After months of hesitation, the City of Rotterdam has had to accept the evidence. The ideology of Tariq Ramadan isn’t compatible with his position of “advisor on integration and multi-culturalism” to which the City had appointed him – after months in which his appointment had become problematic. The alarm had been sounded by gay and lesbian associations, worried by his prudery and homophobia – such as when Tariq Ramadan explained that, for Islam, homosexuality “reveals a disturbance, a dysfunction, a disequilibrium”. Up to this point the preacher had spun his way out of trouble, using another quotation taken out of context to deny everything.

As often in the past, journalists had simply copied his statements without verifying them, taking him at his word that these propositions about homosexuality “had never been proven”. Untrue. The sentence for which he was reproached had been quoted exactly, and comes from a book entitled “Peut-on vivre avec l'islam ?” (Can we live with Islam) published by Favre, 2004, p 152.

In other writing and speeches Tariq Ramadan has taken a position against mixed marriages between Muslims and non-Muslims, forbidden his followers from participating in mixed bathing, denounced Islamic modernisation as “Islam on the cheap, Islam … without Islam”, and glorified Hasan al-Bana, the founder of the totalitarian Muslim Brotherhood as a model to follow.

His position, although difficult to decipher, is actually quite simple: pretending that political Islamic fundamentalism is a happy medium between Salafism and Islamic modernisation - presenting progressive Islam as an extreme, and demanding that the powers that be support an intolerant and reactionary Islam as the least bad option.

This has been going on for twenty years. In Switzerland in the 1990s, journalists praised him to the skies as a model of integration, before becoming disenchanted – notably when they realised the support he offered to the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in Algeria. Ramadan then turned his attention to France – until his “double-talk” was exposed. He then turned to England, Belgium and Canada, wherever fundamentalism was blooming in the shade of “the right to difference”; getting even by fanning the populist and xenophobic flames every time tolerance saw itself abused.

In this instance, by turning a deaf ear, the town hall of Rotterdam fed the anti-Islamic populism of Geert Wilders. It believed the accusations of racism. It woke up only when it discovered that its “mediator” had been appearing in a weekly broadcast on Press TV, an English-language channel financed by the government of Iran, without a word of criticism of the regime in broadcasts before, during or after the fraudulent elections. On 18 June, when more than a million people braved the ban to demand free and fair elections, Tariq Ramadan was worried by the score of the populists in the European elections. His broadcast began with a clip announcing the return of Nazism to Europe, as in the 1930s, but this time turned against Muslims. (The word “Jew” was not mentioned.)

His message chimed perfectly with the anti-Western paranoia of Press TV, set up to relay Iranian government propaganda to the Anglo-Saxon world. Notably this minimises the Holocaust. Clearly, the channel knew better than Rotterdam town hall – which has finally put an end to his salary.

As is his wont, the preacher was quick to attribute his latest problems to an increasing climate of “Islamophobia”. But quite the opposite is true. The fear of accusations of racism had bought him time. If Tariq Ramadan had been a Christian his mask would have fallen far quicker. No town hall of the left would have had the idea of recruiting a reactionary televangelist as adviser on “multiculturalism”.

Caroline Fourest

Published in Le Monde, 27/08/09