Ramadan fallout leads to political crisis in Rotterdam

The right-wing liberal party VVD has quit the Rotterdam local authority over its refusal to sack theologist Tariq Ramadan as adviser.

Swiss-born Tariq Ramadan (46) was hired by Rotterdam in 2007 to help bridge the divide between the city’s Muslim and non-Muslim communities. He is also a guest lecturer at Rotterdam’s Erasmus university.

Last month, the Gay Krant, a newspaper for the homosexual community, accused Ramadan of making homophobic and mysogynistic statements in taped speeches. The VVD promptly demanded that Ramadan be dismissed as city adviser, but it backed down after consultations with coalition party GroenLinks (the Green party). The local authority meanwhile carried out its own investigation of Ramadan’s past statements and concluded that the Gay Krant’s accusations were baseless.

Now, the VVD has decided to quit the Rotterdam city authority over the Ramadan affair. Its two aldermen, Mark Harbers (economy) and Jeannette Baljeu (transportation) gave their resignations on Wednesday evening. Harbers said Ramandan’s views are at odds with “the freedom of its individual to choose his or her own lifestyle”.

NRC International, 23 April 2009