Controversy seems to follow Tariq Ramadan wherever he goes. In Rotterdam, where the Swiss philosopher and theologist has been asked to contribute to the multicultural dialogue, the gay community is up in arms over Ramadan’s statements about homosexuality and the role of women in society.

A split tongue, is how French journalist Caroline Fourest described Tariq Ramadan in her 2006 book Frère Tariq (brother Tariq). Fourest argues that Ramadan has a moderate discourse for Western consumption, and a radical one buried inside Arabic-spoken tapes that are widely distributed in immigrant communities throughout Europe. Ramadan’s defence of a “European Islam” (an Islam that adapts to the rules of European society) has made him enemies within orthodox Islam as well as in the West, where some have argued that Ramadan wants Europe to adapt to Islam rather than the other way around. It is the latter that has been dubbed Ramadan’s “double discourse”.

Whenever Ramadan (48) moves to a new country – and he has moved a lot: from Switzerland to France to the US to Britain to the Netherlands – quotes from his tapes surface and are argued as proof of his “Jeckyl and Hyde” identity. The latest accusation comes from Gay Krant, a newspaper for the gay community in the Netherlands.

Ramadan was recently hired by the city of Rotterdam to “help lift the multicultural dialogue to a higher level”. He is also a guest lecturer at Rotterdam’s Erasmus university.


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