An Open Letter to my Detractors in The Netherlands
By Tariq Ramadan
Tuesday 18 August 2009
Once again I have come under attack in The Netherlands. Last May and June, I was accused of "doublespeak", of "homophobia" and of demeaning women. Upon investigation, Rotterdam Municipality declared the accusations unfounded. Today, the argument goes, I am linked to the Iranian regime; I support the repression that followed the recent elections. Should we be surprised that this latest accusation has surfaced only in The Netherlands? 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 Qur’an to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, casts a long shadow. I am cast as the cause of an outburst of political passions that is far from healthy. But the present controversy says far more about the alarming state of politics in The Netherlands than about my person.
The attacks on my involvement have been extremely violent; to them, I will respond with utmost clarity. When, in April 2008 I agreed to host a television program on PressTV, the Iranian worldwide 24-hour news network, the decision followed three months of careful evaluation, as well as discussions with Iranian friends and media experts. Over time I have closely followed political developments and growing internal tensions in Iran. I was among the first Muslim thinkers in the West to oppose the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. For the past twenty-five years, while observing that compared to the Arab countries Iran has made substantial headway in women’s rights and democratic norms, I have been critical of the lack of freedom of expression there, of the obligation for women to wear the headscarf, and, more recently, of the 2006 Holocaust conference (which dangerously blurred the lines between criticism of Israeli policy and anti-Semitism). It goes without saying that I have condemned the shooting of demonstrators and the repression that followed the June elections.
My position has always been one of constructive criticism. I have devoted much of my time to studying the internal dynamics of the Iranian political system. I refuse to be swayed by propaganda claims, either from the Iranian regime, or from Israel (which asserts, all the while proclaiming its innocence, that Iran is the main obstacle to peace), from the United States or the European countries, all of whose strategic interests are involved. In Iran, the relationship between religion and politics is extremely complex. The simplistic view that posits two opposing camps-the fundamentalist conservatives versus the democratic reformists-displays a profound ignorance of Iranian reality. Moreover, no evolution toward democratic transparency can take place under pressure from the West: the process will be internal, lengthy and painful.
When I agreed to host a television program on Islam and contemporary life, I chose the path of critical debate. I accepted no obligations. My guests have included atheists, rabbis, priests, women with and without headscarves, all invited to debate issues like freedom, reason, interfaith dialogue, Sunni versus Shi’a Islam, violence, jihad, love, art, to name only a few. I challenge my critics to scrutinize these programs and in them to find the slightest evidence of support for the Iranian regime. My program proclaims its openness to the world; all guests are treated with equal respect.
Today, as Iran is torn by crisis, I intend to take all the time necessary to make the proper decision. All the facts must be carefully weighed in order to devise the optimum strategy for supporting the long march, in Iran, toward transparency and respect for human rights. Violent polemics and overheated debate of the kind we see today in The Netherlands lead nowhere. Before deciding on a course of action, I am determined to form a fully rounded picture.
When I accepted the offer from PressTV Ltd., in London (my sole contact was with the British producers who were proposing a concept to the network), I did so on the clear condition that I would be free to select my topics and that I would have full editorial freedom within the parameters of a weekly program dealing with religion, philosophy and contemporary issues. My method, from the start, has been to explore these issues without lending support to the Iranian regime, and without compromising myself. It has been a choice that many Iranian friends have not only understood, but also encouraged. Money is not a consideration. Another international news network has offered me three times more than what I receive from PressTV, an offer I refused on principle. Were I to change my political and religious beliefs I would be a wealthy man, as anyone who has followed my career well knows. But not for me the flattery of kings and princes, of regimes and of the rich. The price for my political stance has been high; I have never traded on principle. I cannot to travel to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Libya or Syria because of my criticism of these undemocratic regimes that deny the most basic human rights. The United States revoked my visa because of my outspoken condemnation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its unilateral support of Israel. Needless to say, I am considered persona non grata in the state of Israel. Twenty years ago, a staff member from the Chinese embassy gave me to understand that the Beijing authorities were well aware of my commitment to the Tibetans.
I have always taken full responsibility for my views; I have never supported either dictatorship or injustice in any Muslim majority society, or anywhere else for that matter. As for those who condemn me "on principle" for hosting a television program on an Iranian network, I reply: to work for a country’s television network does not mean support of that country’s regime. Were things so straightforward my detractors, those paragons of political virtue, would have long ago insisted that the government of The Netherlands sever all political and economic ties with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel or China. Curiously, their voices are not to be heard, just as when Rotterdam Municipality publicly cleared me of the false accusations of "doublespeak" or "homophobia", or, more recently, when an American Federal Court quashed the decision of a lower court revoking my visa. Why the silence? Why the accusations that seem to fit me alone?
The answer is simple: when they single out a "visible Muslim intellectual" for attack their real agenda is the politics of Muslim-baiting and fear. When it comes to seeking votes, all options are on the table, even the most dishonest and the most scurrilous. I respect my principles far too much to submit to this deceitful propaganda campaign. Not only as a question of personal honour, but in the name of human dignity, and faith in the future.
1 MRZine Editor's Note: From Carool Kersten's report, one gathers that a coalition of leftists and rightists in the opposition initiated the latest attack on Tariq Ramadan, pushing the center to the purge of Ramadan:
Last week, three opposition parties in the Rotterdam legislative body ([Pim Fortuyn-inspired] Leefbaar, VVD, and SP) called for his dismissal, while City Council coalition party PvdA (Labour Party) stated that Ramadan's credibility had been compromised because of his involvement with Press TV.
The city council had been taken by surprise by Ramadan's participation in a program of the Iranian TV station. In the national parliament, CDA (Christian Democrat Party) insisted Ramadan should leave, while, in Rotterdam (where the party was still supporting him in Spring), CDA representatives kept silent.
2 MRZine Editor's Note: Press TV, as well as other Iranian state media, has interviewed numerous secular Western leftists, such as Doug Henwood, the publisher of Left Business Observer, and Richard Seymour, the author of The Liberal Defense of Murder and Lenin's Tomb (see below). Iran's state media have also featured works of many secular Western leftists (sometimes appropriating them without their knowledge, let alone consent or royalty payment). Will such leftists be also unwelcome in the Netherlands?
An Interview with Doug Henwood, The Autograph, Press TV, 8 June 2009
An Interview with Richard Seymour, Live Debate with George Galloway, Press TV, February 2009
Tariq Ramadan is Professor of Islamic Studies at the Faculty of Theology, the University of Oxford. He was also a visiting professor at Erasmus University until the Iranophobic and Islamophobic purge yesterday. This open letter was first published on his Web site on 18 August 2009. Read it in French: "Lettre ouverte Ã mes dÃ©tracteurs aux Pays Bas."
n (...)18 August 2009 21:55, par
It has been like this from the moment you set foot on Dutch ground; the Afshin Ellian’s of the Netherlands wouldn’t rest until they accomplished their aim. Shervin Nekuee was right when he said that it wasn’t about what Tariq Ramadan does, but what he is: an intelligent, eloquent, good looking muslim. Not the kind of Muslim we want.
18 August 2009 22:38, par ziyaad
I have reply to the opinion posted on NRC HANDELSBLAD by Afsin Elliani (http://www.nrc.nl/international/opi...). I don’t know if they will post my reply. All I have to say that is that this man who is of Iranian origin is a danger for The Netherlands and in view of the content of his article it is clear that he is trying to kill two birds with a stone. As he can’t attack PressTv directly knowing that his voice will fall in the ears of some deafs, the attack has to be directed to Tariq Ramadan, knowing the high reputation that Tariq has on the international scene and the fact that he is the host of Islam&life Tv show. Strange coincidence: after some four months that this programme has been broadcasted on PressTv London, only now that this extremist and populist figure of The Netherlands ought to question the purpose of Islam&life knowing that the Local elections (2010) are at the doorsteps. I can deduce that this man is contributing to the anti-islam campaign of Mr G.Wilders and his party which recently experienced a great victory in the European Parliament Elections, confirming the rise of the extreme-right(racist, anti-immigration, anti-islam) in the Netherlands It seems that he has not dare to watch a single episode of your Tv show as his accusations are false and malicious. He is a real pain this Ellian. I asked him why this reference to Egypt concerning the source of your salaries that you recieve from the Municipality of Rotterdam and Erasmus University. His intervention was clearly meant to discredit you as everybody know you are a Swiss-born Islamic theologian (of course with Egyptian descent)thus, a European Muslim who speaks well, fully engaged in the rethinking of Islamic thoughts leading to a revolution in the West and in many societies where Muslims are the majority. He has to answer why he referred to Egypt on this issue as you are not an Egyptian and thus not a tax-payer in Egypt. May be Mr Ellian will have to tell us in which city does he live in The Netherlands.
20 August 2009 01:48, par
Today again Mr. Ellian published a quite ad hominem piece about you. He seems to have a very unhealthy obsession with you as a person (it’s like the tenth column in a few months).
20 August 2009 14:46, par Sozialliberalismus
Dear Mr. Ramadan,
As a German Political Scientist and Historian who wrote his PhD in the Netherlands - out of fascination for this rich and tolerant culture and political system - I can only say that I’m shocked to what happened in the Netherlands in the last 8 years. Not only a growing climate of intolerance against minorities and especially moslims, but also a political radicalisation - not coming from various moslim groups, but from members of the Dutch Parliament, like Hirsi-Ali, Wilders, Verdonk etc...I think that the Netherlands today - under the label of liberalism - one of the most intolerant countries against minorities in the EU. What happened to you in Rotterdam is a shame - a shame for the Netherlands and a shame for the so called Western Civilisation. As a liberal protestant I disagree on some points with you - but differences must be part of a public, open and debate in dignity - not of hate and - more subtile - under the label of liberalism and free speech condemning other political, cultural and intellectual standpoints. I hope you will stand strong for your opinions and will also in the future part of the debate and dialogue between the western and Islamic civilisations. Kind regards,
18 August 2009 23:09, par a Dutch girl
I am glad you published your point of view on the discussion that arose the last few days in this country, it clears some issues about your work and your position. I really hope a lot of Dutch people will come to their senses again and stop listening at this giving this Wilders figure. I admire your calm reaction on issues like this and your explanation of religious themes and problems. You are a welcome relief among (other) scholars, there are very few people who understand and bring together or integrate the Islamic views and the Western way of living like you do... You understand the issues for Dutch and for Muslims... Please keep up your work and bring us your knowledge!
18 August 2009 23:33, par
I am Dutch and I feel deeply ashamed of what happened today. You have been scapegoated for a wider cause of fighting Islam. There is a witch-hunt going on here and unfortunately you have become the victim.
What I read is nobody doubts your integrity and the city council is satisfied with your work and results. But the idea that you are connected to Iran did the trick. Strange to hear that from a country that on a yearly basis exports 460 million to Iran.
Please keep continuing your good work. May the blessing of Allah be with you.
19 August 2009 02:00, par
It’s really unacceptable the way they have treated you. I wish you good luck.
With love, Sarah
19 August 2009 10:15, par Max
Dear Tariq Ramadan,
I must admit that until yesterday I had never heard of your name, so I do not really know you. Still I have a strong feeling to support you. Why? Because this world needs people like you who are brave enough to stand out and to be criticized by almost everyone. The world and especially politics in the Netherlands is ruled by fear. Only an open dialog can take this fear away. Not polarisation or banning of people. I am certain that all people are alike. It is like Sting wrote in his song….”because the Russians love there children to”. If you just take the time to talk to each other you will see you agree on a lot of points and you disagree on a few. This morning I read your article in the NRC and felt like I totally understand what you mean. In these times you need get all the moral support you can get, because it sometimes feels like you are doing this all alone and nobody understands you. Believe me, deep down most people understand you, if they take the time to really listen. Unfortunately they do not take the time and for those who do most don’t have the guts to speak out loud. I hope you find the energy to keep on doing the right thing. In these times that must be difficult. I fully support your actions. Does this mean I agree on everything you say? Of course not. I do agree though on the way you try to get these differences discussed, because an open dialogue with all people involved is the only way to understanding.
19 August 2009 10:27, par EUR student
Ik vind het vooral bijzonder erg dat de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam zich laat meetrekken in zulke overduidelijke doorzichtige politieke spelletjes... echt zonde! Het zou zo goed zijn voor de maatschappij al zou de Universiteit zich als een wijze hierin opstellen. De Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam zinkt op deze manier van een krachtige kritische Universiteit tot een afhankelijk schooltje. Ik hoop voor een ieder dat tenminste de Universiteit hier nog op terugkomt en excuses maakt.
19 August 2009 12:33, par herman
Ik denk inderdaad dat de stompzinnigheid van de Erasmus universiteit niet kan worden overschat op dit punt.
Laten we een vergelijking maken met een hoogleraar die werkt voor de BBC in het VK of voor NBC in de VS. Beide zenders worden gefinancierd door de Britse, resp. Amerikaanse staat, en worden niet zelden gebruikt als propagandakanaal voor het overheidsbeleid. De VS en het VK zijn, naar het internationaal recht, terroristische staten die soevereine staten om economische redenen binnenvallen met ongekende militaire agressie, overigens met Nederlandse militaire medewerking.
Daarentegen heeft Iran in de afgelopen eeuw, niettegenstaande de binnenlandse repressie en conflicten, geen enkele gewapende agressie tegen andere staten ondernomen, was het daar juist herhaaldelijk het slachtoffer van, en dreigt het wederom het slachtoffer daarvan te worden. Het VK en de VS hebben zelfs in de jaren 1950 de toen bestaande democratie om economische redenen de nek omgedraaid en een zeer wreed en gehaat regime geïnstalleerd, waarvan de gevolgen tot op de dag zichtbaar zijn in het huidige regime. De democratie heeft een kans gehad en is vermoord door westerse koloniale/imperiale machten. Al deze context wordt natuurlijk consequent verzwegen in het westen.
Ik kan me niet voorstellen dat de Erasmus universiteit iemand ontslaat voor een nevenfunctie bij de BBC of de NBC. De reputatie van de Erasmus universiteit is in deze kwestie zeer ernstig geschaad, en academici overal ter wereld zullen dit instituut ervoor minachten. Het moreel faillissement van de westerse "liberale" intelligentsia is stuitend.
19 August 2009 14:10, par Prof. dr. David Pinto
Met deze reactie ben ik volstrekt oneens. Het getuigt juist van kracht om eindelijk in te zien dat deze charlatan en wolf in schaapskleren is ontmaskerd. Er zullen meer ’geestverwanten’ van Ramadan volgen, read my lips! Prof. dr. David Pinto Amsterdam
19 August 2009 17:52, par Student
Het is pijnlijk om te zien dat iemand die tekent met de titels prof. en dr. voor zijn naam zijn reactie beperkt tot een goedkope ad hominem aanval. Ten eerste zou iedere zichzelf respecterende professor zich onthouden van persoonlijke aanvallen. Mocht hij zich toch op die manier uiten dan zou hij zijn aantijgingen motiveren door te komen met feiten en bewijzen. Waaruit blijkt het dat Ramadan een charlatan is? Wellicht uit het feit dat hij - anders dan de gemiddelde islamhater zou hopen en verwachten - intelligent, welbespraakt en charismatisch is? Wellicht uit het feit dat hij zich niet laat manipuleren en indoctrineren door de mainstream opvattingen in het Westen? Wellicht omdat hij zoveel jonge moslims aanspreekt, en dat daardoor het gevaar bestaat dat als hij niet wordt tegengehouden, er wel meer zelfbewuste, welbespraakte en kritische moslims zullen opstaan die zullen doorgaan met zijn werk? Ik daag de zgn. prof Pinto uit om zijn claim dat Ramadan een charlaten en een wolf in schaapskleren zou zijn te bewijzen. Voor de rest sluit ik me volledig aan bij de reactie van Herman en wil er aan toevoegen dat deze kwestie mij doet denken aan de weigering van DePaul University in Chicago om aan de gerenommeerde wetenschapper Norman Finkelstein een zogenaamde ’tenure’ als hoogleraar aan te bieden na een schaamteloze campagne van Dershowitz en zijn kliek. Anders dan Herman en andere critici van deze gang van zaken ben ik niet echt verbaasd. Universiteiten zijn - zonder uitzondering - centra van ’imposed ignorance’ (zoals Noam Chomsky dat uitdruk), en ze zijn slechts bedoeld om de belangen van de elite te dienen. Het ontslag van Finkelstein in 2007 en Ramadan nu in Rotterdam bewijzen de diep gewortelde banden tussen de academia en de politieke elite.
19 August 2009 18:24, par
Precies, de hooggeleerde heer Pinto maakt hier een statement maar laat achterwege deze te beargumenteren.
19 August 2009 20:11, par Drol
Deze zogenaamde "Charletan" heeft niets, maar dan ook niets misdaan. Is al eerder op basis van niets aangeklaagd. En vrijgesproken!! Dit alles is puur moslim bashen. Je hoeft niet eens moslim te zijn om van deze gang van zaken te moeten kotsen.
19 August 2009 18:31, par F. Harthoorn
De Erasmus (!) universiteit mag van mij een verlichte, humanistische bruggenbouwer voordragen.
19 August 2009 11:05, par wil
In this times in the Netherlands the decision to send you away! We all have to fear what’s in the future. Instead of listening to a European Muslim intellectual and try to understand what he has to say, think things over with an as open mind as possible, we have decided he is not worth to be trusted. It looks like they were looking for one more reason and they founded it: you are a friend of Ahmadinejad! The anxiety for the islam(or the people who say islam is no good)must be great. They are too stupid to see what they’re doing, mr. Ramadan. And if they’re not stupid, they’re bad people with bad meanings. I hope that you personally will be able to deal with the harm. There are more people who are interested in constructive ways of thinking and talking about how to live now, to create a society in which people can live in peace. Haarlem, Wil Luitze
19 August 2009 13:13, par
Dear mr. Ramadan, please stay involved in the Netherlands: we need your voice in the debate and muslims must see that they must not let themselves be put in a corner and marginalised because they choose to be muslim. We need you as an example.
19 August 2009 13:31, par Ina Dijstelberge
It is ridicules who the political climate and the xenophobic public opinion is dictating the public debate nowadays in the Netherlands. Every rationality seems to be disappeared. More frightening is that the way in which is spoken about you, Muslims, Islam and in general ‘allochtonen’ (a Dutch invention which no other country use and divides citizens into groups), is not only without dignity and respect but it shows a complete contempt for basic human values and rights. I’m ashamed for what is happening in my country and consider the ending of your contract as another blot on our escutcheon or what is left of it.
I urge you to keep on participating in the public debate in the Netherlands it is necessary and there are still a load of people who are interested in your input.
19 August 2009 14:03, par MuslimEnlightener
They hired you not to build bridges between the dutch and muslims but only to teach the muslims how to obey and submit to the dutch way of thinking (which can hardly be called thinking).
Now they fire you because you failed to subdue your violent and backward fellow muslims. Instead your work was considered to be islamic propaganda, because interested people started to understand islam better. THAT is the threat you represent.
The political stakes are too high to let a foreign muslim thinker and theologian jeopardize them. This is not about you of course, you’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. They do not need Ramadans but only Ellians.
A revolution is the only solution, but the Dutch (and almost all other peoples) are a sleepy people who care more about the pleasures of life than about the truth.
The future is going to get a lot worse... We do not know when mankind will realize islam is the solution!
19 August 2009 15:02, par
Isn´t it interesting that muslimthinking and muslimsocieties are evolving thanks to people like Tariq Ramadan, but also people who are educated and devolop themselves in the west (I see it all around me: people who are religious, but criticul and humane), while western societies and thinking seem to be spinning out of control?
19 August 2009 20:12, par Jeroen
And how quaint it is to see that a thank you can so easily go accompanied by an insult, as the "Dutch intelligence" remark.
19 August 2009 21:26, par herman meester, rotterdam
This is a natural thing. All imperial and colonial societies, including the Netherlands (even though the Netherlands is merely a vassal to the main empire) will ultimately decay. They cannot indefinitely postpone the moral decay as it expresses itself in political, economic and intellectual corruption and ignorance.
This is a very real, not merely intellectual thing: for example, as the imperial mindset is absorbed, the economically disastrous ideology of "free" markets and pseudo-prosperity, real estate bubbles (with is destroying the UK, Iceland and Eastern Europe) comes along with it.
Independent thinking is much harder than people may assume, because it requires a painful confrontation with one’s own prejudices. The Netherlands will continue to suffer from this dishonesty and corruption as long as it is not spiritually independent. The "threat" imposed by "Islam" is experienced as something that brings the eventual decay of the imperial, exploitative society closer. Instead, Islam ought to be considered as one aspect of a way out of this, to escape from this exploitative relationship. The Islamic world has experienced first-hand the destruction and corruption that comes with the decay of its own empire, colonialism, external wars of exploitation, internal wars, and perverse but utterly unproductive and wasteful oil wealth. Could we perhaps learn at least something from that? If not, humanity won’t fare well.
In order for Muslim thinkers to be successful in conveying their message, a more radical analysis of the exploitative nature of globalized "free" market capitalism is necessary. Islam’s value of negative interest and the rejection of the "inevitability" of poverty, if well brought across, may inspire Western (post)-Christian progressive thinkers into joining forces with Muslims, against the march of repression, fear-mongering and neo-feudalism that threatens to engulf us in the 21st century.
After all, the "threat" of Islam is being used to divert attention from the class war that is being waged and that drives people to economic insecurity. Where, like in the Netherlands, the (non-existent) "Left" fails to address the class-war aspect of the demonization of Muslims, the Muslims themselves must address it.
20 August 2009 00:27, par
Jeroen, I don´t mean to insult anybody. I´m just making an observation. And it´s all relative, I know. But the muslims of today are not the muslims of ten-fifteen years ago; there is happening a lot and there is a lot of evolvement going on. And yes, there are also a lot of problems, but overall I think the movement is upward. As for the Dutch society: we cannot ignore this isn’t the same as 15 years ago either. And I wouldn’t say the change is for for the better (although Wilders supporters will not disagree: "now we can openly insult muslims/ foreigners").
21 August 2009 11:00, par Jeroen
There are supposedly 1657.6 million muslims living today. And you are saying they have all changed in the last 15 years? That seems hardly likely, or in fact, necessary.
But what I am seeing here is a knee-jerk reaction to any critical thought on islam, on the definition that it is supposedly insulting and people are forbidden to insult Islam.
Basically it means that if you decide to find an insult in what I say, you claim the right to forbid me to speak, while I claim your right to ignore me.
Insults are only given when they are taken. Unless the purpose is to intentionally disrespect someone, you are the only one that makes you feel something. One person’s critical thinking is another’s insult, that’s even more relative than your observation.
21 August 2009 12:52, par
"Unless the purpose is to intentionally disrespect someone"... But isn’t this what is happening today with muslims?
19 August 2009 15:29, par Gertrude
I love and respect you Tariq. Even my son, not a muslim, is extremely angry, even called me on one of his rare calls, to tell me so, and ask if i had heard.We come from the city of Rotterdam, where my children suffered much abuse from muslimyoungsters. As the RAmadan approaches we can not be angry and have to trust Allah. Games are being played, we muslims have to trust in the bigger plan. Wishing you well. Gertrude/Hayat
19 August 2009 15:59, par PP
It is ashame Rotterdam University is claiming the name of Erasmus, and dealing with intellectuals the way they are currently doing.
Ok, if Rotterdam City Council is just a political arena without any intellectual capability, I understand: that is sick Dutch politics - just give up on it.
But, if Erasmus University is not able to separate intellectual thinking from politics, they do not deserve to be named University, let alone ERASMUS University.
They (PvdA) are just looking for excuses to "bash" Muslims and make themselves look better for the stupid Dutch voters. They are too scared to look for the nuance; PvdA starts to behave like Wilders, unbelievable ..... "Leefbaar Rotterdam", sure .....
19 August 2009 16:47, par
I read the rector of Erasmus said that students are already complaining about TR´s exit because they enjoyed his teaching so much. Isn’t that the criterion for someone allowing someone to teach? The Ellian pressure group has come a long way. Fight back mister, this is unacceptable. Don’t just sue Rotterdam, sue Ellian as well!
19 August 2009 16:57, par Dr. Happy Bongers
Dear prof. Ramadan, I deeply regret the way you are treated by my fellow Dutch men. Once more, it is demonstrated how deep the antipathy versus the islam and islamic people is in this country. It seems we have a long way ahead of us, before we are able to live together in mutual understanding and peace. Thank you for your impressive and incredibly intelligent contributions and wish you all the best in the future. Please don’t give up spreading your message!
19 August 2009 17:58, par
The chicken or the egg. They talk about Tariq Ramadan not being able to do his work because of the controversy. But isn’t it the other way around: they kept stirring up issues, making controversies, so he indeed wasn’t able to do the job. It’s complicated, but it’s something many muslims (on another level of course) endure.
19 August 2009 18:15, par Bert
Dear Mr. Ramadan,
I’m deeply ashamed and shocked about the narrow-mindedness, visionlessness and the utter lack of honesty and personal integrity that underlied the ugly smear campaign which now seems to have turned out successful.
Despite it’s grotesque pretentiousness, Dutch society obviously still is way too infantile, manipulable and intellectually immature to understand what is really at stake here, and has learned very little about decency and human dignity in the more than six decades that have passed since World War II.
Sincerely hope that you will soon find another place to continue your important work.
19 August 2009 18:31, par Safiyyah
your response is as consistent as you are, said with sincerity and eloquence. Your show on press TV is one of the most engaging available, and there is never "support for the regime". they are always balanced. the world truly owes you, for building the bridges between Muslims and the west, between sunnis and shi’is, between men and women, although I wish you would not speak of women only in relation to the headscarf, but based on their intellectual capabilities, as you usually do. barakallah fik.
19 August 2009 19:19, par Chris Dornan
19 August 2009 20:08, par Drol
Thanks Tariq. I hope your words will be read.
19 August 2009 20:16, par Jeroen
I don’t believe the main concern of the Dutch is that you are muslim, but because of your job. You should remain neutral to foreign politics when you are in a public function.
Instead, you purposely seek out the spotlight and cry foul when you are called on your responsibilities.
20 August 2009 00:13, par
You cannot expect from an international intellectual to "remain neutral to foreign politics". His other work continued as well. The municipality of Rotterdam knew who they were dealing with.
21 August 2009 11:06, par Jeroen
Why not? We expect it from everyone else in the same position.
Especially an internation intellectual should be aware of the situation of conflicting interests he put himself in. When he accepted this function he also accepted the responsibility to publically appear neutral.
21 August 2009 14:37, par Student
Jeroen, you obviously have no idea what you’re talking about. You seem to have a quite limited definition of an intellectual and his responsibilities.
Let me give you the real definition of an intellectual, the definition we all would know fully well, if we had a functioning education system and free media and press in The Netherlands. An intellectual is first and foremost a moral and conscientious person and has at least a minimum level of moral integrity and honesty. Seeking the truth and being thirsty for knowledge are undoubtedly very noble qualities, but the crucial question is what you do with them as an intellectual. What the so called intellectuals do at the moment is using their influence and power to protect the interests of the elite, to manufacture consent and keep the bewildered herd under control (as Walter Lippmann termed it in the 1920’s, without any trace of irony). An honest intellectual would use them for the good of mankind, and not merely for his own particular interests or for the interests of the ruling class. He would use them to expose lies and deceits, and to tell the truth, however painful and inconvenient that may be. Being an intellectual and remaining neutral publically are as incompatible as being a physician and refusing to treat a patient.
What exactly do you mean by saying that an intellectual should remain ’neutral’? Would you be willing to apply this standard to the so-called intellectual and professor in Leiden Afshin Ellian? Would you demand the same neutrality from him and call upon his responsibilities as a public figure? I doubt that you would. What Ellian does is appearently being ’critical’ towards Islam and starting a ’debate’ about Islam and ’enlighten’ the muslims in order to teach them the ’superior’ Western values. Well, anyone who has ever listened to anything Ellian has ever said in his public appearances would know that he’s a broken record, his remarks about Islam and muslims are simply meant to provoke and to offend and they have nothing to do with starting a civilized debate about the issues of citizenship and responsibilities of a citizen.
Ramadan’s fault was that he - unlike Ellian - did an excellent job in tackling the issues that he was supposed to tackle as a professor and public intellectual. He did an excellent job in appealing to the large population of muslim students in Rotterdam. He did an excellent job in defending the values that the West pretends to have, but lacks in reality, i.e. the values of liberty, equality, freedom of expression, freedom of the press etc. He did an excellent job in combining being a muslim and a citizen of a Western country. He wasn’t supposed to do all that. He was supposed to remain ’neutral’ on controversial issues, which means keeping silent about the atrocities of the US and its allies all over the world, keeping silent about the terrorist attacks by the US and Israel on the helpless and unfortunate Palestinian people, keeping silent about the hypocrisy of the West. His fault was that he refused to obey his Western masters, and refused to tell other muslims to do so as well. He was supposed to tell muslims that their muslim identity is incompatible with the Western lifestyle, and therefore, they should forget about their muslim identity. That he didn’t do. That’s his only fault.
19 August 2009 20:58, par Bojana K. Grabar
As a citizen of the Kingdom of the Netherlands i feel deepley ashamed of the recent events taken place upon you name and work, Tariq. I agree with every word as i hear you being pushed in the situation of to must defend your work, so as by this attempt again abstarcted political dignity of everyone in th eworld, who’d prefer seeking for the justified science and transparent political fairness, which each educational institution ought to perform in the name of what proclaimed as the goal of the human knowledge as an universal heritage. We could have expected this incident to have taken place, couldn’t we? The ignorence on the religous matters of an average western individul brought the global stability out of ballance quite a while ago already. These insistinly keep on ignoring peace missions such as of one of the greatest western spiritual man, the French man born nearby Vatican in Italy, nearby the emperors’ Rome, the martyr Franciscus of Assissi. Even, an average western mind cannot forsee any political link between the most sever wars of the post 2nd world war such as the Iran - Iraq war during the 80s. These choose t battle against the war Lords of Afghanistan, the Talib regime generated by themsleves, and they’d have prefered a war president in Iraq as well as in Iran, so USA. President Obama and president Ahmadinejad are being no option left than speaking soft and honest about their opposers. Could other intonations, to the perfections brought and trained during the Cold war, bing any other result than exposed by this shamfull events>? The coincidences are though obvious. The western ideologies salesmen seek secretly for the green diamonds that are in the posession of the republic of Iran; actually they dream of a return of another emperor.! If not by himself, they DO EVERYTHING ALL OVER AGAIN to bring him back even through the dust of destruction. Again: they read as they distinct the letters, due to the protecting towers they cannot imagine the reality’s dynamics and dialectics. They push an affirmation forward they compute in their laboratories all over again, by turning the wheel of torture around. Facts! You though understand why you have become targeted again.? However, those deny there have lived the true kings, too, such as Jesus Christ, the king crowned by thornes of their mockery, and more the modern emperors have even not been aware of existences at all. Because they think in the terms of Russian tzar merely or the Pahlavis. The age of the stupid, thus do not worry. Keep on! I stand by you even when not agreeing with every word of yours, the universal truth perpetuates even their existence. That far about their shame.
19 August 2009 21:23, par Paulien Hilbrink
Dear mister Ramadan,
On april 17th 2009 I was very fortunate to listen to your interview on the Nacht van de Filosofie in Amsterdam. Despite of the shallow questions of the interviewer, you put down your wise points of view and arguments, which for ever opened my eyes. Thank you very much for persisting in sharing your wisdom. I think your wisdom is to big for our narrow-minded, fearsome politicians with their ego’s and short-term agendas. Hopefully you will not disappear from the Dutch debates and fora. Of course you will not pull out of the dialogue, but I hope there will be sensible people that will invite you. We need your teachings to enrich our lives!
19 August 2009 22:35, par H.S
I have been watching Professor Ramadan progarmme from its first episode. And what I can say about the program it’s informative, direct, talk to people mind and above all present a high quality of intellectual thinking, in general it’s an excellent program. I am really chocked from the university decision,such act produce a genuine inquire about democracy and freedom of speech in the west … at least in the Middle East where I come from we know that we don’t have such privilege and we cope with, but what about Netherlands and the west? ….
Professor Ramadan, please keep on with your show, in fact it helps me a lot in clarifying and understanding many concepts in Islam, in addition, I have been used the substance of your progarmme as a reference in my PhD thesis….
Bless you and bless everything you do, and I am sure you will pass this trial, because you are honest and great teacher……
20 August 2009 00:56, par W.Patinga
This ’incident’ has left a very bad tast in my mouth. But i’m still positive about dutch society. It’s a great nation that deserves great people like you. Looking forward to seeing you in Holland.
20 August 2009 04:21, par Naima
I am shocked by what’s been happening in the Netherlands. I am an Algerian-Canadian who has been living in Canada for 22 years. I’m worried about the future of muslims in the west especially our children.
I have a profound admiration for Dr. Ramadan and wish we had more muslim scholars like him.
20 August 2009 10:16, par
The only thing Tariq Ramadan did wrong is adressing muslims -as it turns out shia-muslims as well;-)- as if they matter; as if their religion means something, as if their lives and contribution are and can be wanted. Of course this is a capital sin: a muslim only matters when you can put ’liberal’, or better yet ’ex’ in front of it; then he is like us, then he is a real human being.
20 August 2009 13:10, par
Tariq Ramadan is challenging the idea that only liberal islam (eveyting goes-islam) can be humane. He is being accused of being traditionalist and thus inhumane. But I think this is a false assumption. The example of his views about homosexuals (can’t approve of the behaviour, but respect the individual), though used against him, is a proof of this. I find this kind of reasoning in a lot of TR’s work: the brigde between what islam/ the quran/ ahadith says and everyday, real life. You don’t have to accept everything, to be full of understanding and humane.
20 August 2009 12:29, par Driss
Salam Ya Oustadouna,
Quelle bonne opportunité s’est ouverte pour vous afin de montre a la communauté dite démocratique que leur rôle n’est que pour atteindre leur objectif commerciaux ou dans ce cas ci électoral. Je vous demande en tant que musulmans vivant en Hollande de ne pas lâcher prise et de les suivre en Justices pour diffamation et non respect envers votre personne et envers votre contrat. Et si justice est faite de verse le montant d’argent a une association afin de leur montre votre bonne foi. Q’Allah vous vienne en aide. Driss
20 August 2009 12:51, par Mohamed
Dear Prof. Ramadan,
First of al I would like to begin by thanking you for your work in the Netherlands and abroad. The Dutch society does not realize what they have lost by letting you go.
You are a person who is not working for his own benefit but for the benefit of the Dutch society. Not like the rightwing parties supported by the Dutch elite trying to destroy the Dutch peaceful society by putting groups against each other. There are some in this country who can not bare it that a Muslim intellectual is doing a good job in a big city as Rotterdam.
The shameful tricks and lies they have used to get rid of you are typical for the way they treat and will treat DUTCH Muslims in the Netherlands.
I hope you will not give up and will help us fight right extremism.
20 August 2009 13:43, par Asma Barlas
The best way to sum up my response to the University’s decision is to share the letter I wrote (which may or may not be published) to the Wall Street Journal yesterday in response to its op-ed:
From: "Asma Barlas" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Many people disagree with Tariq Ramadan on certain issues, including me. In fact, I expressed some of these disagreements in a public debate between us at the University of Rotterdam last year. Even so, I am appalled by your low-brow attacks against him in the wake of his firing by the university for hosting some shows on Iranian TV (August 19th).
I’m not sure what political investment the WSJ has in that decision but it is, frankly, absurd. As Ramadan points out in the letter from which you picked a random line to scoff at, this is not tantamount to working for the Iranian Republic or government. (Whatever happens to the principle of free speech when it comes to Muslim critics of "the West?") And, as for the Dutch interest in bridge-building, until recently the government has subsidized mostly bridge-burning. Consider the handsome support of the redoubtable Ayaan Hirsi Ali whose slash and burn politics of hate endeared her first to many Dutch people and now to U.S. critics of Islam. That Ramadan was willing to work in this politically vitiated atmosphere is to his credit, though I think that bridges are always built collectively.
Asma Barlas, Ph.D. Professor of Politics & Director, Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity Ithaca College Ithaca, NY 14850 http://faculty.ithaca.edu/abarlas/
20 August 2009 19:48, par Bojana K. Grabar
Aah, THE Asma Barlas who doesn’t distinct a source from a reason, a consequence from an inter-fraction ...What do the men say in Pakistan? That a woman cannot replace a man unless have had a child.? A promoter of a discrimination transforms into a defender of her victimisations. Would be as well pleased y the honour if might taken the position over, wouldn’t you, sister.? I heard ... i heard a whisper, a well resembling sound. Phoenix is a bird of decency .. luckily! Cannot be expected anymore. Unhappily. To merry a daughter ... may be a challenge, unless a woman bore three, four, five, but ONLY sons! Then, it must be just pride!? Or prudence??
20 August 2009 16:59, par Zia
Cher Tariq, tu nous a éclairci sur tellement de choses si basiques pour vivre en paix avec soi-meme et les autres. Comme tu dis souvent: les reponses sont si simples mais on se perd toujours dans les details. Pour conclure sur tout ce qui se passe contre ta personne en ce moment-ci au pays bas, c’est tout a fait normal pour n’importe quel individu qui est juste et coherent sur la seule et unique voie: celle de la verite. Il y aura toujours des epines dans ce cheminement tant que tu ne cesseras pas de poursuivre ce travail d’orienter les intelligences vers tout ce qui est juste. Comme t’a dit recemment a l’ile maurice, tu ne fais que deranger. Et dans une societe dirigee par les injustes, tout ce qui derange devient alienable pour eux. On te supporte a travers nos invocations et qu’Allah te preserve avec une bonne sante et te donne de la force physique et emotionnelle pour pouvoir continuer a oeuvrer sur cette voie que toi meme tu nous a deja longtemps montre.
Un etudiant mauricien en genie mecanique (malaisie)
21 August 2009 01:59, par Neha
The decision by the University and the City of Rotterdam is appalling. Mr. Ramadan, I have a deep respect and appreciation of the work that you do and your commitment to discussion and dialogue. Please keep up your good work, we are in dire need of more individuals such as yourself.
God Bless, Neha
21 August 2009 10:24, par H.S.
The discussion that has unfolded about you is despicable: everybody is repeating everybody. It’s time to here you talk. Hope you will soon be in the Netehrlands.
21 August 2009 20:16, par Shakkira xx
Professor Ramadan - I am very sad to hear of this – you are the light in what is becoming a dark and frightening tunnel – the only consolation here is the ones who admire you far outnumber those who would seek to challenge you – you are our shining star please remain so and as many others - I’m praying that justice will prevail … love Shakkira xx
21 August 2009 20:25, par MT.Akbar
Dear Ustadh Tariq Ramadan,
Your writings and thought have meant a lot to this young Muslim, and have helped me in my struggles of becoming. I am always dumbfounded and uncomfortably numb when these "crises" are created and envelop us like a whirlwind, though it serves to highlight the points raised by the work you are doing; consistency in values and citizenship.
The right-wing and the ignorant will run with this and attempt to hold it up as a victory in their crusade, a crusade that just shows their hypocrisy about "free speech." At the root of this is their fear and hatred. I pray you get a chance to come to America soon, and that the teacher who I have learned from a far can teach in presence.
It has been my thought that you are not the Muslim Martin Luther, but rather you are like Muhammad ’Abduh and the Muslim Martin Luther King Jr.