The Tariq Ramadan visa case
in Islamic charities and Islamic humanism in troubled times
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This chapter describes the case of Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss-born academic and commentator on Islamic matters, who was refused a non-immigrant visa in 2005 to enter the USA in order to accept a professorship in peace studies. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took up his case. Though it is probable that the real reason for his exclusion was opposition to Ramadan’s political opinions, the reason given was that between 1998 and July 2002 he had made donations totalling the equivalent of US$940 to a charity registered in Switzerland (the Association de Secours aux Palestiniens). In August 2003 this charity was designated by the USA as a terrorist fundraising entity, on account of its alleged links to Hamas-linked Palestinian charities (including zakat committees). Eventually, after two court hearings, the State Department decided in January 2010, in a document signed by Secretary Clinton, to lift the ban against Ramadan’s entering the USA. This Chapter recounts the progress of the case, and reproduces a letter sent by Benthall to Secretary Clinton in October 2009 in support of the ACLU’s representation of Ramadan.


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