Friday, September 4, 2009
I Just Saw Tariq Ramadan!!!
Yes! It was amazing!
I was having iftar at a friend's house yesterday (I'm making friends! Yay!) and she mentioned that Tariq Ramadan would be speaking in a debate the next day about the fact that he got fired from Erasmus University (in Rotterdam). This was a big story here for a few weeks. Ramadan worked as a visiting professor at Erasmus and also for the local Rotterdam government on issues of citizenship and immigration. Then suddenly he was fired from both positions, apparently because a show he hosts, "Islam & Life", is funded by Iran.
Ramadan then wrote a letter about the issue, click here to read.
Anyway the debate today was between Ramadan and a representative from Erasmus, and then between Ramadan and 2 politicians, one from the far right, and another who was on Ramadan's side.
Ramadan's opening statement was basically about how he knew that the reason he got fired was because of the upcoming elections. There's a lot of anti-Islam sentiment now in Holland, and so politicians know that they need to focus on this to win, and thus firing someone with a high profile like Ramadan would surely win votes.
My favourite quote was this: "I'm leaving. Goodbye. Wilders is staying. Good luck." Wilders is a far-right politician who wants to ban the Qur'an in Holland and who was responsible for making Fitna - a very negative documentary about Islam. Polls show that were elections to take place now, Wilders would win (!).
What's happening to Holland? When and how did it go from being the most open-minded, tolerant country to being one of the least? The far right politician at the debate today said so many insulting things about Islam, including that "anyone who is Muslim cannot develop to their full potential" and that Islam contradicts the "open, Western, Christian culture in Holland". He kept bringing up the fact that Muslims could not become ex-Muslims and the bad treatment homosexuals receive from Muslims (both true and both serious issues) despite Ramadan giving clear, concise rebuttals.
Ramadan then said that power combined with a lack of understand is very dangerous, and he was referring to this politician. He said the guy had a very simplistic view of Islam, and that he was just creating an atmosphere of fear (post 9-11 America anybody?) where Dutch people don't trust their fellow Dutch Muslims. And that the reason for all this is so they can win the next elections. Ramadan kept saying he was trying to focus on bigger issues and on the future, not just on the next election.
Why are far-right politicians so obsessed with Islam?
Is there a problem with Muslims integrating into Dutch society, or is it all hype created by the media and politicians to manipulate people into voting for conservative parties?
More importantly, do these politicians see Dutch Muslims as DUTCH or immigrants? Because looking at and treating them like immigrants will obviously make these Dutch Muslims feel like they don't belong. Ramadan mentioned getting emails from Dutch Muslims saying they no longer feel like they belong in Holland, and that they don't feel safe or welcome anymore. These are people, for the most part, who speak Dutch, have jobs, have families, and on the whole are Dutch - so why is there a problem? Of course there are some who don't integrate. But is it the majority?
Anyway it was an amazing night, and I'm so happy I got to see him! It's so sad he won't be teaching at Erasmus anymore, otherwise I could have taken his classes. He was actually offered a position at the university I will be going to, and he accepted, but then something weird happened and he ended up turning the job down. What's up with Ramadan and Holland??!