State Department Ends Unconstitutional Exclusion Of Blacklisted Scholars From U.S.
Professors Adam Habib And Tariq Ramadan Likely To Be Readmitted To United States, Says ACLU
WASHINGTON - In
a major victory for civil liberties, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
has signed orders that effectively end the exclusion of two prominent
scholars who were barred from the United States by the Bush
administration. The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the
denial of visas to Professors Adam Habib of the University of
Johannesburg and Tariq Ramadan of St. Antony's College, Oxford
University, in separate lawsuits filed on behalf of American
organizations that had invited the scholars to speak to audiences
inside the United States.
"The orders ending the exclusion of
Adam Habib and Tariq Ramadan are long overdue and tremendously
important," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security
Project. "For several years, the United States government was more
interested in stigmatizing and silencing its foreign critics than in
engaging them. The decision to end the exclusion of Professors Habib
and Ramadan is a welcome sign that the Obama administration is
committed to facilitating, rather than obstructing, the exchange of
ideas across international borders."
During the Bush administration, the
U.S. government denied visas to dozens of foreign artists, scholars and
writers – all critics of U.S. policy overseas and many of whom are
Muslim – without explanation or on vague national security grounds. In
a speech in Cairo in June 2009, President Obama addressed the
relationship between the United States and Muslims around the world,
calling for "a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from
each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground." The
ACLU welcomed the State Department's orders as an important step toward
achieving that goal.
"Given the orders issued by
Secretary Clinton, we hope and expect that Professor Habib and
Professor Ramadan will soon be able to come to the United States to
meet and talk with American audiences," said Melissa Goodman, staff
attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. "The Obama
administration should now conduct a broader review of visas denied
under the Bush administration, reverse the exclusions of others who
were barred because of their political beliefs and retire the practice
of ideological exclusion for good."
The orders signed by Secretary
Clinton state that, in the future, Professors Habib and Ramadan will
not be denied visas on the same grounds that they were denied them in
2006 and 2007. To enter the United States, however, the scholars will
need to apply for visas – a process likely to take several weeks. The
ACLU expects that, given Secretary Clinton's orders, the visa
applications will be granted expeditiously.
Professor Adam Habib is a respected
political analyst and Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research, Innovation
and Advancement at the University of Johannesburg, as well as a Muslim
who has been a vocal critic of the war in Iraq and some U.S.
terrorism-related policies. The ACLU and the ACLU of Massachusetts
filed a lawsuit in 2007 challenging his exclusion on behalf of the
American Sociological Association, the American Association of
University Professors, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
and the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights.
"My family and I are thrilled by
Secretary Clinton's decision, and we are thankful to the many
organizations that put pressure on the Obama administration to stop
excluding people from the United States on the basis of their political
views," said Habib. "This is not only a personal victory but also a
victory for democracy around the world, and we hope this signals a move
by the administration to begin restoring the liberties and freedoms
that have been so badly eroded in recent times."
Professor Tariq Ramadan is Chair of
Contemporary Islamic Studies at St. Antony's College, Oxford
University. In 2004, he accepted a tenured position at the University
of Notre Dame, but the U.S. government revoked his visa just days
before he was to begin teaching there. The ACLU and the New York Civil
Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in 2006 challenging his exclusion on
behalf of the American Academy of Religion, the American Association of
University Professors and the PEN American Center.
"I am very pleased with the decision
to end my exclusion from the United States after almost six years,"
said Ramadan. "I want to thank all the institutions and individuals who
have supported me and worked to end unconstitutional ideological
exclusion over the years. I am very happy and hopeful that I will be
able to visit the United States very soon and to once again engage in
an open, critical and constructive dialogue with American scholars and
The ACLU will be in U.S. District
Court for the Southern District of New York this afternoon for a status
conference in Ramadan's case,.
Attorneys in that case are Jaffer, Goodman, Judy Rabinovitz and Lucas
Guttentag the national ACLU, Arthur Eisenberg of the NYCLU and New York
immigration lawyer Claudia Slovinsky. At the conference, the parties
will address the implications of Secretary Clinton's order for the
Attorneys in the Habib case, American Sociological Association v. Clinton, are Goodman, Jaffer and Rabinovitz of the national ACLU and Sarah Wunsch and John Reinstein of the ACLU of Massachusetts.
More information about both cases is available online at: www.aclu.org/exclusion
Academy of Religion v. Napolitano
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.