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March 20, 2009
6:11 PM


Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666;

ACLU to Present Oral Arguments in Case of Prominent Muslim Scholar Barred From US

Groups Say Tariq Ramadan Was Denied Entry on the Basis of His Political Views

NEW YORK - March 20 - The American Civil Liberties Union will present arguments before a federal appeals court Tuesday in the case of a Swiss professor and leading scholar of the Muslim world who was denied entry to the United States based on his political views. Professor Tariq Ramadan was invited to teach at the University of Notre Dame in 2004 but the U.S. government revoked his visa, citing a statute that applies to those who have "endorsed or espoused" terrorism. After the ACLU and other organizations filed suit, the government abandoned its claim that Ramadan had endorsed terrorism, but it continues to exclude him because he made small donations to a Swiss charity that the government alleges has given money to Hamas. The ACLU will argue that the government's exclusion of Ramadan was motivated not by anything he did but by his vocal criticism of U.S. foreign policy.

"By denying visas to prominent foreign scholars and writers simply because they were critical of United States foreign policy, the Bush administration used immigration laws to skew and stifle political debate inside the U.S.," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project, who will argue the case for the plaintiffs. "While the government has an interest in excluding people who present a threat to the country, it doesn't have any legitimate interest in excluding foreign nationals simply because of their political views. The Bush administration was wrong to revive this Cold War practice, and the Obama administration should not defend it."

The appeal stems from a January 2006 lawsuit challenging Professor Ramadan's exclusion filed by the ACLU and the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the American Academy of Religion, the American Association of University Professors and the PEN American Center. A federal judge wrongly upheld the exclusion in December 2007.

Oral arguments in American Academy of Religion v. Napolitano, a challenge to the exclusion of Professor Tariq Ramadan from the U.S. on the basis of his political views.


Jaffer will argue the case before Judges Wilfred Feinberg, Jon O. Newman and Reena Raggi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Attorneys on the case are Jaffer, Melissa Goodman, Lucas Guttentag and Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU, Arthur Eisenberg of the NYCLU, and New York immigration lawyer Claudia Slovinsky. The lawsuit was originally brought against then-Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009
10:00 a.m. EDT


Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Courthouse
Ceremonial Courtroom, 9th Fl.
500 Pearl Street
New York, NY 10007

More information about the Ramadan case, the history of ideological exclusion, and the ACLU's separate lawsuit concerning the exclusion of South African scholar Adam Habib is available online at:


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.


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