Dutch university fires Islamic scholar Ramadan
By TOBY STERLING (AP)
AMSTERDAM — 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.
Ramadan — known as a reformist who condemns terrorism, seeks to modernize Shariah law and urges Muslims living in Europe to integrate — has recently been criticized in the Dutch press for allegedly voicing more conservative views for Muslim audiences than he does in the West.
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."
Ramadan has lectured in France, England and the United States, and also has had trouble with the U.S. government.
He had his U.S. visa revoked in 2004 shortly before he was to receive tenure at Notre Dame University in Indiana. He was denied entry to the U.S. in 2006 on the grounds that he had given $1,336 to a charity linked to Hamas, which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.
The American Civil Liberties Union launched, and initially lost, a case arguing that the U.S. had wrongly excluded Ramadan based on his beliefs. In July, an appeals court said the government should have told Ramadan why his visa was rejected and given him a chance to prove he doesn't support terrorism. The case is now back in lower court.
Ramadan had opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq and said he sympathizes with the resistance there and in the Palestinian territories. He also was among the most prominent Muslims to condemn the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
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