A little less than a year after an academic and other groups wrote the Secretaries of State, Homeland Security and Justice demanding that the Obama Administration end President Bush’s “practice of ‘ideological exclusion’” in its visa policy, it seems that two Muslim academics previously barred entry could soon be making their way to American soil with visas in hand.
“Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has signed orders effectively reversing the Bush Administration’s decisions to bar two prominent foreign Muslim scholars, Adam Habib and Tariq Ramadan, from entry into the United States,” reported Peter Schmidt for the Chronicle of Higher Education yesterday.
“The orders, signed last week but not made public until today,” he writes, “clear the way for Mr. Habib, a South African political commentator, and Mr. Ramadan, a European scholar of Islam, to apply anew for entry visas without having the past reasons for their exclusion held against them.”
Why would these academics have been banned from the U.S. under President Bush? Because they allegedly participated in terrorist acts. And if the order was signed last week, then the decision to reconsider their visas came within half a month of the Christmas attempt to bomb Flight 253.
Schmidt writes that Habib was banned from the U.S. for engaging in “terrorist” activities not disclosed by the government. “Secretary Clinton’s order pertaining to Mr. Ramadan says that he will not be excluded for donation he made before 2003 to two charities that the U.S. Treasury subsequently designated as terrorist organizations to the Palestinian militant group Hamas: the French-based Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens and the Swiss-based Association de Secours Palestinien,” he writes.
Alleged is a interesting word to use here considering that the U.S. Treasury designated the CBSP and ASP as “primary fundraisers for HAMAS in France and Switzerland, respectively” in August 2003.
The U.S. government continued to deny Ramadan, currently a Oxford University professor, a visa based on revised “material support” definitions. (His grandfather also, according to Olivier Guitta, founded the Muslim Brotherhood; Hamas “gew out of the Muslim Brotherhood…” states the Council on Foreign Relations website.)
According to ABC 7 Eyewitness News, “The American Civil Liberties Union said it expects the scholars will now get visas within weeks of requesting them.”
So, will the rest of the people on the letter’s list also gain visas in due course? “Secretary Clinton’s orders did not tackle the broader question of whether the Obama administration planned to end ‘ideological exclusion,’ the controversial practice, adopted by the federal government after the 2001 terrorist attacks, of denying visas to intellectuals based on their viewpoints,” writes Schmidt. “Nevertheless, Mr. Nelson of the AAUP expressed hope that the orders meant ‘such ideological exclusions are now entirely in our past.’”
Read more AIA stories on Tariq Ramadan:
Bethany Stotts is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.