ACLU Presenting Oral Arguments Today in Case of Prominent Muslim Scholar Barred From US

For Immediate Release


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

ACLU Presenting Oral Arguments Today in Case of Prominent Muslim Scholar Barred From US

Tariq Ramadan Among Many Writers and Scholars Denied Entry on Basis of Political Views

American Civil Liberties Union is in a federal appeals court today to
present arguments 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. The ACLU is arguing that the government's
exclusion of Professor Tariq Ramadan is illegal and 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

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. In January 2006, the ACLU and the New York Civil
Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging Professor Ramadan's
exclusion from the U.S. on behalf of the American Academy of Religion,
the American Association of University Professors and the PEN American
Center. After the ACLU 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.

"Barring people from the United
States on the basis of their political views is censorship and this
practice sends the message that the United States is more interested in
silencing its foreign critics than engaging them in thoughtful debate,"
said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security

Jaffer is arguing the case, now called Academy of Religion v. Napolitano,
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, 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.

More information about the Ramadan
case 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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