AAUP Protest Barring of Muslim Scholar
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) recently protested the U.S. government’s action to revoke the work visa of Professor Tariq Ramadan, a citizen of Switzerland and well-known Muslim scholar who had been appointed to a faculty position at the University of Notre Dame beginning this fall. The State Department’s action, apparently taken pursuant to a request by the Department of Homeland Security, bars the professor from entering the country.
Although the professor had previously visited this country without hindrance or incident, his work visa apparently was revoked because of his political beliefs and the content of his writings. A spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said that Ramadan was considered a person of “prominence” who had endorsed or espoused terrorist activity, and the State Department cited a statute banning persons who the government “knows or has reasonable ground to believe, . . . is likely to engage in . . . any terrorist activity.”
Robert O’Neil, chair of the association’s Special Committee on Academic Freedom and National Security in a Time of Crisis, registered the association’s protest in a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge. “Foreign scholars offered appointments at an American institution of higher learning should not be barred by our government from entering the United States because of their political beliefs or associations or writings,” O’Neil said. Such actions, he continued, are “manifestly at odds with our society’s respect for academic freedom.”
The association urged the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security to reconsider their position and to remove the barrier to Ramadan’s taking up his faculty appointment at the University of Notre Dame.
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