A stunning development: Tariq Ramadan, the controversial European Muslim, grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, moderate or pseudo-moderate depending on who was doing the explaining, was slated to teach at the University of Notre Dame this fall. But his visa has been revoked by the Department of Homeland Security. From the Chicago Tribune, with thanks to LGF:
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has revoked a visa granted to Tariq Ramadan, a renowned Islamic scholar who is accused by some Jewish groups of being a Muslim extremist, effectively barring him from a teaching post he was to begin this week at the University of Notre Dame.
Ramadan, a rising academic star in Europe who is regarded by Islamic scholars and experts as a Muslim moderate, was appointed to teach Islamic philosophy and ethics in South Bend through the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. University classes begin Tuesday.
A resident of Switzerland, Ramadan was given a visa in February that permitted him to work in the United States, according to government officials. That decision was reversed July 28.
Notre Dame officials said the university was working with the U.S. government and hoped to have the decision reversed. In a statement issued to the Tribune, the university said no reason was given for the visa revocation.
“Professor Ramadan is a distinguished scholar and a voice for moderation in the Muslim world,” the university said. “We know of no reason his entry should be prevented.”
Kelly Shannon, a spokeswoman for the State Department’s consular affairs section, said Monday that Ramadan initially received a visa after being cleared by Homeland Security. But Homeland Security later reversed its decision, ordering the State Department to revoke the visa.
According to Shannon, Ramadan’s visa was revoked under a section of the U.S. immigration law dramatically changed by the USA Patriot Act, the controversial legislation approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
In addition to allowing the U.S. to revoke a visa from an alleged member of a terrorist organization, the new section authorizes visa revocation because of someone’s political activities if those efforts are seen as endorsing terrorism. Visas also can be revoked because of membership in social groups or other organizations that have offered a “public endorsement of acts of terrorist activity” that could undermine U.S. “efforts to reduce or eliminate terrorist activities.”
Shannon did not say which specific piece of the law was applied in Ramadan’s case.
Contacted by phone, Ramadan declined to comment Monday.
It is Ramadan’s pedigree, rather than his writings, that has particularly exposed him to criticism. His grandfather is Hassan al-Banna, who in 1928 founded the Muslim Brotherhood, a conservative religious and political organization that has influenced Islamic groups and movements across the world. Founded as a radical group that sought the violent overthrow of the secular Egyptian government, it has since renounced violence as a means for political change.
Notre Dame officials felt Ramadan’s perspective would be valuable to the conversation in the U.S. about Islam. Departing from traditional Islamic thinking, Ramadan has written that there are multiple interpretations of the Koran and that Muslims should engage in ijtihad, a perpetual process of interpreting the holy texts of Islam so that the faith evolves and is compatible with modern times.
Barring intellectuals such as Ramadan from the United States undermines the U.S. government’s efforts to fight terrorism, said John Esposito, a Georgetown University professor and author of “Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam.”
“At the heart of it, people refuse to distinguish moderate Muslims from extremists,” said Esposito, who describes Ramadan as “an established academic . . . with a strong record.”
“They want to say all Muslims are a monolithic threat, which means they are excluding the very audience President Bush and his administration should be reaching out to–the moderates,” said Esposito, a leading expert on Islam.
This is just silly. I don’t refuse to distinguish moderate Muslims from extremists. I just don’t want to accept any self-proclaimed moderate without making sure he is not an extremist practicing religious deception, or taqiyya. Apparently the jury is still out on Professor Ramadan.