When federal agents denied a controversial Mid East scholar a work visa, the school that wanted to hire him also went into denial.
The U. S. Department of Homeland Security’s lifting of Tariq Ramadan’s visa may have saved the University of Notre Dame, his prospective employer, no end of embarrassment over the lecturer’s mysterious past, but the school doesn’t see it that way.
“We have seen no evidence that he poses any threat to our national security,” said Scott Appleby, director of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.
“In fact, we believe the world could be a safer place if he is allowed to continue his work of bringing together in dialogue the divided and contentious voices within Islam.”
The Institute had hired Ramadan, who was born in Switzerland, as its Luce Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding. The Department of Homeland Security would not give an official reason for denying Ramadan a visa.
Mid East scholar Daniel Pipes surveyed the foreign language press to examine statements that Ramadan has offered in recent years and found some cause for concern:
“Along with nearly all Islamists, Mr. Ramadan has denied that there is ‘any certain proof’ that Bin Laden was behind 9/11,” Pipes notes. “He publicly refers to the Islamist atrocities of 9/11, Bali and Madrid as ‘interventions,’ minimizing them to the point of near endorsement.
Writer Olivier Guitta, in turn, goes back to Ramadan’s family tree to lay out other links that might make him a problematic guest in this country. “For starters, he is the grandson of Hassan Al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist terrorist organization born in Egypt in 1928,” Guitta writes. “The Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood is none other than the terrorist movement Hamas, which routinely commits brutal suicide attacks against Israeli civilians.”
Many of Ramadan’s statements appear in the foreign language press. Elizabeth Shemla, from proche-orient.info, tried to warn Notre Dame officials of Ramadan’s connections but her reports fell on deaf ears.
Notre Dame, interestingly, is in South Bend, Indiana, three hours from Plainfield, near the state capitol of Indianapolis. The Islamic Society of North America is headquartered in Plainfield. A three-hour drive is a routine trip for natives of Indiana to make.
The Islamic Society of North America, as I reported earlier this year, held a conference a year after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States in which none of the speakers would pin the blame for the attacks on Osama Bin Laden. Ironically, not having Ramadan on its faculty helps Notre Dame avert a potential crisis akin to the actual one faced by the University of South Florida and its past president, Betty Castor.
Last year, the University fired Sami Al Arian after federal officials arrested him on complicity in terrorism. The University’s former president, Betty Castor, refused to take action when terrorism expert Steve Emerson produced damaging footage of al Arian that he incorporated into the 1994 documentary Jihad in America.
Castor refused to take action and was repeatedly reminded of it when she ran for the U. S. Senate seat vacated by retiring Sen. Bob Graham. One of her opponents in the Democratic primary repeatedly reminded her of this oversight. Castor won the primary but now faces the heavily-favored Republican nominee, Cuban-born Mel Martinez, in November.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia .