17 January 2013
The announcement of the participation of Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan in a conference on ‘Islam and the media’ in Roubaix, Nord Pas-de- Calais, has according to a report in France 3 Nord Pas-de-Calais caused deep local controversy. Segments of the local community have criticized both, the organization Association Rencontre et Dialogue for creating, and the city hall for permitting such a debate in the city. Their criticism is in form and content directed against the conference and its renowned Muslim participant.
A UMP politician has questioned Tariq Ramadan’s understanding of Muslim acceptance in France. He denounced Ramadan’s critique of French state and societal attitudes towards Muslims and decries the rise of communalism allegedly caused by the Muslim intellectual’s rhetoric. Another opponent accused both the city hall and the organizers to tolerate and facilitate proselytisation by providing a public platform to the ideas represented by people like Ramadan.
In response to the severe criticism, the mayor of Roubaix has justified his decision as a commitment to the idea freedom of expression and plurality of opinions.