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US-banned Islamic scholar begins Oxford teaching post

first_imgControversial Islamic scholarTariq Ramadan, who has in the past been accused of anti-Semitism and was bannedfrom teaching in the US, is aboutto begin teaching at Oxford.Professor Tariq Ramadan is to begin a visiting fellowship at the postgraduatecollege St Anthony’s which specialises in International Studies. He marked thestart of his new position by delivering a speech to the Oxford Union on Tuesdayevening. A spokesperson for the College describedRamadan as “an internationally recognised scholar” and said that St Anthony’sis “a forum for free academic exchange on the issues of our times and opposes allmanifestations of hate speech and intimidation designed to curb academicfreedoms”.Ramadan was named by Time Magazinein April 2004 as one of the 100 innovators of the 21st century forhis work to create an Independent European Islam. Mike Whine from the Jewish CommunitySecurity Trust accused Ramadan of speaking moderately in French and English butdelivering more radical messages in Arabic. In the televised debates between himselfand the French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, Professor Ramadan declined tocondemn the Islamic punishment of the stoning of women for crimes such asadultery and instead resorted to ijtihad, asking leading thinkers to comeforward to a solution to this doctrinal problem.In 2004 the US State department revokedProfessor Ramadan’s work visa at the recommendation of the department ofHomeland Security shortly before he was due to begin teaching Islam, Conflict Resolutionand Peace Building at Indiana’s Notre Dame University, citing a “publicsecurity risk”. Ramadan was recently appointed toan elite government task force that reports to Tony Blair and the HomeSecretary Charles Clarke in the wake of the Londonbombings to help combat the rise of Islamic extremism in Britain.Dr Edie Friedman, director of theJewish Council for Racial Equality said that “some members of the Jewishcommunity have had positive contact” with Tariq Ramadan.  Dr Friedman said that although she has heard “both positive and negativethings about him” she “welcomes his appointment” and “looks forward to workingwith him”.Jeremy Seeff and Tikva Blaukopf, co-presidentsof the Oxford University Jewish Society said, “Professor Ramadan has a fine academicrecord” and that as long as “any personal religious and political inclinationshe has do not affect his teaching and in any way sour the atmosphere on campus,JSoc has no objection to Professor Ramadan’s appointment”. Hassan Malik, President of OxfordUniversity Islamic Society, said that “one may have disagreementswith Professor Ramadan” but that “differencesof opinion are allowed within reason” and that “his appointment should be goodfor the Oxford community,as he has received some bad press and allegations which were totally unfounded”.He added that Professor Ramadan is“working to create unity amongst different faiths” and that “for this he should be commended”.Professor Ramadan told Cherwell, “I’m happyto be here”, and described his work as “important in bridging the gap betweentwo worlds. It is really interesting for me meeting interesting and challengingpeople, asking questions about the future of Islam in Europeand in Islamic majority countries”.ARCHIVE: 3rd week MT 2005last_img read more