The last weeks there have been many articles about Tariq Ramadan in the Dutch newspapers. It's interesting to look at the role of the media in this particular situation. In fact there is no news, there is not something Tariq Ramadan has done recently why the media are paying attention to him right now. The only thing that happened is that some students from his classes went to the Director of Gay Krant ( a magazine for homosexuals) to warn him about Tariq Ramadan. The discussion is about something he is supposed to have said six years ago in France, of which some tapes exist and some Dutch people have listened to them. It's only because that director of the Gay Krant, Henk Krol, is searching for publicity, and the media is more than willing to pay attention to this subject, that it seems that there is some important news for the media to report.
There are so many negative comments about Tariq Ramadan in the media, especially on the internet, that you almost start thinking that there has to be something wrong with him. I decided to stop reading what others say about him and to analyse what he is saying himself in his lectures and debates with other people. I watched all the speeched and debates I could find from him on Youtube. He can fanatical in his debates, he is talking with passion. But also in a nuanced critical way, he speaks carefully and he backs up his claims with arguments. He doesn't make any radical / extremist claims. There are some films where people try to show that he betrays himself, but in these films his sayings are out of context and clearly manipulated by the maker of the youtube film.
You can see complete lectures given by him at the university of Rotterdam on their website. His ideas are clearly tolerant, emancipated, modern and democratic, no problem at all.
After searching a long time I found one youtube film which is different. In fact it's an audio tape and it was recorded at the Grand Pèchés. Here his way of talking is clearly different. He is preaching in a strong moral way. He is talking to Muslims and he is telling them how to be a good Muslim. It's still not very shocking what he is saying, he talks about virginity before marriage and about mixed swimming pools.
I decided I wanted to talk to Tariq Ramadan himself, and so I did today during the break of the masterclass. I asked him why this particular film is in a different style and with a different content. He said it's not different, he is saying the same message everywhere and in the same way. He said I should come up with a proof and then we will talk again. So I am going to listen to the tape once more, and to another speech of him where he is saying something else, I think, to compare them.
So, the saying is: where there is smoke, there must be a fire. But so far in the media I see a lot of smoke but not really a fire. I don't know why Tariq Ramadan doesn't want to admit that he talks with a different approach to different audiences (which is normal, with a presentation training you also learn to adapt your presentation to the specific audience that you are talking to). But I don't understand what all the fuss against him is about. I couldn't find him saying anything discriminating towards homosexuals or women in the youtube films. If he said these things often, they would be in youtube films for sure, since there are many people who want to “expose” him as a “wolf”. I will watch the films again and listen carefully to what he actually says. At least part of the smoke which is produced in the media is not based on a real fire.