In an important development for the fight against extremist Islam in the West, the Dutch city of Rotterdam and Erasmus University Rotterdam have dismissed Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss-born Islamist academic, from his two local jobs.
Born in Switzerland, Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the radical Muslim Brotherhood. He is a close associate of the fundamentalist Muslim theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi, with whom he collaborates in the so-called European Council for Fatwas and Research [ECFR], a Brotherhood-oriented body. Al-Qaradawi is the leading theorist of a "European Islam" that would abuse Western standards of religious freedom by erecting a parallel system of Shariah law alongside established civil law, coupled with aggressive da'wa or Islamic proselytizing. Ramadan has endorsed this strategy. The ECFR scheme, and Tariq Ramadan's involvement in it, are documented in the recent Center for Islamic Pluralism report, A Guide to Shariah Law and Islamist Ideology in Western Europe, 2007-2009.
Ramadan has been barred from entry into the U.S. since 2004, when he was invited by the University of Notre Dame to become the Henry R. Luce Professor at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. That ruling was based on Ramadan's financial contributions to two Palestinian groups designated by the U.S. Treasury as fundraising agencies for the terrorists of Hamas. Early in July of this year, however, given the new atmosphere of outreach to Muslim radicals under President Barack Obama, the Second Circuit U.S. Appeals Court reversed the lower-court ruling, effectively nullifying the prohibition on an American visa for Ramadan.
Meanwhile, Britain in 2005 allowed Ramadan to take up a position at Oxford University, where he is the His Highness Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Chair in Contemporary Islamic Studies.
Ramadan is an indefatigable self-promoter. Few who have observed him paid attention to his work in The Netherlands as an integration adviser for the city of Rotterdam and a professor of "Citizenship and Identity" at Erasmus University.
Yet while the U.S. authorities now seem inclined to allow him on our shores, and Britain appears untroubled by his presence - although the UK bars his associate al-Qaradawi - the Dutch have taken action to curb Ramadan's ambitions.
His simultaneous dismissal from the Rotterdam city post and the Erasmus appointment was announced on August 19. The specific reason: his weekly television program on PressTV, an Iranian government media network which operates studios in Britain and the U.S. in addition, of course, to the Middle East. PressTV also employs British politician George Galloway of the leftist-Islamist electoral alliance known as the Respect Party, and Yvonne Ridley, a former captive of the Taliban who became Muslim after her kidnapping.
Ramadan's PressTV show was titled "Islam and Life" -- not very different, one might note, from the notorious "Shariah and Life" feature run by al-Qaradawi on Al-Jazeera. Al-Qaradawi has used that platform for outrageous sermons against Jews and Judaism, among other objectionable opinions that support the British decision to keep him out.
In an official statement, Erasmus University stated:
The Municipality of Rotterdam and the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) have decided to terminate the appointment of Dr. Tariq Ramadan... The reason for this is his involvement in the Iranian television channel PressTV, which is considered to be irreconcilable with his positions in Rotterdam...
Press TV is a channel financed by the Iranian government. The excessive force used by this government in June against demonstrators, many of whom were students, prompted a number of journalists to cut their ties with the channel. However, Tariq Ramadan chose not to do so, and has since justified his decision in a statement...[T]here is no longer the essential public support for the contribution to the city and the university and...the credibility of Dr. Ramadan's continued work for the city and the university has suffered lasting damage.
Tariq Ramadan has always been extremely capable in his manipulation of Western public opinion, but the problematical items on his CV are not limited to his link with PressTV. As if his association with Al-Qaradawi were insufficient, Ramadan was also criticized in France in 2003 when he published a Jew-baiting attack on several leading French intellectuals, including Bernard-Henri Lévy and André Glucksmann. Ramadan claimed it was "curious" that that these two individuals were the most important Western European defenders of the Bosnian Muslims during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, as well as of the human rights of the Chechens, but also supported the U.S. intervention in Iraq. According to Ramadan, the removal of Saddam Hussein was intended to guarantee "a greater security for Israel with assured economic advantages."
In the same article, Ramadan falsely alleged that Israeli military advisers participated in the Iraq war, and labeled Paul Wolfowitz the "notorious Zionist" allegedly responsible for the invasion of Iraq in the interest of Israel. He accused Lévy and Glucksmann of abandoning universal principles and acting "as Jews, or nationalists, as defenders of Israel." Publication of this screed was refused by the Parisian dailies Le Monde and Libération, but it was eventually posted on an Islamist website, http://www.oumma.com/.
Tariq Ramadan hides his extremist views in plain sight. Why do the British and now, unfortunately, the American authorities fail to comprehend the evidence in front of them? The U.S. ban on him should be reviewed again... and upheld.
Stephen Schwartz is executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism. This article was sponsored by Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum .