Here I thought that only the Bush administration ham-handedly overreacted to the alleged threat of Muslim militantcy by denying Tariq Ramadan a visa to teach at Notre Dame. Now, a Dutch university and city have engaged in the same type of ludicrous conduct in firing Tariq Ramadan from a teaching job at the school and from a job helping the city to encourage the intergration of Muslim residents into communal life. Ramadan’s offense: he conducts a TV show about Islam on the Iran-backed Press TV. Apparently, in doing so Ramadan has somehow become an apologist for “mad mullahs” who stole the recent presidential election:
The controversial Islamic theologian Tariq Ramadan has been fired from two jobs in the Netherlands for allegedly endorsing the Iranian regime by hosting a chat show on a Tehran-backed TV channel.
Mr Ramadan…has dismissed the decisions as “simplistic” and driven by the “Islamophobia” generated in Dutch politics by the populist campaigner Geert Wilders.
…The city of Rotterdam and the Erasmus University based in the city have jointly decided to dismiss him from his posts as community adviser and visiting lecturer on religion. This follows several days of heated debate in the Netherlands about Mr Ramadan’s position as a presenter of a political chat show on Press TV, a London-based, Iranian-backed satellite TV channel.
In a joint statement, the city and the university criticised Mr Ramadan for remaining host of Islam and Life despite the “hard-handed stifling” of opposition to the results of the July elections. They said that he had “failed sufficiently to realise the feelings that participation in this television program… might provoke in Rotterdam and beyond”.
This, of course is preposterous reasoning because Ramadan has specifically denounced the Iranian regime’s behavior in rigging the election. His show too is a free-wheeling one which tackles all manner of issues related to Islam and by no means whitewashes either Islam in general or Iran in particular.
The Islamic scholar has struck out against his detractors and plans to take them to court. He defends himself:
…Dismissing the allegations as driven by Dutch politics rather than a TV programme devoted to “critical debate” on Islam.”…It is as if I in particular, and Islam in general, were being used to promote certain political agendas in the upcoming Dutch elections. Geert Wilders, who wins votes while comparing the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, casts a long shadow.”
Mr Ramadan said that he had publicly criticised the repression of opposition in Iran and supported the country’s “long march… toward transparency and respect for human rights”. His TV show was committed to “critical debate”. His guests had included “atheists, rabbis, priests, women with and without headscarves”. They had debated issues such as “freedom, reason, interfaith dialogue…and jihad…I challenge my critics to scrutinise these programmes and in them to find the slightest evidence of support for the Iranian regime.”
At least two people with divergent political views who I know and respect have been guests on Press TV: Dan Fleshler and Juan Cole. [CORRECTION: Juan Cole has not been interviewed on Press TV, but Zbigniew Brzezinski, Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky, among others, have.] Does this mean that they too have drunk the Kool Aid and become raving defenders of the Iranian regime? C’mon. As I said above, this is ludicrous. If a Muslim scholar were to host a regular show on Voice of America does this mean that he would be an American stooge and defender of every outrage perpetrated by this country against Muslims?
Apparently, Rotterdam’s mayor is Muslim and I’m guessing that this is an attempt by his political opponents to embarrass him. In fact, this entire episode may be more about the mayor and Ramadan may only be a useful foil for the anti-Islamist right.
If he hasn’t already written about this, someone pick up the phone and tell Daniel Pipes that the Islamists have been vanquished at the dikes of the Zuider Zee just before their onslaught on all of European civilization. Thank God some [Christian] God-fearing souls were willing to stand up against Trojan Horses like Ramadan, who sweet talk their way into the salons of the effete liberal-class, thus dissolving their will to hold the breach against the Mohammedan horde.