed’ of Professor Ramadan’s attendance. The philosopher is a controversial figure who has been accused of advocating violence and for some years was banned from entering France.
A French right-wing MP attending the conference, Bruno Le Maire, told Le Monde: ‘I’m not in the habit of yielding to people whose views I don’t share – I fight them.’ A spokesperson for the European University Institute, which is organising the forum along with Le Monde and the Financial Times, said the French ministers’ decision was ‘regrettable’. Others attending the conference include European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and Labour Party leader Ed Miliband.”
Tariq Ramadan is best described as an independent power center within the Global Muslim Brotherhood who has 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 Contemporary Islamic Studies at the Oxford University (Oriental Institute, St Antony’s College) and also teaches at the Oxford Faculty of Theology. He is Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies, (Qatar) and the University of Malaysia Perlis; Senior Research Fellow at Doshisha University (Kyoto, Japan) and Director of the Research Centre of Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE) (Doha, Qatar). In 2009, Ramadan was dismissed from his positions as an adviser on integration for the city of Rotterdam and from a Dutch University over his role as a talk show host on Iranian TV. A ban on Ramadan traveling to the US was lifted in January 2010 and since then he has appeared a number of times in the US to speak at events organized by various US Muslim Brotherhood organizations. The Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CLIE), headed by Ramadan, was launched in January 2012 and represented a significant coming together of Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders Tariq Ramadan and Youssef Qaradawi.