Islamic scholar hits out over sacking

Dutch authorities fire Swiss intellectual and TV anchor over links to Iran

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, already persona non grata in the United States, has dismissed the decisions as "simplistic" and driven by the "Islamophobia" generated in Dutch politics by the populist campaigner Geert Wilders.

The Swiss writer, lecturer and theologian, 46, has been frequently accused of preaching a moderate "European" Islam to Western audiences and taking a more extreme line when talking to fellow Muslims. He has been hailed by his admirers as an "Islamic Martin Luther", capable of reconciling the Koran with democracy and Western modernity, and attacked by critics as an anti-Semite and terrorist fellow traveller.

Mr Ramadan has, nonetheless, become one of the most influential Islamic voices in the world. He has been given a series of high-profile jobs by European institutions and governments, including a place on a task force set up by Tony Blair in 2005 to combat Islamic extremism in Britain.

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".

In an open letter on his website, Mr Ramadan has dismissed the allegations as driven by Dutch politics rather than a TV programme devoted to "critical debate" on Islam.

"Should we be surprised that this latest accusation has surfaced only in the Netherlands?" he wrote.

"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, Sunni versus Shia Islam, violence, jihad, love and art".

"I challenge my critics to scrutinise these programmes and in them to find the slightest evidence of support for the Iranian regime."

Mr Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, one of the founders of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, while his great uncle, Gamal al-Banna, was a prominent liberal Islamic reformer.

Critics point to a puzzling ambivalence in some of Mr Ramadan's teachings and writings, reflecting the influence of both his grandfather and his great uncle.

He argues for a "European Islam" which will respect European traditions and laws but he also speaks of the supremacy over secular law of the Koran and sharia. In 2003 he refused, during a TV debate with the future president Nicolas Sarkozy, to condemn the use of stoning as capital punishment but called for a "moratorium" on it.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
Tattoo enthusiast Cammy Stewart poses for a portrait during the Great British Tattoo Show
In picturesThe Great British Tattoo Show
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?