ACLU Contests U.S. Government Visa Revocation For Tariq Ramadan


Global media are widely reporting on efforts by the American Civil Liberties Union to contest the decision by the U.S. government to revoke the visa of prominent Islamic figure Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to one report:

The United States has revoked the visa of Tariq Ramadan, an academic at Oxford University in Britain and a vocal critic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and its support of Israel, several times since 2004. Washington initially gave no reason for its decision, but later said Ramadan had been barred based on a provision of the USA Patriot Act, before then saying he supported terrorism. Ramadan said he was told a year ago he had been barred because he gave 1,670 Swiss Francs ($1,946) to the Association de Secours Palestinien (ASP) from 1998 to 2002. Washington banned ASP in 2003, claiming it supports terrorism and had contributed funds to Hamas. U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty heard arguments from government and civil liberties lawyers during a Manhattan federal court hearing on Thursday whether the United States acted properly in denying Ramadan’s visa. “Professor Ramadan has produced a great deal of evidence about why he gave to that organization,” American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Jameel Jaffer told Crotty, arguing Ramadan did not know ASP gave money to Hamas and that he donated money before the United States had banned it. U.S. government attorney David Jones said the government had provided a legitimate reason to deny Ramadan a visa and the judge did not have the power to review visa denials.The ACLU has championed Ramadan’s case as an example of how the United States is denying entry to foreign scholars. The ACLU is seeking to overturn as unconstitutional a part of the USA Patriot Act, which was passed in reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks, that bars anyone who endorses terrorism.

Ramadan is an extremely important figure within the Global Muslim Brotherhood network, perhaps best described as an independent power base with sufficient stature as the son of Said Ramadan, and the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood to challenge positions taken by important Brotherhood leaders. His statements and writings have been extensively analyzed and he has been accused by critics of promoting anti-Semitism and fundamentalism, albeit by subtle means. On the other hand, his supporters promote him as as example of an Islamic reformer who is in the forefront of developing a “Euro Islam.” A previous post has discussed one of Ramadan’s statements regarding Israel that contains views that could be construed as anti-Semitic.

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