The United States should stand for freedom of speech and inquiry, but in a case that recalls the denial to Bertrand Russell of the right to teach at City University of New York in 1940, Swiss Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan, a leading European Muslim intellectual, has been denied a visa, preventing him from taking up teaching duties at Notre Dame. -- Arbitrary exclusions like Tariq Ramadan's and the ridiculous case of Cat Stevens's interception and deportation on Tuesday are further exacerbating misundertanding and ill will, and they prevent the very sort of dialogue of which the world is in desperate need. -- The organization US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is calling for a week of action in defense of academic freedom, beginning today, Sept. 24, and extending through Friday, Oct. 1.[1] -- A link to a petition for signing may be found below; the text of the statement follows.[2] -- Thanks to Rachid Benkhalti for sending this....

1.

[From US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation]

NATIONAL WEEK OF ACTION IN DEFENSE OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

September 24-October 1, 2004

The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation has endorsed a call to action by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) for a week of action (September 24-October 1) to call for the reinstatement of Professor Tariq Ramadan's visa to enter the United States.

In February 2004, the renowned Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan was appointed Henry B. Luce Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peace-building at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame (South Bend, Indiana, USA). A visa of residence and work (H1) was originally granted to him on May 5, 2004. On August 2, nine days before Dr. Ramadan was scheduled to start teaching, the American Embassy in Switzerland informed Ramadan that the US Homeland Security Department had decided to revoke this visa. No explanation was given.

The US Campaign remains concerned about attempts to limit academic freedom and debate in the United States. These attempts to stifle the legitimate exchange of views impacts negatively on our ability to propose constructive alternatives to US foreign policy in general and toward Israel and Palestine in particular. For more details about the US Campaign's efforts to protect academic freedom, see: http://www.endtheoccupation.org/article.php?id=316

The US Campaign has signed a petition, which will be delivered by the MSA to the Department of Homeland Security and Members of Congress, calling on the government to overturn its decision to revoke Prof. Ramadan's visa.

The US Campaign encourages member organizations and individuals to sign the petition as well, which can be found at: http://www.petitiononline.com/MSANatl/petition.html

For more background information and suggested actions, please see the website of the Muslim Student Association at: http://www.msanational.org

In solidarity,

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation Steering Committee

2.

[Text of the petition]

To: Department of Homeland Security, Department of State & Members of Congress

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

In February 2004, the renowned Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan was appointed Henry B. Luce Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. After receiving a visa of residence and work (H1) on May 5, 2004, Professor Ramadanís visa was revoked in July, the month he was to start his tenure. Until now, the US Department of Homeland Security has provided no explanation for the revocation of his visa.

The arbitrary decision to revoke Professor Ramadan's visa sets a dangerous precedent on the restriction of academic freedom and tolerance by government authorities, which threatens to rollback the greatest achievements that hallmark our nationís history. We stand by the principles of the Constitution and denounce any measures that infringe upon the rights of academics or students to exercise their constitutional freedoms. During times in which academia has been dangerously politicized, we maintain the right of institutions of higher learning to fulfill their responsibility as guardians of academic freedom, intellectual tolerance and diversity of thought.

In making this decision, the US administration has not only targeted the wrong individual in the name of its 'war against terrorism,í but it has also narrowed the discourse on the new challenges facing Islam and the West that is so vital to enhancing our national security and national interests. This action has also silenced the voice of a scholar who has a long and proud record of denouncing extremism, narrow literalism and anti-Semitism within Muslim communities and societies. Furthermore, this decision has reinforced American Muslimsí concerns for the use of religious profiling and the dominance of an exclusive ideology at high levels of government.

We, the undersigned, condemn the decision to revoke the visa of Professor Tariq Ramadan as a grave breach of academic freedom. We demand that his visa be reinstated and that Professor Ramadan be given the opportunity to fulfill his academic duties and contribute to the intellectual discourse of our democracy.