A Dutch university fired Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan on Tuesday for hosting a show on Iran’s state television, which the school said could be seen as endorsing the regime. Both the City of Rotterdam and Erasmus University dismissed Ramadan from his positions as “integration adviser” and professor, saying his program “Islam & Life” airing on Iran’s Press TV is “irreconcilable” with his duties in Rotterdam.
Ramadan “continued to participate in this program even after the elections in Iran, when authorities there hard-handedly stifled the freedom of expression,” Rotterdam and the university said in a joint statement. It said Ramadan had “failed to sufficiently realize the feelings that participation in this television program, which is supported by the Iranian government, might provoke in Rotterdam and beyond.” He had worked at the university since 2007.
The professor, a Swiss citizen who is now on vacation in Morocco, told Dutch radio he would appeal the “naive and simplistic” decision. Ramadan has written an open letter to Dutch media saying the show was a debate forum, and that he had no involvement with Iran’s government.
“Repression against and killing of civilian people cannot be accepted and must be condemned,” he said in the letter, published by Dutch media last week when the debate broke out. “I support transparent, democratic process, and I expect the Iranian regime to respect this principle.”
Update: See “Ramadan wants to take Rotterdam to court”, NRC International 19 August 2009
And Saskia van Genugten’s piece at Comment is Free, 19 August 2009
Further update: Tariq Ramadan is interviewed in NRC International, 19 August 2009