With Bans Lifted, Prominent Scholars To Arrive In U.S.

March 22, 2010 1:07 pm

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Professors Adam Habib And Tariq Ramadan No Longer Denied Visas Because Of Their Political Views

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NEW YORK – Two prominent scholars are coming to the United States after years of being wrongfully denied entry to the country on the basis of their political views. The American Civil Liberties Union had 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 them to speak to U.S. audiences.

In a major victory for civil liberties, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in January signed orders effectively ending the exclusion of Professors Habib and Ramadan. Both men have since obtained 10-year visas and will be in the U.S. over the next few weeks to participate in various events and discussions with academics, members of Congress and the public. They will both be available to members of the media during their stay.

“We are thrilled that Americans will no longer be deprived of the opportunity to engage Professors Habib and Ramadan in face-to-face dialogue and debate,” said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. “The Obama administration’s decision to stop barring Professor Habib and Ramadan from the U.S. demonstrates its commendable commitment to the free exchange of ideas. We hope this signals that the administration will review the cases of others barred because of their political views, and end the unlawful and un-American practice of ideological exclusion for good.”

Professor Adam Habib is a respected political analyst and Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Advancement at the University of Johannesburg, as well as a Muslim who has been a vocal critic of the war in Iraq and some U.S. terrorism-related policies. The ACLU and the ACLU of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit in 2007 challenging his exclusion on behalf of the American Sociological Association, the American Association of University Professors, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights.

“It is wonderful for my wife Fatima and me to be back in the United States and to be able once again to engage with our many professional colleagues and friends here,” said Habib. “Secretary Clinton’s decision to end my exclusion is an important one for the advancement of free speech, human rights, and accountable government in the U.S. and globally. It is important that she follow through on this initial step and bring to an end the practice of ideological exclusion.”

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 happy that my nearly six-year exclusion from the United States is finally over,” said Ramadan. “I want to thank all the institutions and individuals who have supported me and worked to end the unconstitutional practice of ideological exclusion over the years. I look forward to my upcoming visit to the United States and the opportunity to once again engage in open, critical, and constructive dialogue with American scholars and intellectuals.”

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 – without explanation or on vague national security grounds.

Habib, who arrives this week, will participate in several university visits including a discussion of ideological exclusion on March 31 at Harvard Law School co-sponsored by the ACLU of Massachusetts. Ramadan, who will arrive in the beginning of April, will participate in several events including a panel discussion in New York on April 8 entitled “Secularism, Islam & Democracy: Muslims in Europe and the West,” co-sponsored by the ACLU, American Association of University Professors, PEN American Center and Slate.

Statements from the plaintiffs in the case challenging the exclusion of Adam Habib, ASA v. Clinton, are online at: www.aclu.org/national-security/american-sociological-association-v-clinton-plaintiff-statements-response-secretar

Statements from the plaintiffs in the case challenging the exclusion of Tariq Ramadan, AAOR v. Napolitano, are online at: www.aclu.org/national-security/academy-religion-v-napolitano-plaintiff-statements-response-secretary-clintons-ord

More information about the event “Secularism, Islam & Democracy: Muslims in Europe and the West” is available online at: www.aclu.org/tariqramadan

More information about ideological exclusion is available online at: www.aclu.org/exclusion

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