Tariq Ramadan visits US. Part of a fresh start for West and Islam?
The US has lifted a 6-year-old ban on Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan entering the US. His visit may go a long way in advancing Obama’s goal of starting a new dialogue with the Muslim world.
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“We do not think that either one of them represents a threat to the United States,” said Philip Crowley, a spokesman for the State Department, at a January press briefing. “We want to have the opportunity potentially to have Islamic scholars come to the United States and have dialogue with other faith communities and people here in our country.”Skip to next paragraph
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The Obama administration’s decision marks a shift from the Bush stance on visiting professors and other intellectuals whose ideas are often at odds with American policy, says Melissa Goodman, a staff attorney at the ACLU who worked on both the Ramadan and Habib cases.
“It’s an incredibly important first step to restoring a robust and free exchange of international ideas across borders,” she says.
Between 2004 and 2008, the ACLU received “a steady stream” of complaints about what it calls the “ideological exclusion” of academics, writers, and journalists. Now, Ms. Goodman says, several people once barred from the US are coming for the first time in years.
Ramadan said in a statement that his reentry “brings to an end a dark period in American politics that saw security considerations invoked to block critical debate through a policy of exclusion and baseless allegation.”
But many also say that Ramadan, whose grandfather founded the Muslim Brotherhood, should remain locked out of the country.
While many hail Ramadan as a preeminent Muslim thinker encouraging greater engagement between Islam and the West, others say that he is a radical whose extremist view of Islam is often masked by academic-speak.
"Tariq Ramadan's entry into America needs to be met with open dialogue from the Muslim Community, non-Muslim organizations, and the media on the real threat of Political Islam," said M. Zuhdi Jasser, AIFD president, in a statement. "It is incumbent on all Americans, especially American Muslims, to engage Ramadan at any opportunity to demonstrate that the US Constitution trumps the construct of the Islamic State."