THE HAGUE, 07/11/07 - Tariq Ramadan is to hold the Sultan of Oman chair of Islamology at the University of Leiden. Education and Culture Minister Ronald Plasterk said yesterday in the Lower House that he does not object to Ramadan's appointment.
The Party for Freedom (PVV) complained that "the sultan of an Islamo-fascist dictatorial state" is paying 2.5 million euros to win influence at a Dutch university. PVV MP Bosma added that Ramadan does not reject stoning of women and wants to destroy Israel. The conservatives (VVD) also suggested that Ramadan poses a risk to national security.
But Plasterk was unimpressed: "We live in a free country. (...) I have no judgement on the university's selection methods", said the Labour (PvdA) minister. "As far as I know Ramadan does reject the stoning of women", said Plasterk, who in addition called him an "interesting" man.
De Volkskrant had reported yesterday morning that Ramadan was selected from 40 candidates for the chair financed by Oman. Ramadan will mainly focus on the position of Muslims in Western Europe and will start his work in the summer months. In Leiden, he will also be involved with the training of Imams in the Netherlands that the cabinet wants to develop. "The arrival of the scholarly Muslim is expected to lead to great - also international - interest in the Islam course in Leiden and in the debate on Islam in the Netherlands," De Volkskrant predicted.
According to the newspaper, Ramadan is one of the world's best-known Muslim theologians. "Ramadan, who speaks fluent French, English and Arabic, is intellectually gifted and has great charisma. He is a role model for Muslim youngsters who favour integration, stick to their Islamic identity and reject radical Salafist ideas," De Volkskrant believes.
De Volkskrant did add that "opponents of Ramadan call him a wolf in sheep's clothing." The grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hasan al-Banna, "has the reputation of being a modern, moderate Muslim, though critics say he has a double agenda. His texts in Western languages are more moderate than those in Arabic, the criticism runs. He also is said to have distanced himself insufficiently from terrorist acts, by showing sympathy for their background."
Froms NIS News, without further comment.