Following controversy regarding his participation in a television program on Iranian station Press TV, Rotterdam has fired Tariq Ramadan from his position as Integration Advisor for the city council. NRC reports that officials feel Ramadan can no longer lead dialogue in the city as he has become the central focus of debate. Ramadan has also lost his position as professor of identity and citizenship at Rotterdam’s Erasmus University.
Ramadan refuses to accept the dismissal and is taking legal action against Rotterdam council as he feels he has been treated disrespectfully. According to NRC Ramadan maintains that he “does not support the current Iranian government, and says he has full editorial freedom. He believes change in Iran should come from within, for example through television. He also says he has been completely open about his television sideline. It is even mentioned on the homepage of his personal website.” Rather, he suggests that the controversy is due to the current political climate in the Netherlands and the increasing popularity of Geert Wilders.
Ramadan, 46, has been attached to the city council for two years and is a visiting professor at Erasmus University, a post paid for by Rotterdam. The dismissal comes after it emerged that Ramadan presents a weekly programme on Iran’s Press TV which is paid for by the Iranian authorities. Ramadan was asked to present the Iranian show Islam & Life two years ago because of his position on a list of worldwide intellectuals, according to Press TV’s Matthew Richardson, reports the AD.