Six years after the Bush administration denied entry into this country to Muslim intellectual, Tariq Ramadan, the Obama administration has reversed course, thus righting an egregious wrong that stained America’s record throughout the Muslim world and elsewhere. In 2004, Notre Dame invited him to assume an academic chair and he had packed up and was ready to fly to the U.S. U.S. diplomats suddenly summoned him and told him his visa had been revoked. As in immigration situations like this, they did not have to give a reason and didn’t.
Later, after an outcry erupted from free speech advocates, the Bush administration revealed that Ramadan had contributed $1,200 to a Swiss Muslim charity which had been known to support Hamas social charity efforts. Because Hamas is now listed as a terrorist organization, the U.S. considered Ramadan an abettor of terrorism. At the time of these gifts, Hamas was NOT listed and of course Ramadan had no idea that such gifts could be considered in this way. He did not give to any Hamas-related charities after its designation.
Ramadan enlisted the legal help of the ACLU which has fought this case from the beginning. The other day the State Department finally did the right thing (though six years late) and announced they would no longer refuse a visa to the Muslim philosopher or another South African Muslim legal scholar it also had barred:
“I am very happy and hopeful that I will be able to visit the United States very soon and to once again engage in an open, critical and constructive dialogue with American scholars and intellectuals,” Professor Ramadan said in a statement.
I wrote about the injustice meted out to Tariq Ramadan from the beginning and I must say it is one of the few times I’ve done so and been able to write a blog post like this acknowledging that a small victory has been won in the battle for justice and civil liberties. I hope to one day be able to write such a post about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict though it may take a bit longer.
However frustrating the Obama Middle East policy may be I also have to credit the president and secretary of state for righting this wrong.
This is a bittersweet victory because Notre Dame no longer has an academic chair available for Prof. Ramadan. It is my hope that another comparable institution will recognize the value of his presence and accord him the honor he deserves.
It’s instructive of Tablet Magazine’s political proclivities that they’ve offered a pulpit to prominent Islamophobe, Paul Berman, who is writing a book which will expose Tariq Ramadan’s alleged Islamist perfidy for all the world to see. Tablet aptly titles this bit of puerility, Intellectual Jihad.
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- South African thanks those who challenged US ban (seattletimes.nwsource.com)