Letter from an "expelled" Muslim to an elected American

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: Conflicts And War, United States Of America Views: 7120

An open letter to President George W. Bush

Mr. President,

By a strange twist of fate, this year's calendar puts your inauguration on the same day as the most important religious day of the year for Muslims. Is it a historical irony that links these two celebrations together? As you are inaugurated for your second term, I, a European Muslim, want to share with you a few thoughts.

Mr. President, I was banished from the United States by your administration. My visa was revoked, as I was about to assume my position as a Professor at Notre Dame University. To this day, I have not been told the reasons behind this action. 

I do know, as does Homeland Security and the State Department, that my file is empty. The Patriot Act was put forward as an excuse and I was asked to reapply. Since then, there has been total silence. Why was this decision taken? What are you afraid of? Is it perhaps that academic freedom of expression has become a danger for you? Or is it perhaps the fact that it would have fortified criticism against you, no matter how constructive, especially coming from a Muslim intellectual? 

What are you doing to your country, Mr. President?

Along with the majority of Muslims around the world, I condemned the September 11 attacks. I shared and sympathized with the American people's pain. We understood their fears and the depth of their doubts. To transcend that traumatic experience, two things were crucial. First, Muslims had to firmly and clearly denounce terrorism and extremism, which they did, even if at times it was done timidly. Second, the American government should have shed light on the facts: how were such odious acts possible? Who was responsible for the multiple and repeated information failures? The people of the United States, like the rest of the world, needed explanations, transparency and truth.

However, since September 11th, 2001 your administration has continued to accumulate shadowy dealings. Boards of inquiry were delayed or strangely constituted; state secrets and sinister silences mushroomed. In the name of the "war against terrorism", the ultimate reason for legitimacy, did you permit your officials to make decisions and to act illegitimately, without a hint of accountability? Under your watch, laws eradicating civil liberties have been enacted which put into question the rights of citizens. Discrimination against Arabs and Muslims has been institutionalized and legalized. There is limitless scrutiny, individuals are arrested, and lying in the name of the State has become the norm. 

Whatever the tone of your generous speeches, facts do not lie: this is not a good time to be a Muslim in the United States. The consequences of the Patriot Act has been exactly what its' most virulent detractors had predicted - an infringement of citizens' rights and legalized discrimination that is reminiscent of the McCarthy era. 

Your commitment on the international stage is no less alarming. Your intervention in Afghanistan killed thousands of civilians who had nothing to do with the attacks of September 11th. The situation is unresolved. Bin Laden is still a fugitive and tortures exerted by those under your administration are a daily happening as confirmed by Human Rights Watch. 

Inhumane treatment inflicted on the Guantanamo prisoners in a declared "no rights" area is scandalous. Your intervention in Iraq only confirmed these practices, characterized by lies, systematic manipulation and in the end, the death of tens of thousands of Iraqis and Americans. The horrors of Abu Ghuraib prison, which appeared as revelations of torture were in fact institutionalized, from Afghanistan to Guantanamo. The American soldiers in Iraq are not primarily responsible: someone at the head of your administration had undoubtedly given the green light. Mr. Bush, would it be that you are in favour of torture exerted against Arabs and Muslims? Is this the message that one must understand from these actions?

For the last three years, your policy has consisted in victimizing the American super power to such an extent that in return, it has had total disrespect for basic human rights. Instead of calming spirits with more truth and dialogue, you have spread fear by keeping Americans in the dark and lying to them. It was expected that you would assist in surpassing the trauma of September 11th, not sustain it dangerously. You have won the elections by feeding the fears of your citizens and presenting yourself as their only guarantor of security. You won by playing on emotions, not intelligence.

Mr. President,

I have visited the United States more than twenty times in the past three years. I know that your country abounds with people of critical intelligence and honesty. Many of your citizens are not easily deceived. They are not only ashamed of the image you give of your country but, more deeply, of the way in which you are transforming it into a citadel besieged by fear and arrogance. 

As a European Muslim, frightened by your unilateralism and the serious excesses of your policies, it is towards worthy and critical American citizens that I invite Muslims to turn to and to bring together their hopes. If the Muslims are right in not trusting you, they should not confuse the American people with the increasingly blunt spirits that surround you.

It's been a couple of weeks that you have made your support for the victims of the Tsunami disaster public in order to show Muslims that you were capable of compassion and that you respected them. At the heart of this natural disaster, aware of the desolation and deaths, know Mr. President, that these Muslims remain lucid. You will not gain their trust through emotions.

Your second mandate begins January 20th. You presented yourself to the American people as the solution but you are in fact the problem. You have not ceased to deepen the gap between the United States and the rest of the world - not only the Muslim world but also Europe. As a European Muslim, I had the hope that by relocating to your country, I would have been able to bring a critical and constructive contribution. Your administration preferred to exclude me, like so many other Muslim intellectuals, in order to protect itself from debate and dialogue. 

I finally decided not to try settling in your country anymore. I am not sure what, during this second mandate, could rid you of this Manichean view and dangerous interpretation of the world. I do not know what could persuade you to use less lies and more truths. 

I know simply that the Muslims celebrate on this 20th of January, a faith which they consider stronger then your capriciousness. If with strength of conscience and intelligence, they succeed in distinguishing between your administration and the American people and continue to dialogue with those of your fellow-citizens who have not been blinded, then hope remains. That is the only hope, unless you are touched by grace and that you understand that it is urgent, for the good of our planet, that you change your policies.

Tariq Ramadan, is a Swiss scholar known for his work on Islamic theology and the place of Muslims in the modern world. He was appointed to teach Islamic philosophy and ethics at the University of Notre Dame. He received a visa from the State Department and was scheduled to start his classes in late August 2004. But just days before he was set to travel, his visa was revoked without explanation at the behest of the US - Department of Homeland Security.

  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: Conflicts And War, United States Of America
Views: 7120

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Older Comments:
Mashaallah! May almighty Allah reward him with a better appointment, ameen.

mashaallah, very good article. May Allah subhana wa taala reward him and make things easier for him... Perhaps, there is hiqma for him to stay in Europe. Allahu Alim. wasalam.

Under United Nations Convention Against Torture, an international treaty that almost every country in the world, including the United States, has ratified, torture is an international crime. The United States has made it a crime even if it occurs abroad.
"The Convention Against Torture also establishes what is called universal jurisdiction for cases of torture," Hence if you are an American citizen and have been engaged in torture anywhere in the world and were later found in Germany, lfor example then you will be arrested in Germany and either tried for torture there or extradited to the place of the torture for trial.
Interestingly US Federal law clearly states that torture committed by U.S. soldiers or private contractors acting under U.S. authority is a violation of federal law, punishable by the death penalty if the death of a prisoner results from the torture. Even if one argues that al Qaeda suspects are not governed by the Geneva Conventions, the Convention Against Torture and other human rights treaties ratified by the United States prohibit torture as well as other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

Hence what we have here is a president and his cohorts who are all guilty of torture and causing death by torture, and applying US Fedral Law they are punishable by death. Sadly a great majority of these murdered were innocent, picked up at random in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan and then brutalized till they died.

U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green a remarakable lady with more guts and honesty than the entire US congress put together has said that the men held as "enemy combatants" are entitled to the advice of lawyers and to confront the evidence against them in those proceedings. She also found that, the Defense Department has largely denied them these "most basic fundamental rights" during the reviews conducted at Guantanamo Bay, in the name of protecting the United States from terrorism. Will there ever be justice in the US ?

in my opinion us president is behaving like farrah of egypt and he should take some time to study and understand the philosophy of the torah and give a thought for self analysis farah was afraid of bani israel so he and his associate did every thing odd for his vary survival but at last the suppresed banisrael emerged victorious with the help of allmighty allah.

I agree fully with U.
Pls write another letter to Leaders/autocrats of muslim countries.
May Allah reward with best rewards.


Dear Mr Garnet. If you make a claim, the burden of proof is on you so please provide credible sources of your research so that readers can do their own homework in fact-finding. Please be responsible with your words as one should spread truth rather than spread rumors. How quickly we can spread lies just by a click of a button. May you find peace in your heart.

This is a very serious issue; for underneath it is the leeching away of the pluralism that makes the fabric of a functional representative democracy. The xenophobia and human rights abuses are very real. Many may not know this, but the Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo (and another Muslim US soldier) were both arrraigned on charges of conspiracy that proved to be completely erroneous. We can only assume it was because of their religion. I wish I could tell you people (but I'm sure you can guess) how many times I've heard anti-Islamic rhetoric from other Americans that assume I'll agree and am not Muslim because of my appearance (I'm a convert). Of course, I set th record straight whenever I can. Its been a challenge, as you can imagine. Many view me as a traitor and a collaborator. But that's okay, Islam is the truth and I only serve and fear Allah Subhana Wa-Tala.
Don't worry, Hudd, we are doing what we can (and you made some great points! The Christian Fundamentalists are indeed homegrown religious fascists!). Inshallah, we will overcome; but many of us are only now realizing the gravity of the situation, please forgive us for being late on arrival.
The key here is for us to get organized as an effective lobby group in the US that can act to protect us from wanton aggression. This is what the Jews did; at one time Anti-Semitism was pretty much a fact of life in this country (just like it was in Europe). Look at things now.
We can do the same, and indeed, we must. But the success of our efforts lies not in antagonsim or attack, but in winning the hearts and minds of others. This is done through right words and right actions. Prayers to Allah, of course, are the right words and the right actions. We must set the best of examples and be beyond reproach, just as our forefathers did.

Tariq Ramadan's assessment of George W. Bush's view as "Manichean" seems highly applicable. However, his reference to "increasingly blunt spirits" left me confused. Had the author, Tariq Ramadan, meant to suggest that President Bush is increasingly surrounding himself with dull and pointless individuals? If so then the author having repeatedly declared himself to be an intellectual could perhaps have an effect other than what he was hoping for, especially if he had hoped to appeal to a conservative audience. On the other hand, if he wishes to imply that Bush is by no means an intellectual then perhaps he should simply so say, however bluntly, in as much as honesty appears to be the sort of thing the author is hoping to encourage.

Also, I would certainly agree that the use of military force by America's neo-conservatives would seem to be a study in "capriciousness". All the same, the author should perhaps have used "than" in place of "then" within the sentence in which he accuses Bush of such carelessness. Perhaps President Bush's seemingly inexplicable refusal to plan ahead, particularly when ordering a full-scale invasion of a decidedly incendiary part of the world, might serve to remind believers that the real planning is actually done by someone else. Of course, whether or not there might be any lasting benefit to wreaking havoc, especially to those who do so with inadequate planning and preparation, seems perhaps worth considering.

salam 3laikoum!
Thanks a lot! for this letter ritten by a Muslim Intellectuel Woman!
I just would like to tell you that the same thing in Europe is happing to Muslims Communities.
Today we live in war against ISLAM and intecllectual muslims, a ware made by America, Europe, Pro-americain and Goverments of Islamic and Arabes Contries!!!
They dislike Intellectuals Muslmins because they Know that we get and have the truth!
excuse my english please!
and thank you!

Br's and Sr's that ALLAH(SWT) guides whom ever he wants and whom ever he wants would go astray.
Mr Bush is certainly astray at this point. One will have to be patient and wait to see what is ALLAH's purpose with him.

Mr Garnets, May Allah(SWT) guide you to the straight path. You are in much need of LIGHT. The deceiver Mr Bush. How many more lies and suffering will it take for people to turn their TV's off and come to reality.
Assalam alaikum

I feel that everything Mr. Ramadan has stated is valid. I'm not suprised by what happened because or by what he is saying because AMERIKKKA is built on lies and deceptions. It is unfortunate that he is not able to come to the US to enlighten all persons with his knowledge. I feel that it is best he is staying in europe, most of us that are in america are trying to get out. This country is has a wrath coming from allah that will be unbelievable. September 11 was just the begining.

Very funny, Mr Ramadan would be an Islamist. So what's the big idea? There are Christian fundamentalists that believe in an all Christian world. There are Zionists that believe in a world ruled by Israelites. Every one man's believe. For any Islamist to bring USA to an Islamic state would be an endeavour of epic proportions. Mr Garnets would better explain to us his idea of Islamism and Islamist. Of course Muslims believe in Islamic rule as well as Christian and Jews believe in their sort of ruling reciprocally! Why would anybody rule the other party's ideal any way? Would this be freedom of expression, where one is not even allowed to dream? With the exception of a doubtfull few, all nations are ruled by secular governments. Don't you think, Garnets, that before converting 300 million reluctant non-Muslims in USA, the Islamists would try to convert Saudi Arabia to the true Islam? Then other countries where the majority is Muslim? I can't believe how brainwashed some people are! The US refusal to Mr Ramadan to teach when he received a contract from a non"Islamist" organization is of bad politics and diplomacy toward a European country, Switzerland. So, Mr Ramadan does not pose a threat in Switzerland, the country of his residence, but would be of enormous danger to the American people? Doesn't this sound stupid? I personally, wouldn't bother, the whole thing is so idiotic that crowns the Bush's administration with the wreath reserved for placid donkeys in a goof parade! Still, I'm shocked at the amount of hatred agains Muslims in the most "tolerant" country of the world. Indeed, the donkey is the new symbol of Bushite America! Oh, for crying out loud, where is the American intelligentsia hybernating? Where are those brave American human rights worriors? Peace activists? Are they all in slumber? Alas, we are doomed!

From what I can read about Tariq Ramadan, it is truly a loss to the US that he was denied entrance. I am embarrassed about the apparent injustice done to him. He deserves at least an explanation.

Homeland security is a messy business whose goal is primarily to protect the American public. This duty leaves no room for error. We do not know the basis on which this decision was made. It is not inconceivable that they received information that put his stated goals in question. It is also possible that revealing the reason and or source may compromise that source. The lack of transparency leaves us with a nagging uncertainty as to what is the truth. My hope is that whatever led to the decision to revoke his visa that it was done in good faith with the goal of protecting our public and not for the suppression of ideas.

9/11 occurred during a time that our border was open and we were too trusting in a world that had become increasingly hostile to the US. Unfortunately Tariq suffers from our response. I can only hope that this will not turn Tariq into another Muslim scholar/cleric that vilifies the US. By using his influence to moderate the militancy within his own religion he has the ability to help defuse the situation. When the US feels less threatened by Islamists, its border will become more porous.

Please stay over in Europe, Dr. Ramadan. We have no desire for Islamists to come to the US to replace our system of governance with an Islamic system. Either you come here to be a member of a multi-cultural, multi-religious country, or don't bother coming. We're not interested in Islam dominating over other religions. "That Ramadan believes Islam will replace Judaism and Christianity may come as a surprise to those who thought he was just saying Islam is compatible with liberal values (it will certainly surprise the fathers at Notre Dame). Rather, Ramadan is a cold-blooded Islamist who believes that Islam is the cure for the malaise wrought by liberal values. ..... His cry of death to the West is a quieter and gentler jihad, but it's still jihad. There's no reason for Western liberals to try to understand that point of view."


I hope that brother Tariq doesn't give up on attempting to come to the US. I think that Muslim intellectuals' participation in institutions that influence the people of this country could be of many benefits for Muslims and non-Muslims. Especially since American foreign policy will have great consequences for the Muslim world in the next couple of hundred years.

One thing that gets to me a little bit is brother Tariq's choice of word order, saying "European Muslim", instead of saying "Muslim European". I can live with that, but it just bugs me when I see that.

Although I am aware that sometimes when writing or giving speeches we have to keep our audience in mind, I just think saying "Muslim American" or "Muslim European" is better.

Anyhow, I think that brother Tariq should continue to attempt to come here. And maybe we can write letters to the hypocrite politicians to point out that they are not living up to their professed religion of democracy.

In addition to that I think that Muslim leaders and wealthy individuals should take it upon themselves to invest in the mainstream media, as well as have independent, non-secular media outlets, so they can shape the language through which people see the world.

I would do that myself but I am not rich. I hear a lot of Muslims have wealth; I am not seeing results in the media though. If any of you know some rich Muslims maybe you can encourage them to do that.

I want to end by saying let us remember the willingness of Ibrahim (pbuh) to sacrifice his son for Allah. Where are the wealthy Muslims who have been blessed?

When Dr. Tariq Ramadan speaks, people of conscience listen. Muslims the world over are indebted to leaders like Dr. Ramadan (and celebrated artist Yusuf Islam) for bringing moderate Islam to the forefront. It is truly a shame that America refuses to support moderate Islam. Instead, America chooses to engage in a "divide and conquer" mentality like it is trying to do in Afghanistan and Iraq. While in the short run Muslims of different tribal and subsects may quarrel. In the end, they will unite in the brotherhood we all know as Al-Islam.

A precise, lucid and very polite explanation of the rightful feelings and thoughts of over 1 billion Muslims about America. Moreover, every intellectually capable person, even if not Muslim, will agree with this letter.

if in fact,
"this is not a good time to be a Muslim in the United States."
I would like to know why the author would like to go back to Notre Dame.
He fails to recognize that its not about Mr. Bush or its administration.
Its about the system that allows such things to occur.

Whethere its Mr Clintons administration or Mr Nixon or Kennedy's of Mr George Washingtion's.

Capitalsim with selected democracy with U.S justice system is a Failure.
You cannot have a success story here no matter how you look at it.

Tariq Ramadan is indeed a scholar ! Br.Tariq, you should come and make your invaluable contributions in Canada !!!!! You would be most welcome here.

We as American Muslims need to stop complaining so much. We live in a great nation that allows us to practice our religion freely - even more free than many Arab nations. America was attacked by Arabs and by people who call their actions "Islamic". Maybe, instead of writing and complaining about the United States, use your efforts to write about how extreme and militant Islam has become in mosques around the world. Most teach hatred and lack religious tolerance. This is what's important - we need to change ourselves - before we can expect to change others.

Glory be to Allah the most High.

Professor Ramadan I am glad the US rejected your visa; otherwise I would not have heard of you!

Having listened to you, during your Australian tour, and having just completed reading "Muslims, the West, and Modernity" I can finally say I have found the voice that articulates for me the imperatives of the Muslim citizen in this age.

You enlighten and empower by your words. Unlike so many other "contemporary writers" who dwell too much in rhetoric and un-synthesised dogma, which restricts and tightens one's heart.

The modern challenge you raise for all Muslims and kindred justice seekers is an affront to the liars, despots, and fear mongers, wherever they are.
3:54 And they plotted and planned, and Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah...

Excellent. Lucid. Incisive. But Bush is DEAF to such clear arguments. Deaf, Dumb and Blind..he shall not reform or return.