A civil rights group asked a judge Friday to find it unconstitutional for the federal government to exclude a prominent Muslim scholar or anyone else from the United States on the grounds that they may have endorsed or espoused terrorism.
Another blow for civil liberties in America: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Terrorism.”
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the papers attacking the policy in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The group included in its submissions a written declaration in which the scholar, Tariq Ramadan, said he has always “opposed terrorism not only through my words but also through my actions.”
The ACLU said schools and organizations who want to invite Ramadan and others into the United States are concerned about what is known as the ideological exclusion provision.
It said an entry in the State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual says that the provision is directed at those who have voiced “irresponsible expressions of opinion.”
The group said the provision violates the First Amendment and has resulted since 2001 in the exclusion from the United States of numerous foreign scholars, human rights activists and writers, barred “not for legitimate security reasons but rather because the government disfavors their politics.”
The ACLU said some foreign scholars and writers are now reluctant to accept invitations to the United States because they will be subjected to ideological scrutiny and possibly denied entry.
And might have their feelings hurt, one hastens to add.
Rebekah Carmichael, a spokeswoman for government lawyers, said she had no comment Friday.
You could have managed better than that, Rebekah.
Before his visa was revoked in 2004, Ramadan had spoken at Harvard University, Stanford University and elsewhere. He said he continues to decline numerous invitations to appear in the United States, including a request by The American Academy of Religion to speak next November at its annual meeting.