New witchhunt against Tariq Ramadan

He Supports Suicide Bombers, is banned in the US and is now on his way here

By Ben Leapman

Evening Standard, 12 July 2005

A row broke out today over a visit to London by an Islamic academic who claims terrorism is sometimes justified. His visit is being funded in part by the Metropolitan Police in a bid to build community relations.

Egyptian-born Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, is banned from entering the US. He has said that attacks by Muslims are justified in Iraq and Palestine. He has also publicly condemned the legalisation of homosexuality. But despite his views, Professor Ramadan is seen as a relative moderate. Speaking out against the London bombings, he said: ‘We must condemn these attacks with the strongest energy.’

Professor Ramadan will speak to young British Muslims at a conference in London on 24 July. The Met and the Association of Chief Police Officers have contributed £7,500 towards the event. It is being organised by the Da’watul Islam charity, which last year brought anti-gay cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi to Britain – sparking a political row when Mayor Ken Livingstone invited the preacher to County Hall…..

Last year Professor Ramadan was banned from entering the US after its department of homeland security said he had “endorsed terrorist activity”. In 1999, a judge in Spain found he had “routine contacts” with an Algerian member of al Qaeda.

In an interview with an Italian magazine Professor Ramadan said: “In Palestine, Iraq, Chechnya, there is a situation of oppression, repression and dictatorship. It is legitimate for Muslims to resist fascism that kills the innocent.” Asked whether car bomb attacks against US troops in Iraq were justified, he said: “Iraq was colonised by the Americans. Resistance against the army is just.”

Professor Ramadan has denied that Osama bin Laden had any connection with the 9/11 atrocities in the US and refers to those attacks, along with the bombings in Madrid and Bali, as ‘interventions’. Terrorism expert Steven Emerson said: “The telegenic, soft-spoken and charming professor is just the modern, westernised face of the same enemy that wears a different mask on other battlefields.”

As a Swiss national, Professor Ramadan does not need a visa to visit the UK but Home Secretary Charles Clarke has powers to exclude him on public safety grounds. The Met said: “Tariq Ramadan is a regular visitor to London and has spoken at many conferences as part of a debate into dealing with tensions in communities.” The ACPO said it backed “open debate” as a response to terrorism.