On March 18, 2004 Reuters reported, "Tariq Ramadan is used to contrasts. Swiss born and bred, he is the scion of a leading family of Egyptian Islamic activists. His advanced studies covered both the Muslim faith and the 'God is dead' philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. But the suave 41-year-old, who has become the voice of many disaffected Muslim youths in this country, thinks this latest contrast -- a by-product of the debate about banning headscarves in state schools -- says more about France than about him...'French secularism is based on the idea that the state or society has to protect itself from religion,' Ramadan explained...Ramadan refuses to be sidelined from the debate. His view is that French Muslims will play a key role in reforming Islam. He tells young French-born Muslims that Islam is now a major religion in Europe and it is up to them to help keep it alive. He also encourages them to stand up for their rights. He takes a middle-ground stand on headscarves, saying girls should neither be forced to wear them nor to take them off."