Fwd: Viciousness of Patriot Act causes ban of Muslim scholar to peace post at Notre Dame
August 28, 2004, Washington Post
The Ban on a Muslim Scholar By Paul Donnelly
Tariq Ramadan, a professor at the College of Geneva and the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, is the author of a book that is perhaps the most hopeful work of Muslim theology in the past thousand years. This month he was to come to America to take the position of Luce professor of religion, conflict and peacebuilding at Notre Dame's Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, when suddenly his visa was revoked. Apparently Notre Dame didn't realize what a dangerous man it was getting.
Ramadan's grandfather was Hasan Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood.
But Ramadan's own views on the role of his faith, published in his book, "To Be a European Muslim," directly confront the alienation of Islam from modernity. Ramadan argues that the "us vs. them" vision of Islam, exponentially exaggerated by Osama bin Laden's demented Wahhabism, derives not from the Koran but from a worldview that is 10 centuries out of date.
When I interviewed Ramadan not long after Sept. 11, 2001, I asked what alternative he could offer Muslims. The true vision of Islam, he said, is not a snapshot of the world three centuries after the death of the prophet, but rather the unchanging Koran itself: "dar ash-Shahada," the "House of Witness," in which believers and unbelievers alike compete in doing good deeds to prove the truth.
Notre Dame officials insist that they have reviewed every charge against the Swiss scholar and agree with the likes of Scotland Yard and Swiss intelligence, which have found them to be groundless.
Ramadan has been attacked for "anti-Semitism." Why? Because of an article on French communalism that included this sentence: "French Jewish intellectuals whom we had thought of until then as universalist thinkers [have started] to develop analyses increasingly oriented toward a communitarian concern."
Set this statement beside an essay on anti-Semitism by Ramadan, in which he writes the following: "Nothing in Islam can legitimize xenophobia or the rejection of a human being due to his/her religious creed or ethnicity. One must say unequivocally, with force, that anti-Semitism is unacceptable and indefensible."
The official reason for revoking Ramadan's visa is the USA Patriot Act's provisions for those who have prominently espoused or endorsed terrorist activity. Ramadan has been dogged by rumors for years -- that he knew bin Laden as a boy ("no"), that terrorists attend his classes ("I don't know who is listening to me when I give a lecture in front of thousands of people"), that he arranged a meeting with al Qaeda deputy Ayman Zawahiri and convicted terrorist Omar Abdel Rahman in Geneva in 1991 (when, Ramadan notes, he was not even in Switzerland).
And this: that he denies al Qaeda was behind the Sept. 11 attacks.
"Never, never, never," Ramadan says in a determined voice over the phone. "I said to the Muslims after it happened, don't try to say 'we don't know who did this.' I said this from the very beginning, from Sept. 13, just two days later, even though we didn't know then exactly who did it -- but we know.
They were some Muslims."
Tariq Ramadan is a Muslim Martin Luther. That's why Notre Dame, an old institution with a modern Catholic dedication to theological scholarship, hired him. Winning the war on terrorism requires theology the way defeating communism required ideology. The Bush administration (which wouldn't do the necessary visa checks to keep real terrorists out of fake flight schools) risks a kind of unilateral disarmament.
Does it really think that Notre Dame University would hire an anti-Semite and advocate of terrorism?
Paul Donnelly, former head of the Immigration Reform Coalition, writes about immigration and citizenship. He can be reached at pauldonnelly@ medialever.com.
August 31, Chicago Tribune
A Muslim scholar's exclusion
Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss scholar known for his work on Islamic theology and the place of Muslims in the modern world, was supposed to start teaching last week at the University of Notre Dame. But after he got a visa from the State Department, it was revoked at the behest of the Department of Homeland Security, which apparently sees him as a danger. Why is anyone's guess, since the department declines to spell out the reasons he's been barred.
Some critics regard him as an anti-Semitic apologist for extremism. Among them is Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, who wrote in Sunday's Tribune to accuse Ramadan of connections with Al Qaeda, denying Osama bin Laden's role in the Sept. 11 attacks and defending the March terrorist bombing in Madrid.
On today's Commentary page, Ramadan rebuts the charges. He says Swiss and French authorities cleared him of alleged Al Qaeda contacts. After the Sept.
11 attacks, he insisted that whoever was to blame, "Bin Laden or others, it is necessary to find them and that they be judged." And, he declares, "I have always condemned the terrorist attacks in New York, Bali, Madrid and elsewhere."
The exchange makes an interesting debate, but unfortunately DHS, the key player, is not taking part. When contacted by the Tribune, a spokeswoman declined to specify what grounds it had for demanding that the visa be canceled. Apparently he was barred under a section of the USA Patriot Act, which bars entry to foreigners who have used a "position of prominence . . .
to endorse or espouse terrorist activity."
If the U.S. government has grounds to think Ramadan has worked with Al Qaeda to further its bloody ambitions, he should certainly be denied entry. But no one has produced tangible evidence that he is personally involved in such activities, and the law doesn't require such involvement. If he is being refused permission to teach in this country purely because of his views, the government has an obligation to Notre Dame and the American people to acknowledge that--and to specify which of his opinions endangers public safety.
Nothing that has come to light so far suggests that Ramadan endorses terrorism. His defenders say that on the contrary, he is known for urging a more modern understanding of Islam and for firmly denouncing anti-Semitism.
It's not likely that Notre Dame's Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies would knowingly grant its imprimatur to an apostle of violence.
Even if he did endorse terrorism, expressing such an opinion doesn't pose the sort of danger that the Department of Homeland Security should worry about. It's not illegal, after all, for Americans to express sympathy for Al Qaeda--or the Irish Republican Army or any other violent extremists. Only when such opinions veer into outright incitement to violence does law enforcement intervene.
As a foreigner seeking entry, Ramadan lacks the protection of the 1st Amendment, but that doesn't justify keeping him out merely because someone finds his beliefs obnoxious. When someone expresses such views, Americans traditionally rely on a better remedy: the vigorous expression of opposing views.
The government does have a critical obligation to protect Americans against anyone who can reasonably be suspected of assisting in the work of fanatical killers. If Homeland Security thinks Ramadan falls in that category, it should say so--and offer whatever evidence it can produce. If not, it should let him in.
Copyright � 2004, Chicago Tribune_____________________________________________
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- Sister and brother Catholic Workers:
Do any others in the U.S. besides me feel like we are living in a police state? This reneging on a visa is absurd. Nearly as absurd as protesters arrested in NYC at the Republican Nat'l. Convention this week being held for 48 hours without formal charges in order to keep them off the streets. While the entire time the President and his cronies are waxing poetical about the great freedoms we are introducing to the world. All a bit surreal, no?
- No kidding....And where did our bill of rights go?
From: Anthony Christiansen [mailto:anthony@...]
Sent: Saturday, September 04, 2004 8:18 PM
Subject: Re: [cathworker] Fwd: Viciousness of Patriot Act causes ban of
Muslim scholar to peace post at Notre Dame
Sister and brother Catholic Workers:
Do any others in the U.S. besides me feel like we are living in a police
state? This reneging on a visa is absurd. Nearly as absurd as protesters
arrested in NYC at the Republican Nat'l. Convention this week being held for
48 hours without formal charges in order to keep them off the streets.
While the entire time the President and his cronies are waxing poetical
about the great freedoms we are introducing to the world. All a bit
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