U.S. Revokes Work Visa for Muslim Scholar



Acting at the request of the Department of Homeland
Security, the U.S. government has revoked the work visa of a Muslim scholar
who had been scheduled to teach at the University of Notre Dame this fall.

Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen who has been criticized for alleged links to
Islamic militants and for remarks branded anti-Semitic, was supposed to
begin teaching on Tuesday, the first day of the fall semester.

"This is unjustified," Ramadan said in a telephone interview with The
Associated Press. He charged the revocation was "coming from political
pressure."

Russ Knocke, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman, said the work
visa had been revoked because of a section in federal law applying to
aliens who have used a "position of prominence within any country to
endorse or espouse terrorist activity."

He said the revocation was based on "public safety or national security
interests" and would not elaborate.

"We absolutely don't agree with that," Notre Dame spokesman Matt Storin
said. "If we did, we would not have hired him."

Storin described Ramadan as a distinguished scholar and a voice for
moderation in the Muslim world.

Ramadan said he went through a rigorous two-month background check before
he was granted the work visa, adding if he had any ties to Islamic
militants, the visa would not have been granted.

Ramadan said he opposes all forms of violence.

"What I'm saying as a Muslim is that when I criticize a policy, for example
the Saudi policy or the Egyptian policy, I am not Islamophobic," he said.
"And when I am criticizing the policy of the state of Israel, of (Prime
Minister Ariel) Sharon, I'm not an anti-Semite. It's just a political
criticism."

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations,
said the revocation indicates an unwillingness of Americans to listen to
Muslims.

"It's really a slap in the face to Muslims who are trying to build bridges
between the Muslim world and the West," Hooper said..

 


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