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ACLU Sues to Allow Tariq Ramadan to Address U.S. Writer’s Conference

The NY Times reports that the ACLU is suing to enable Tariq Ramadan to enter the U.S. in order to participate in academic conferences here:

The ACLU asked a federal court in New York for a preliminary order to stop the administration from banning a prominent Swiss Muslim scholar from speaking in the United States. The scholar, Tariq Ramadan, has been barred from this country since his visa was revoked in July 2004, a week before he was scheduled to begin a job at the University of Notre Dame. Administration officials explained the action by citing a USA Patriot Act ban of foreigners who “espouse terrorist activity.”

The ACLU site says this about the injunction motion:

The ACLU asked a federal court to prevent the Departments of State and Homeland Security from barring a prominent Swiss scholar from entering the country to speak to American audiences.

In legal papers filed today, the ACLU said the government wrongfully used a section of the Patriot Act known as the “ideological exclusion” provision to deny a nonimmigrant visa to Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen who now teaches at the University of Oxford. As a result, Ramadan will be unable to speak at events organized by the ACLU’s clients, the American Academy of Religion, the American Association of University Professors and PEN American Center.

“The government does not have the authority to exclude foreign scholars at the border simply because it disagrees with their political views,” said ACLU staff attorney Jameel Jaffer, who is lead counsel in this case. “To invest the government with that authority would be to invest it with sweeping power to manipulate and censor debate inside the United States:…

The groups say that there is no evidence – and the government has never pointed to any – that Ramadan approves of terrorism. In fact, they say, Ramadan has repeatedly condemned terrorism…

The ACLU said Ramadan is not being excluded because of any alleged support of terrorism, but because he is a vocal critic of American policy in the Middle East…

The ACLU is asking the court to issue a preliminary ruling to allow Ramadan to attend PEN American Center’s “World Voices” Festival in New York, from April 25 to 30.

PEN Center World Voices festival

Read here the full text of the motion and Ramadan’s affidavit supporting it.

I hope that the federal judge handling this case sees the merit of the ACLU’s position and allows Ramadan to speak to U.S. audiences. I certainly don’t believe that they will be subjected to pro-terror propaganda in the process. And can we get the Department of Homeland Security out of the political nanny business? Aren’t we adult enough to hear a broad range of ideas and decide which ones are credible ourselves without our government, like the nanny it can sometimes be, covering our ears so we don’t hear the ‘naughty bits?’

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