Although it has made a break with many of George Bush’s controversial, self-declared war on terror policies and has promised to reach out to Muslims, the Obama administration has decided to back a Bush decision to deny one of Europe’s leading Muslim intellectuals entry.
“Consular decisions are not subject to litigation,” Assistant US Attorney David Jones told the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
He asked the court to uphold a decision to bar Tariq Ramadan, an Oxford University professor, from entering the country.
Jones argued that if the court questioned a consular officer’s decision to bar Ramadan, this would leave the administration in a “quagmire” with others seeking such reversals.
When one of the judges asked how high the review of Ramadan’s case has gone within the Obama administration, Jones said it was “upwards in the State Department.”
Ramadan was invited to teach at the University of Notre Dame in 2004 but the Bush government revoked his visa, citing a statute that applies to those who have “endorsed or espoused” terrorism.
In 2006, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the American Academy of Religion, the American Association of University Professors and PEN American Center challenging the decision.
The administration then abandoned its claim Ramadan had endorsed terrorism, linking the ban to $1,336 he donated between 1998 and 2002 to a Swiss charity the US blacklisted in 2003.
A Swiss citizen of Egyptian origin, Ramadan is one of Europe’s leading Muslim thinkers and has often condemned terrorism and extremism.