By Mark Hoogstad
A Dutch gay newspaper recently accused philosopher Tariq Ramadan of making homophobic comments. He has since be exonerated by the city of Rotterdam where he is employed.
Ramadan, 46, a Swiss philosopher and theologist of Egyptian descent, was hired by the city of Rotterdam two years ago to "help lift the multicultural dialogue to a higher level". He dismissed the Gay Krant's accusations as slander.
The city of Rotterdam has since carried out its own investigation, the results of which were presented on Wednesday. The city had 54 Arabic-language cassette tapes translated and examined. According to council executive Rik Grasshof of the Green party GroenLinks, the Gay Krant's reporting was incomplete en inaccurate.
The right-wing liberal party VVD, one of four coalition parties in the city government, had demanded Ramadan's resignation following the newspaper's accusations. "He can think what he wants but he cannot spread homophobic ideas in the name of the city of Rotterdam," VVD council member Bas van Tijn said.
Van Tijn also questioned what Ramadan brought to Rotterdam. "How can someone who doesn't speak Dutch bring the communities in Rotterdam together? Especially if that someone is constantly accused of having a double discourse?" Van Tijn asked.
Ramadan's principal message is that Islam and European culture do not have to be at odds. He is in favor of a " European Islam" that adapts to its surroundings. But his detractors claim that Ramadan propagates far more conservative ideas in his speeches in Arabic.
Ramadan is also a guest lecturer at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, where he teaches a course on citizenship and identity.
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