Is this man a terrorist? (credit: NYT)
The Bush Administration has made another grievous error insulting Muslim-Americans by revoking the travel visa of internationally renowned Muslim scholar, Tariq Ramadan, who was to teach this coming fall at Notre Dame University (Muslim Scholar Loses U.S. Visa). What is the government’s justification?
Dean Boyd, said his agency [Homeland Security] had given the State Department information about Mr. Ramadan. He declined to say what it was.
“We provided the information to them, and they ultimately made a decision to revoke the visa,” Mr. Boyd said. “Generally speaking, the criteria for revocation of visas include public safety risk or national security threat.”
Kelly Shannon, a spokeswoman for the State Department, said Mr. Ramadan’s visa was revoked under a legal provision that bans espionage agents, saboteurs and anyone the United States “knows, or has reasonable ground to believe, is engaged in or is likely to engage after entry in any terrorist activity.” She said she could not provide any details about Mr. Ramadan’s case.
So, Tariq Ramadan is either a spy, saboteur or potential terrorist??? Gimme a break! This is an outrage not just to Muslim-Americans but to all who cherish religious freedom, the right to think and teach, and all who love freedom and liberty.
Officials of the University have expressed their concern over the incident:
Scott Appleby, director of the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, where Mr. Ramadan was to teach at Notre Dame, said: “I worry about the implications for academic freedom and more generally for freedom of speech and the openness of American society. A secondary, more subtle level of concern is about how ready we are as a society to hear a discourse that is authentically Muslim, not an extremist discourse but one that is critical of U.S. policy.
I deeply hope that the leaders of my own Jewish community will unite to issue a statement in Ramadan’s defense.
The only possible offense I can see that Ramadan committed is his attack on several French Jewish intellectuals for what he saw as their undue deference to Israel in their views on the Mideast conflict (see my two posts Tariq Ramadan I and Tariq Ramadan II). I said at the time that I didn’t agree with Ramadan’s statements in this case and found them borderline anti-Semitic. But Ramadan has made other positive and forthright statements about relations between Muslims and Jews (including a persuasive interview in Haaretz which I link to) which mitigate what he said about the French intellectuals.
Since when do we let a few blockheads in Homeland Security and the State Department decide that a prominent (and totally non-violent) scholar is too dangerous for our citizens to hear? I’m so mad as I write this that my blood pressure’s probably gone up ten points.