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ADC: Visa Ban Lifted, Renowned Professors Enter U.S

posted on: Mar 22, 2010

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) welcomes the decision by the U.S. Department of State to end the exclusions of two prominent foreign professors from the United States. Professor Adam Habib and Professor Tarik Ramadan, along with ADC, were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In separate lawsuits the ACLU challenged the denial of the professor’s visas. After months of negotiations Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed orders eliminating the exclusions on Professors Habib and Ramadan, and lifted the ban on their entry to the United States. Both men have been granted 10 year visas, and will arrive in the U.S. this week to participate in various events and discussions with academics, members of Congress and the public.

ADC National President, Ms. Sara Najjar-Wilson, says, “ADC congratulates the ACLU and their team of dedicated attorneys who worked on these cases. Using ideological exclusion to deny foreign scholars, artists and politicians is of serious concern to the civil rights community. ADC hopes that the current administration will end the practice of ideological exclusion. ADC looks forward to meeting with Professors Habib and Ramadan in the very near future.”

“We are thrilled that Americans will no longer be deprived of the opportunity to engage Professors Habib and Ramadan in face-to-face dialogue and debate, said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project.” The Obama administration’s decision to restore Professors Habib and Ramadan’s ability to speak in the United States demonstrates a commendable commitment to a free and robust global exchange of ideas. It is also a promising sign that the Obama administration will review other Bush-era cases where people were barred because of their political views and will end the unlawful and un-American practice of ideological exclusion for good.”

Professor Adam Habib is a respected political analyst and Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Advancement at the University of Johannesburg. “It is wonderful for my wife Fatima and me to be back in the United States and to be able once again to engage with our many professional colleagues and friends here,” said Habib. “Secretary Clinton’s decision to end my exclusion is an important one for the advancement of free speech, human rights, and accountable government in the U.S. and globally. It is important that she follow through on this initial step and bring to an end the practice of ideological exclusion.”

Professor Tariq Ramadan is Chair of Contemporary Islamic Studies at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University. In 2004, he accepted a tenured position at the University of Notre Dame, but the U.S. government revoked his visa just days before he was to begin teaching there. “I am very happy that my nearly six-year exclusion from the United States is finally over,” said Ramadan. “I want to thank all the institutions and individuals who have supported me and worked to end the unconstitutional practice of ideological exclusion over the years. I look forward to my upcoming visit to the United States and the opportunity to once again engage in open, critical, and constructive dialogue with American scholars and intellectuals.”

Habib, who arrives this week, will participate in several university visits including a discussion of ideological exclusion on March 31 at Harvard Law School co-sponsored by the ACLU of Massachusetts. Ramadan, who will arrive in the beginning of April, will participate in several events including a panel discussion in New York on April 8 entitled “Secularism, Islam & Democracy: Muslims in Europe and the West,” co-sponsored by the ACLU, American Association of University Professors, PEN American Center and Slate.

During the previous administration, the U.S. government denied visas to dozens of foreign artists, scholars and writers all critics of foreign U.S. policy, without explanation or on vague national security grounds. This practice is known as ideological exclusion.