The ACLU and Tariq Ramadan won a major legal victory in their campaign to allow Ramadan entry to the U.S., where he had been appointed a tenured professor at Notre Dame University. The Bush administration argued successfully that it was entitled to bar Ramadan because he had given a donation to a Muslim charity which funneled some of the funds to Hamas. The government’s argument was that Hamas was a designated terror organization and Ramadan’s support marked him as a supporter of terror. The Muslim spiritual leader argued that Hamas was not yet an official terror group when he made his donation and he had no idea that his gift would be transferred from the charity to Hamas.
The federal court ruled that Ramadan had the right to an opportunity to explain the circumstances of his gift in an attempt to satisfy the government’s concerns. It sent the case back to the lower court for rehearing on this issue.
The ACLU is hoping the Obama administration will reopen the entire case and find a way to permit Ramadan entry to the U.S. In addition, scores of other foreign academics have been excluded for ideological reasons. In one case I wrote about here an Anglo-Indian musicologist was denied entry for no discernible reason, since she had no political or ideological affiliations.
Though this ruling does not fully resolve the issue, it at least provides a way to undo the harm of the Bush era Islamophobic/xenophobic approach to intellectual exchange.
Ramadan told the N.Y. Times about the work he hopes to do here in the U.S. when he is allowed entry:
Professor Ramadan, who in the past had frequently visited the United States, lecturing and attending conferences, said he was eager to “engage once again with Americans in the kinds of face-to-face exchanges” which were “crucial to bridging cultural divides.”
“I hope to be able to come back to the States and resume my work with scholars,” he said later by phone. “This is what I want.”
I would urge you to e mail Attorney General Eric Holder and tell him you don’t find Tariq Ramadan a danger to this country and that you welcome hearing what he has to say here.