Swiss Muslim philosopherTariq Ramadan is to sue Rotterdam city council over its decision to sack him as its advisor on integration issues, the academic told Radio 1 news.
The council decided yesterday to end its contract with Ramadan because he presents a weekly tv programme in Iran, paid for by the Iranian government. This has undermined his credibility and lends support to the authorities there, the NRC quoted city council sources as saying.
Ramadan told the radio programme he had not been told personally about his sacking and that the decision was prompted by the political climate in Rotterdam. Anti-Muslim parties are currently the most popular in the port city, which has a high immigrant population.
It was totally ‘unacceptable’ and ‘unbelievable’ that he is being accused of supporting the Iranian regime, Ramadan said. The decision to sue the council is not about money but about ‘honour and credibility’, he said.
Erasmus University, where Ramadan is a visiting professor, has also asked him to distance himself from the tv programme, Ramadan said. According to his website, Ramadan is also a profesor of Islamic studies at Oxford University and a research fellow at Doshisha University in Japan.
In a commentary on Ramadan’s sacking, Trouw newspaper wrote: ‘In practical terms, the three-year relationship between Ramadan and Rotterdam has not been happy. He did not and does not speak a word of Dutch, and that is not useful for someone brought in to build bridges [between people] in an unknown city and to advise on integration.’
Politicians from across the political spectrum have backed the sacking. ‘Rotterdam must not run the risk of being connected to the… despicable Iranian regime,’ left-wing green councillor Arno Bonte told news agency ANP.
In April, two Liberal executives on Rotterdam city council resigned in protest at the council’s support for Ramadan. The officials were angry at remarks about women and homosexuals apparently made by Ramadan several years ago and quoted by newspaper Gay Krant. A council investigation into the statements found the paper’s allegations were groundless.
For an open letter on Ramadan’s website, click here
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