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U.S. Government Appears to End Exclusion of Professor Tariq Ramadan

January 21, 2010

Contact: Susan Snider

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recently issued orders that appear to end the exclusion from the United States of Professor Tariq Ramadan, on whose behalf the AAR has long been involved in a lawsuit.

The AAR joined in the ACLU-filed lawsuit against the U.S. government because of its denial of visas to Ramadan, a prominent scholar of Islam. AAR involvement arose from the government preventing his attendance at the 2004 AAR Annual Meeting in San Antonio, where he was to make a plenary address. Not until 2009 was Ramadan finally able to attend an AAR Annual Meeting—but only because the meeting took place outside the U.S.

As a result of the government’s refusal to allow Prof. Ramadan to enter the U.S., the AAR was one of three organizations who several years ago began a lawsuit on Ramadan’s behalf, and in his statement released today Ramadan expressed his appreciation:

I am very pleased with the decision to end my exclusion from the United States after almost six years . . . . I want to thank all the institutions and individuals who have supported me and worked to end unconstitutional ideological exclusion over the years. I am very happy and hopeful that I will be able to visit the United States very soon and to once again engage in an open, critical and constructive dialogue with American scholars and intellectuals.

Although Professor Ramadan must reapply for a visa, approval seems highly likely. A concern remains, however, that although Secretary of State Clinton’s orders address the particular situations of Ramadan and another scholar, they do not seem to address the larger concern that other scholars may be denied entry into the U.S. for ideological reasons. Nonetheless, the recent news about Prof. Ramadan’s case seems a significant step forward.