Controversial Tariq Ramadan not welcome in Italy, ‘known for his anti-Semitic views’, says Jewish community leader

italicsBy Mara Vigevani*

“Unfortunately, Tariq Ramadan has not been able to reach Italy because of health reasons and therefore in the afternoon he will not be physically present at the presentation of the book ‘The Muslim and Agnostic’, as scheduled in the Erickson Center in Trento.”

With this statement, a representing of the Erickson Center of Trento explains that the long-awaited arrival of what is considered one of the most influential intellectuals of Western Islam and professor at Oxford University will not be in Trento today to present the book written with Riccardo Mazzeo.

Tariq Ramadan is a Swiss-born philosophy professor currently based in France. When speaking to Western audiences, Ramadan preaches an amicable message of unity and mutual respect. But to Arabic-speaking audiences, he vents his deep-seated hatred of the West and his endorsement of Wahhabism, the most extreme form of Islam.

Ramadan calls upon European Muslims both to remain Muslim and to embrace European citizenship enthusiastically — to stop fretting that European law isn’t based on Shariah and to recognize that obeying the social contract is what Shariah demands. Yet he does not explicitly repudiate his father and grandfather, who were key figures in the history of militant Islamism.

Moreover, Ramadan has numerous connections to fundamentalist Islamic militants and is suspected by U.S. intelligence agencies of maintaining ties with terrorist group al Qaeda.
His arrival in Italy was preceded by many controversies. First Ramadan was expected in Bolzano, at the Center for Peace, but a series of criticisms and controversy convinced the organizers, on Sunday, to move the meeting to Trento.

The mayor of Bolzano, Renzo Caramaschi, announced that he will not meet Ramadan in the town hall, and that he doesn’t appreciate the presence of the scholar.

“I do apprecitae alternative positions and ideas to mine – the mayor explains – and I am tolerant of people who do not share my thoughts but there is also a limit to that. And in this case, Ramadan, whoù I know I’ve been greeted him in Trento for a long time without problems, is still a very controversial borderline character for me. ”

After the organizers decided to move the meeting from Bolzano to Trento at the headquarters of the Erickson Center, Italy’s political right parties Forza Italia, Lega da agire and Fratelli d’Italia protested the initiative.

Tensions therefore already existed for the arrival of an intellectual that detractors complain of being “anti-Semitic” and as a person “far from our values” and admirers instead define “one of the greatest intellectuals in the Islamic world.”

Shortly before the Mayor of Bolzano rejected Ramadan’s presence, the president of the Jewish community of Merano, Elisabetta Rossi Innerhofer, said: ‘’I am shocked by the fact that Ramadan has been invited to Bolzano with all honor in the town hall. He has always attacked the State of Israel, he is known for his anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist positions and speaking in French TV in 2003 in a debate with former President Sarkozy he had defended the Islamic law which stipulates stoning for women accused of adultery. I guess he has not changed his mind since then, at least I did not hear.”

After the terrorist attack in a concert hall in Manchester there were fears about the security of Ramadan and Thursday morning he finally decided not to come.

However, the meeting will be held later in the day at the publishing house in Trento where Tariq Ramadan will be connected via Skype from his London home and will talk to Riccardo Mazzeo.

The controversial Swiss intellectual attracted many controversies also in France where many politicians and personalities of the culture avoid meeting him.

*European Jewish Press, 25.05.17