Six years after being barred from coming to the U.S. to teach at the University of Notre Dame, the Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan spoke Saturday in suburban Oakbrook Terrace, attributing his presence to new "channels for dialogue" between the U.S. and Islamic scholars and telling American Muslims to treat the U.S. as their home.
The Swiss academic was denied a visa to the U.S. in 2004 by the Bush administration, which accused him of supporting terrorist causes. But in January the State Department reversed that decision, saying he did not pose a threat to the U.S.
"It is quite clear (Obama administration officials) don't want to follow in the footsteps of the Bush administration, especially when it comes to freedom of expression and scholars coming," Ramadan said. "They want to open new channels for dialogue."
Now a professor at Oxford University, Ramadan spoke to the Tribune on Saturday in Chicago before giving the keynote address in Oakbrook Terrace at an annual fundraising dinner for the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. It was part of a six-day speaking tour in the U.S., his first since being allowed in.
Ramadan, who has written extensively about Western Muslims, told the largely Muslim audience at the CAIR-Chicago event to contribute to American society and uphold Americans' right to criticize their own government. He said American Muslims should change society through promoting ethics and justice — not by proselytizing and converting the masses, a controversial idea for some Muslims. (More)