Rotterdam retains services of Muslim advisor

16th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Tariq Ramadan, one of Europe’s leading Muslim thinkers, has a conservative opinion of the topic of homosexuality, but places individual over religion, concludes the city council.

ROTTERDAM – The Dutch city Rotterdam said Wednesday it would retain the advisory services of controversial Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan after a probe of anti-gay comments he is alleged to have made.

The investigation found that Ramadan "has a relatively conservative opinion on the topic of homosexuality," Rotterdam cultural councillor Rik Grashoff told reporters following a public protest at Ramadan's reported statements.

"But he is consistent: homosexuality is hard to accept from the Islamic point of view, but respect for the individual reigns supreme."

Ramadam was also present at the media conference.

Ramadan, considered one of Europe's leading Muslim thinkers, has been an advisor to the mayor of Rotterdam on issues of multi-culturalism since 2007. He is also a guest lecturer at Rotterdam's Erasmus university.

In March, the Gay Krant, a Dutch magazine for homosexuals, published remarks it attributed to the Oxford University professor which it said were offensive to gay people and women.

It quoted him as saying that homosexuality was not allowed under Islam and that women were required to cast their eyes downward when walking in the street.

The magazine called him "two-faced" with different messages for western and Islamic audiences.

"It is not a question of double speak," Grashoff retorted Wednesday. "Mr Ramadan is a modern thinker who does not believe in the hegemony of religion over society."

Ramadan told reporters that the quotes used by the Gay Krant had been "taken out of context".

"I am happy," he said. "I want to continue building bridges" between Muslims and westerners.

A Swiss citizen of Egyptian origin, Ramadan is known for promoting a modernised form of Islam and for his opposition to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

Ramadan, whose grandfather was a founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, has been barred from entering US territory since 2004, when he was due to take up a post at the Notre Dame University in Indiana.

AFP / Expatica

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