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State Department Ends Unconstitutional Exclusion of Muslim Scholars From U.S.

Tariq RamadanR

Professors Adam Habib And Tariq Ramadan Likely To Be Readmitted To United States, Says ACLU

In a major victory for civil liberties, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has signed orders that effectively end the exclusion of two prominent scholars who were barred from the United States by the Bush administration. The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the denial of visas to Professors Adam Habib of the University of Johannesburg and Tariq Ramadan of St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, in separate lawsuits filed on behalf of American organizations that had invited the scholars to speak to audiences inside the United States.

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During the Bush administration, the U.S. government denied visas to dozens of foreign artists, scholars and writers – all critics of U.S. policy overseas and many of whom are Muslim – without explanation or on vague national security grounds. In a speech in Cairo in June 2009, President Obama addressed the relationship between the United States and Muslims around the world, calling for “a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground.” The ACLU welcomed the State Department’s orders as an important step toward achieving that goal.

Professor Tariq Ramadan is Chair of Contemporary Islamic Studies at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. In 2004, he accepted a tenured position at the University of Notre Dame, but the U.S. government revoked his visa just days before he was to begin teaching there. The ACLU and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in 2006 challenging his exclusion on behalf of the American Academy of Religion, the American Association of University Professors and the PEN American Center.

“I am very pleased with the decision to end my exclusion from the United States after almost six years,” said Ramadan. “I want to thank all the institutions and individuals who have supported me and worked to end unconstitutional ideological exclusion over the years. 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.”

More information about both cases is available online at: Academy of Religion v. Napolitano

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