Another step towards an Iron Curtain


At the beginning of August, the Homeland Security Department (HSD) of the United States revoked the work and residence visa to the United States for our colleague Tariq Ramadan. The European-born and Geneva-based teacher had been hired by Notre Dame University where, two weeks later, he was supposed to have taken up a post as Professor of Islamic Studies and as Luce Professor, directing the "Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding" program.

The revocation of Mr. Ramadan's visa and thus his right to teach in the United States constitutes a breach in fundamental civil liberties, a breach legalized under the Patriot Act. This legislation, adopted on October 26, 2001 in the context of the reaction to the September 11, 2001 attacks, has gone beyond its legitimate objective of fighting terrorism. It is increasingly used to silence dissident voices, or simply critics, on sensitive questions such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, issues related to Islam or more generally to American foreign policy in the world.

The Patriot Act authorizes the control and censure of writings and publications and the surveillance of universities, both American and foreign. It permits the revocation of visas for teachers and students coming from countries judged to be "sensitive." This most recent use (or, more accurately, abuse) of this legislation contributes to a process that in the long run can substantially set back the right to freedom of thought and expression in universities and among researchers on both sides of the Atlantic and as such seriously affects relations between universities in Europe and the United States. A large number of American civic and professional organizations (American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Public Integrity, Pen Club American Center, American Academy of Religion, Middle East Studies Association, American Association of University Professors etc.) have denounced this abuse.

Faithful to the American spirit of exchange and openness, the American Association of University Professors, based in Washington, has strongly criticized the decision made by the Homeland Security Department with respect to T. Ramadan, stating that "foreign university professors to whom are offered the possibility of coming to work in an American institution of higher education should not be impeded by our government from entering the United States because of their political convictions, their associations, or their writings."

The university professors who have signed this statement are particularly committed to the fundamental freedoms and the policies that welcome foreign scientists and university professors. This permitted, in the past, many European intellectuals, persecuted for their political, religious or philosophical beliefs, to find "asylum" in American universities and to pursue in security their scientific activities.

The signers of this statement, citizens of the United States, or of Europe, are particularly attached to this "American spirit." America's noble record in modern history is today threatened. Therefore, we respectfully ask that the authorities of the United States reconsider their refusal to allow Tariq Ramadan to teach at Notre Dame, one of America's prominent universities.

Asma Afsaruddin, Notre Dame University
Mumtaz Ahmad, Hampton University
Lisa Anderson, Columbia University
Ali Banuazizi, Boston College
Joel Beinin, Stanford University
Laurie A. Brand, University of Southern California
L. Carl Brown, Princeton University
Richard Bulliet, Columbia University
Charles E. Butterworth, University of Maryland
Ahmad Dallal, Georgetown University
Fred M. Donner, University of Chicago
Dale F. Eickelman, Dartmouth College
Khaled Abou El Fadl, UCLA
John L. Esposito, Georgetown University
Richard A. Falk, Princeton University
Fawaz Gerges, Sarah Lawrence College
Dru Gladney, University of Hawaii
William A. Graham, Harvard University
Peter Gran, Temple University
Robert Hefner, Boston University
Nicholas S. Hopkins, American University in Cairo
Michael Hudson, Georgetown University
Sherman Jackson, University of Michigan
Nikki Keddie, UCLA
Mark Levine, UC Irvine
Peter Mandaville, George Mason University
Richard C. Martin, Emory University
Jane Dammen McAuliffe, Georgetown University
Aminah Beverly McCloud, DePaul University
C. M. Naim, University of Chicago
Augustus Richard Norton, Boston University
Sulayman Nyang, Howard University
William B. Quandt, University of Virginia
Abdulaziz A. Sachedina, University of Virginia
Nazif Shahrani, Indiana University
Amira Sonbol, Georgetown University
Tamara Sonn, College of William & Mary
Antony T. Sullivan Near East Support Service
Mark Tessler, University of Michigan
John O. Voll, Georgetown University


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  7 Comments   Comment

  1. Charles Jacks from USA

    Remember the profession of my faith is "There is no god but The Creator and nothing else worthy of worship, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself and thou shalt garden God's garden." Would you welcome those that are monotheist but not Muslim (as fundamentalists and puritan-icals would define it)?

    If not the human race is, well the human race is already in for some very hand times. Look to how the people of Haiti have responded to the combined problems of overpopulation and environmental threat both before and after the storms to see what could happen on a global scale in just a few years.

    Fore warned is fore armed, but it is sad when a people will not head warning nor accept fortification when it is offered.

    Peace be upon you all.

  2. Charles Jacks from USA

    Peace be upon you Ahmed Asgher. I am not sure PNAC is so much the leader or just a "face". Do a google search on (peacemaker Zionist) to see support for your assertion: "They truly are afraid of making peace since it endangers their interests." The struggle to get Daniel Pipes on the USIP tells much. Compare his assertions as to US policy toward Muslims with what has come to occur. See http://www.motherjones.com/news/update/2003/05/we_420_01.html

    For a synopsis.

    When revelation as to actions they should take was pointed out to them they took steps to disabuse their followers to attack the peacemaker that would point it out to them. In rejecting revelation from books they should respect, they won their failure. How is God and "Spiritual Services" to advance them if they reject revelation they find inconvenient. Indeed, given their antagonism toward both peace and revelation they won their opposition. Getting on the wrong side of a being that can create multiple universes, one of which is hell, is not my concept of intelligence. Especially when that Being is the ultimate arbitrator as to who advances and who doesn't.

    I hope the Muslims will not fail to accept the graciousness and mercy. The search is on as to who will accept the responsibility to advance humanity, both physically and spiritually. Enjoin all good things as in a race.

    I have marked "I am indifferent" so as not to show bias.

  3. Yahya Bergum from USA

    Oops! I meant to say "the nation's principles" as in the fundamental ideas leading to the establishment of a nation. I had not meant to say "the nation's principals" as in the most influential beneficiaries of various business arrangements upon which a nation is dependent. (Those sorts of principals currently appear to be enjoying the U.S. Government's blessing.)

  4. Yahya Bergum from USA

    If a nation's leaders feel they must suspend the nation's principals in order to convince its citizens to fight for their own survival then perhaps the nation could conceivably benefit from a change in leadership. It might at least seem prudent to give the matter a little thought.

    Peace, through victory, perhaps. Who can say with any degree of certainty? In the meantime, this particular citizen is interested in what Tariq Ramadan has to say.

  5. Ahmed Asgher from Bahrain

    Charles jcks

    i admire your reasoning, always profound.

    the point is not whether US has the right to deny entry to anyone, but the fact that patriot Act has rendered US Constitution null and void. It is used beyond its intended purpose by silencing dissent, as the authors have indicated and many other thinkers have agreed. Yet Romesh slanders those men and women of knowledge and assumes they are of foreign origin, yet he is the one who comes from India! Always more American than Americans!

    To deny entry to peace-loving people (as also with yossuf Islam aka Cat Stevens)is an indication that they have made their plans and such peaceful dialogue threatens their plans.

    Do a google for PNAC to read their plan and see their names. They truly are afraid of making peace since it endangers their interests. The US is becoming fear-riddled country with military ruling as the party of choice and compulsory draft on the horizon. Americans are fearful of travelling and this can not be right - so take a close look inwardly before you send peaceful dialogue packing.

    And nobody hates you for your freedom. If you truly believe that, then you need a hellova-alot of soul searching.

  6. Romesh Chander from US

    Everybody knows, I am highly critical of US policies. But I am also a fair person.

    The author writes and eminent professors agree by signing the article "The revocation of Mr. Ramadan's visa and thus his right to teach in the United States constitutes a breach in fundamental civil liberties..". To enjoy civil liberties in US, you have to be physically present in US; Dr Ramadan never made it to US. Can't the professors understand this elementary logic?. 45 years ago I came to US as a student. The US Embassy in New Delhi gave us information which stated that (1) Visa is issued by the State Department (2) entry to US is granted by Immigration and can deny entry for any reason even though the person carried a valid visa. Does Immigration deny admission into US? Yes, it does, but only in rare cases; and rarely the public comes to know of them because the persons denied permission were rarely important personalities.

    I hope the eminent professors (and some of them may be on temporary work visas) understand that US can and does cancel visas for the people who are already living and working in US (and they have little or no right to appeal, unless they carried Green Cards; Dr Ramadan was not coming to US as an immigrant, only as a temporary worker, probably one for one year entry to be renewed annualy and visa status adjusted).

    It may be stupid on the part of US Government (and believe me, US does lot of stupid things), but US can (and has the right to do so) refuse to admit any and all scientists from particular countries or all countries; after all, Dr Ramadan was not coming as an unpaid worker or for health reasons; he was going to earn a good living here and US can deny a 'visitor' to earn a living. US can even deny entry to "Einsteins" of the world; and has every right to do so.

  7. Charles Jacks from USA

    Unfortunately these folks have it backwards. Since the US won its spiritual failure it is, from the viewpoint of God and the "Spiritual Services", a dead man walking. However it won't be destroyed in a quick hard bump due both to its importance, economically and educationally to the rest of the world and because, to put it figuratively, the sponge is different from the fluid it contains. First the sponge will be squeezed and the rest of the world should be ready to accept the goodness that can be squeezed from it. It would be a waste to lose the good people or the rich body of knowledge that has been developed over the years in the US. Dispersing this to the deserving parts of the world should enrich them and allow for the continued advancement of humanity.

    Normally it would be important for good people to be allowed to come to the US. But now it is more important that the world prepare to accept those willing to leave.

    (I clicked indifferent since "I an for it" and "I am against it" could both be interperted incorrectly.