State Department Finds Tariq Ramadan No Longer Terrorist, But Still Undesirable
Thank God, the State Department has seen reason and decided that Tariq Ramadan, Europe’s foremost Muslim theologian and exponent, isn’t a terrorist. But he’s still apparently dangerous enough that State defines him as a U.S. ‘undesirable’ and refuses him entry into this country. What danger does he constitute and on what basis do they continue to deny him a visa? He donated to a French charity that supports needy Palestinians! This from the NY Times via Reuters:
A prominent Swiss Muslim intellectual said Monday that the United States government had dropped charges against him of supporting terrorism, but that it had refused to allow him to enter the country.
Tariq Ramadan, now an academic at Oxford University, said he had received an official letter effectively clearing him of charges that kept him from taking up a teaching position at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
However, the letter from the United States Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, explained the continued ban by saying he had contributed about $770 to a Palestinian support group, he said.
“This is an ideological exclusion,” he said by telephone from London. “This is the only way they can justify their decision after two years of investigation.”
The State Department confirmed that it had denied Mr. Ramadan a visa, but said it had nothing to do with his views.
“A U.S. consular officer has denied Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s visa application,’’ said a State Department spokesman, Kurtis Cooper, “for providing material support to a terrorist organization.
“The consular officer concluded that Dr. Ramadan was inadmissible based solely on his actions, which constitutedproviding material support to a terrorist organization.”
It had “nothing to do with his views.” That’s probably some sort of legalspeak mumbo-jumbo that’s apparently supposed to persuade us of something. Of course, it has EVERYTHING to do with his views. He’s an uppity Muslim. One who refuses to be an Uncle Tom ‘good Muslim’ (as defined by the Cheneys of the world). The truth is they couldn’t find anything he’d written or said that warranted an ideological exclusion, so they based it on his alleged actions.
I’m guessing there’s some slight legal basis for abandoning the “views” approach and adopting an “actions” approach. Possibly, the government believes it’s easier to bar someone based on their actions. But let’s examine what the actions were:
Mr. Ramadan said his contributions to the French-based Committee for Charity and Aid to Palestinians were apparently seen as support for the Palestinian movement Hamas, which the United States government considers a terrorist organization.
However, he said he had sent the funds in 2000, long before Hamas was declared a terrorist group. He said that the aid group was legal in France, and that the French city of Lille had cooperated with it for several years.
Did you know that U.S. laws and statutes can now be applied retroactively? Sure, it’s illegal to support Hamas in 2006 but it wasn’t in 2000. So somehow, Ramadan would’ve needed to clairvoyantly predict that the charity would be deemed treif six years later. C’mon guys (& gals), this won’t stand up to the most elementary judicial review.
The grounds under which he was denied are called ‘material support.’ Even this legal standard is under attack:
The groups further criticized the government’s use of the material support law as a “six degrees of separation” approach to block Ramadan and others from entering the United States.
“We are deeply disappointed that in light of Judge Crotty’s ruling the government sought the narrowest procedural opening to deny Professor Ramadan a visa…,” said Larry Siems, Director of Freedom to Write and International Programs at PEN American Center. “An overly broad ‘material support’ law should not be used as a back-door route for ideological exclusion.”
The ACLU has challenged the constitutionality of material support laws in numerous other cases. In a recent California case, a federal judge struck down part of the statute as unconstitutionally vague. The government appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit. In a friend-of-the-court brief, the ACLU and a coalition of human rights groups argued that the statute unconstitutionally interferes with efforts to provide humanitarian aid to civilian populations in war zones.
This is an example of government oversight gone berserk. I can’t believe the ACLU said merely that it would consider appealing the latest decision:
The Civil Liberties Union said it was considering an appeal of the decision denying the visa.
An appeal should be a no brainer.