Court Rules Government Must decide Muslim Writer’s Visa Status by September

July 1, 2006
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July 1 – July 6, 2006 Edition

Court Rules Government

Must Decide Muslim Writer’s

Visa Status by September

Washington, DC /6/26/06—Citing the concern of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and other organizations, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has issued a decision criticizing the government’s failure to act promptly on the visa application of Professor Tariq Ramadan, and requiring the government to make a decision on the pending application by September 21, 2006. The AAUP in January joined two other national organizations in the lawsuit filed by the ACLU challenging the constitutionality of a key provision of the USA Patriot Act, which serves as the basis for barring Professor Ramadan from this country. The AAUP and its co-plaintiffs, the American Academy of Religion and PEN American Center, each seek to bring Professor Ramadan to the U.S. to meet with organization members.

Professor Ramadan, a Swiss national, is a Muslim scholar. Until recently, he visited the United States frequently to lecture, attend conferences, and meet with other scholars. In January 2004, Professor Ramadan was offered a tenured position at the University of Notre Dame’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Just a few weeks before the beginning of the fall semester, as Professor Ramadan prepared to move his family to Indiana, the US government revoked his visa.

Neither the professor nor the university received an explanation for this action, but a spokesperson for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security told the press in 2004 that the visa was revoked “because of a section in federal law that applies to aliens who have used a ‘position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity.’” This language appears in section 411 of the Patriot Act, and is known as the “ideological exclusion” provision.

The plaintiffs argued that the ideological exclusion provision violates their own First Amendment rights to hear a full range of ideas, and limits the freedom of academic discourse in this country. The court today recognized the need for quick action by the government in supplying an acceptable explanation for its exclusion of Professor Ramadan.

The American Association of University Professors is a nonprofit charitable and educational organization that promotes academic freedom by supporting tenure, academic due process, and standards of quality in higher education. The AAUP has about 45,000 members at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

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