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.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) awarded the Emmy-Award winning television show, “The Simpsons,” with its first MPAC Media Award this past April 25th. Animation director Steven Dean Moore accepted the award on behalf of “The Simpsons” production team, over the episode titled “Mypods and Broomsticks” which features a Muslim-American family new to Springfield. Many stereotypes about Muslims were presented and debunked in the show, which ultimately helped the show’s patriarch, Homer, to realize that Muslim-Americans were very similar to other Americans. “I hoped to humanize them,” Moore told IFN referring to the Muslim characters, adding that he was “pleasantly surprised” by the recognition. During the MPAC awards reception, Amy Goodman, founder and producer of the internationally-syndicated radio show “Democracy Now!” was also applauded. The ceremony, held in Los Angeles, California, was held to applaud and “recognize voices of courage and conscience.”
A Dutch TV jury found Osama bin Laden not guilty of the September 11th attacks, in a mock trial of the show “Devil’s Advocate.”
The show’s premise follows a popular defense attorney, who stands up for some of the world’s worst criminals. In the latest show recently aired, defense attorney Gerald Soong was able to convince a jury of three women and two men that bin Laden’s connection to September 11th was a product of “Western propaganda,” and also rule that there was insufficient evidence to prove he was the real head terrorist of the al-Qaeda network. However, the jury did rule that bin Laden is a “terrorist who has misused Islam.”
While the program is often controversial, many are outraged that the program would take on such a fresh and ongoing issue and case.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) called on Muslims and other people of conscience to thank the creator of “The Simpsons” and the Fox television network for a recent episode that used comedy to challenge Islamophobia. The recently aired episode, titled “Mypods and Boomsticks” features a Muslim character named Bashir and his family, who face prejudice after moving to Springfield. While the character of Homer Simpson wrongly suspects Bashir’s family in a terror plot, the character of Bart befriends Bashir and defends him from bullies. “Because of its acceptance in popular culture, comedy is often one of the best vehicles for challenging stereotypes and intolerance. Fox and Matt Groening are to be congratulated for tackling the disturbing phenomenon of Islamophobia,” said CAIR Executive director Nihad Awad.
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Nine year-old Islam Alaouchiche dreamed of participating in his favorite television program In Ze Bo_teon Gulli, a French children’s television channel. While he was pre-selected by Angel Productions to participate, those responsible for casting informed the boy and his mother that his first name was problematic and might shock viewers. Islam’s mother, Farah Alaouchiche, claims they told her that Having the name Islam is like wearing a veil for a girl. The program also allegedly requested that Islam use another first name for the program like Mohammed or Sofiane, which they felt would work better. Ms. Alaouchiche has sought advice from several community associations, including the Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l’amitie entre les peoples (MRAP, or The Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Among Peoples) and the Haute Autorit_ de lutte contre les discriminations et pour l’egalite (HALDE, or the Authority Fighting against Discrimination and for Equality).
AMSTERDAM — Immigration and Integration Minister Rita Verdonk promised the Dutch Parliament Thursday the government would raise the issue of anti-Semitic broadcasts with Arab countries. A majority of parliamentarians voiced concerns that the Netherlands is being flooded with anti-Semitic propaganda by Arab television stations popular with Middle Eastern immigrants.