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Muslim Scheduled to Teach at Notre Dame Has Visa Revoked

August 25, 2004|From Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — 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 this fall at the University of Notre Dame.

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

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

Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security, said the work visa was revoked because of a section in federal law that applies to aliens who have used a "position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity."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," but would not elaborate.

"We absolutely don't agree with that," Notre Dame spokesman Matthew 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 that if he had any ties to Islamic militants, the visa would not have been granted.

Ramadan has taught at the Universities of Geneva and Fribourg, both in Switzerland, and has gained a following among European Muslims, in his attempts to show how Islamic values are compatible with those of secular European society.

But terrorism expert Yehudit Barsky of the American Jewish Committee charged that Ramadan had tried to bring legitimacy to Islamic militants.

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