Swiss Muslim scholar unwelcome in US

According to Abu Aardvark, Tariq Ramadan – a francophone Swiss Muslim who is usually cited as a particularly modernist and moderate European Muslim scholar – has been denied a visa to enter the US to take up a teaching posiiton at Notre Dame University. As I understand it, the visa had earlier been issued, but has now been revoked under the portions of the Immigration and Nationality Act that were modified by the PATRIOT Act two years ago.

Further Associated Press coverage at the Boston Globe – and probably other newspapers – as well as at Swissinfo.

There is some evidence of diplomatic fallout. According to Swissinfo, the Swiss foreign minister has intervened to get an explanation. The US Department of Homeland Security claims that Ramadan’s visa was revoked because of a section of US law affecting people who use a “position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity” as well as “public safety or national security interests.”

This certainly requires an explanation. Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan Al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the US used to be a place where guilt was not held to automatically pass from father to son.

Ramadan had been offered a temporary position as a guest lecturer at the Kroc Institute for Peace Studies at Notre Dame. For the conspiracy junkies out there, yes, that’s Kroc as in Joan Kroc, the recently deceased McDonald’s hambuger widow. Your purchase of a Big Mac goes to support the man Daniel Pipes calls a “militant Islamic figure”. Personally, I think nothing speaks higher for a man’s character than having enemies like Pipes. It’s enough to make me want to go right out and snarf a Quarter Pounder (or a Royal Cheese, as it’s known in the metric system). But I digress.

There are also some promonent French intellectuals who claim that Ramadan is anti-Semetic, despite his lengthy claims to the contrary and regular condemnations of anti-Semetic violence. These consist largely of a small group of French Jewish writers who he accused in this article of taking “poltical positions [that] are based on communitarian logic, as Jews, or as nationalists, or as defenders of Israel”. After 9/11, there were some published accusations that Ramadan has connections to Al Qaeda, but in the current political climate, few Muslim figures of any significance can avoid such an accusation. No evidence to support such charges has been brought forward to date.

All of this strikes me as a very low standard for threats to American security, or for determining who is a supporter of terrorism. Muslim, Wake Up! has a collection of links to interviews with Ramadan if you prefer to judge for yourself.

Whether one agrees with Ramadan or not, it is difficult to imagine an Islamic intellectual figure who is likely to be more acceptable as the other side in an American dialogue with Islam. Thus, the refusal to allow him to enter the US suggests that someone in Homeland Security agrees with the Daniel Pipes standard: Any Muslim who fails to condemn Islam, from its founding to the present and in all its manifestations, must be a fanatic and a threat to the West.

Europe has many Muslim citizens, present at all levels of society. It would be a mistake to allow the US to segregate European intellectuals into the threatening and non-threatening on such a feeble basis – especially at a time when it is trying hard not to be painted as the enemy of all Islam. This is an opportunity for Europeans and Americans to show that at the very least they are capable of exercising better judgement than the Bush administration.

34 thoughts on “Swiss Muslim scholar unwelcome in US

  1. There are also some promonent French intellectuals who claim that Ramadan is anti-Semetic [...] consist[ing] largely of a small group of French Jewish writers who he accused in this article of taking ?poltical positions [that] are based on communitarian logic, as Jews, or as nationalists, or as defenders of Israel?.

    There’s a distinction, which is often missed, between being an anti-Semite and making a single anti-Semitic statement. I think that Ramadan’s accusation was anti-Semitic (for reasons that we won’t rehash here) but that he is not an anti-Semite, only a generally reasonable person who said one stupid thing.

  2. Fair enough. I read Ramadan a little differently. I think he’s saying something along the lines of “You Jews used to be on the underdog’s side! Now, you’re all Israel this, and Israel that, and ‘we have the right to defend ourselves no matter how bad the things we do are.’ What happened?” To generalise Jews in that way is anti-Semetic, but not quite unarguably so. But, I have to confess to having had not totally dissimilar thoughts when faced with a Jewish friend – a roomate actually – who firmly believed in tolerance, diversity and justice everywhere except in the Middle East. I can see how frustration could lead to such a statement without it being grounds to condemn the speaker.

    Of course, the problem is in making that generalisation in the first place, and worse still making it in the public media. Ramadan usually does better. But, if I were a public Muslim intellectual in Europe, I have to admit I’d probably reach a limit in how many times I would have to condemn some act or statement from another Muslim before I’d have to start asking Jews to condemn Sharon or Daniel Pipes. No one – well, not many people – ask me to condemn every stupid act undertaken by leftists, Canadians, expats, linguists or any other group I acknowledge some membership in. It’s as unfair of him to expect it of Jews as it is for others to expect it of him for Muslims, and it’s wrong for him to imply that it is a reasonable demand.

  3. Ah, but this is the type of individual that the new DHS regulations are supposed to ensnare.

    Deporting a world-renowned Finish theologian who was tenured at a California Theological Seminary is the price we pay in order to keep out the Muslim riffraffs, and their grandchildren.

  4. I don’t know a damn thing about this particular case, but I’m struck by this: “After 9/11, there were some published accusations that Ramadan has connections to Al Qaeda, but in the current political climate, few Muslim figures of any significance can avoid such an accusation. No evidence to support such charges has been brought forward to date.”

    I think it is almost certainly true that very few Muslim figures of any significance can avoid such an accusation. Isn’t that the crux of the whole problem though? Connections to Al Qaeda are so ridiculously common in the high-profile Muslim community that almost no one is more than one node removed from those who support Al Qaeda. Isn’t that a pretty serious problem that the Muslim community needs to deal with?

    I am not advocating guilt by association. If Tariq Ramadan is a moderate scholar, he ought to be supported. But doesn’t this highlight a serious problem in the Muslim intellectual community?

  5. Bush has personnal ties to Ossama Ben Laden…

    By the way mr. Holsclaw, I accuse you to have connections to Al Qaeda. Isn’t that a pretty serious problem for Bush lovers?
    I am not advocating guilt by association. If Sebastian Holsclaw is a moderate blogger, he ought to be supported. But doesn?t this highlight a serious problem in the Republican intellectual community?
    DSW

  6. “This is an opportunity for Europeans and Americans to show that at the very least they are capable of exercising better judgement than the Bush administration.”

    Not exactly setting a high standard there, eh? Although I do wonder how Americans can demonstrate same, unless someone wants to file a court case claiming (probably accurately) that the statute is unconstitutional in setting a preference against interfaith communities.

  7. But, if I were a public Muslim intellectual in Europe, I have to admit I’d probably reach a limit in how many times I would have to condemn some act or statement from another Muslim before I’d have to start asking Jews to condemn Sharon or Daniel Pipes.

    I don’t think it’s fair to ask this of anyone, whether Jewish, Muslim or Other; I don’t believe in that sort of collective responsibility, and I think it’s poisonous to demand that individuals condemn the acts of co-religionists with whom they have no connection. Given that Ramadan has been the victim of this type of McCarthyism, it seems especially egregious for him to indulge in it himself – in a way, he’s lending credibility to the parallel attacks against him.

    In any event, though, I’m not one of those who believes that a single misstatement should condemn a person for life, especially when it’s contrary to the weight of the other evidence. Most of us have said something stupid at one time or another, myself certainly not excepted, and I don’t think it’s fair to rush to judgment on the basis of Ramadan’s remark. I suspect we agree on this, though.

  8. This is an opportunity for Europeans and Americans to show that at the very least they are capable of exercising better judgement than the Bush administration.

    Particularly those who missed their chance with the Balladur administration.

  9. “By the way mr. Holsclaw, I accuse you to have connections to Al Qaeda. Isn?t that a pretty serious problem for Bush lovers?
    I am not advocating guilt by association. If Sebastian Holsclaw is a moderate blogger, he ought to be supported. But doesn?t this highlight a serious problem in the Republican intellectual community?”

    Very few people would ever accuse me of being a moderate.

    I won’t try to hijack the discussion thread by reiterating my point about the Muslim community, but I think you missed it.

  10. To address your point, Sebastian.
    Think of the Italian-American community and how the Mafia is portrayed in American movies and TV. Same thing, right ?

    Do you think that there might be something fundamentally wrong with the Italian-American community that they haven’t done more to deal with the Mafia problem ?

  11. “Think of the Italian-American community and how the Mafia is portrayed in American movies and TV. Same thing, right?”

    No, I don’t think so. You are talking about popular portrayal. When Scott said: “After 9/11, there were some published accusations that Ramadan has connections to Al Qaeda, but in the current political climate, few Muslim figures of any significance can avoid such an accusation.” I don’t believe he is talking about portrayal, he seems to be talking about actual connections–innocent connections in some cases, but connections nonetheless.

    I don’t believe you could say with a straight face that almost any Italian-American figure of any significance could be easily accused of having connections with the Mafia. The Mafia is/was a horrible problem in the Italian-American community, but it was never that pervasive.

    Islamist connections in general and specific Al Qaeda connections unfortunately appear to be very common in European Muslim intellectual circles. Surely that is something worthy of comment. If it is true that the connections are so prevalent as to be nearly unavoidable even by the most innocent of figures (which for all I know Ramadan is), isn’t that a problem? Might that say something just a bit troubling about the prevalance of Islamist sentiment? Might that be a danger worthy of paying attention to?

  12. Sebastian, Ramadan is from a notable political family in Egypt. I doubt that the number of degrees of separation between him and Osama bin Laden is much larger than George Bush’s. However, there was a more substantial alligation – that he had personally met with a known terrorist after he had been identified as such. As far as I know, this allegation remains unsupported.

  13. Sebastian,
    Accusations are easy to fling about, allegations of accusations easier still.

    Islamist connections in general and specific Al Qaeda connections unfortunately appear to be very common in European Muslim intellectual circles. Surely that is something worthy of comment.

    Are Tariq Ramadan’s alleged connections to Bin Laden any more tangible than George W. Bush’s connections to Bin Laden ?

  14. Arghh, I’m not flinging around accusations of any sort, no matter how easy or difficult it may be.

    Scott suggested that practically anyone in Muslim intellectual circles could be easily ‘connected’ in the sense of ‘contacts’ to Al Qaeda. That suggests that either there are a HUGE number of Al Qaeda members, or that their contacts are very wide ranging.

    If you want you may disagree with that. If it is true, it is disturbing. It is clear that I have accidentaly hijacked this thread by trying to talk about the disturbing implications of that. So enough on that, I’ll write about it on my blog instead of imposing on Scott’s.

    I know absolutely nothing about Ramadan himself. I am not slinging accusations against him. I am not defending him. I don’t know his work. I don’t find him scary because he is Muslim. I don’t know anything about him that I haven’t read on this blog. If he doesn’t have contacts with Al Qaeda I’m thrilled. If he does I’m sad that anyone does. If he has contacts but is innocent of supporting them I’m also thrilled.

    I was interested in the somewhat scary implications that a possible defense would be along the lines of ‘of course he has Al-Qaeda contacts, practically all important Muslims do’. That would indicate a much broader support level for Al Qaeda than we typically talk about.

    If Al Qaeda contacts are so ubiquitous that no prominent Muslim could avoid them, that is something worth talking about.

  15. …the Daniel Pipes standard: Any Muslim who fails to condemn Islam, from its founding to the present and in all its manifestations, must be a fanatic and a threat to the West.

    Obviously one cannot be a Muslim and condemn Islam in all its manifestations. Therefore every Muslim would be a fanatic and a threat to the West.

    That’s a heavy assertion to put into anyone’s mouth; it’s in the same league as advocating genocide. On what basis do you ascribe this view to Mr. Pipes?

  16. There were something like ten thousand arabs that fought in Afganistan so that is a hugh number even if it is miniscule on the total population

  17. “Scott suggested that practically anyone in Muslim intellectual circles could be easily ‘connected’ in the sense of ‘contacts’ to Al Qaeda. That suggests that either there are a HUGE number of Al Qaeda members, or that their contacts are very wide ranging.”

    No, Sebastian, he said that practically anyone in those circles could be _accused_ of having such connections. Which is a different thing altogether. Its interesting that you missed that.

    (“After 9/11, there were some published accusations that Ramadan has connections to Al Qaeda, but in the current political climate, few Muslim figures of any significance can avoid such an accusation.”)

  18. So, according to Mr Scot Martens, if Europe sees Mr Ramadan as a “moderate”, the US should just acquiesce and give him a great big bear hug.

    Of course Europes definition of “islamic intellectual” and “moderate” allows for individuals who have called for the destruction of Israel and “death to america”.

    Personally, if the US doesn’t want him, they don’t have to take him. That’s their perogative. If I was a citizen, I’d prefer to have my nation err on the side of caution.

    And it has not been lost on me, nor you, that 16 of the 911 hijackers came through Europe, where I bet Mark probably thought they were nice “moderates” too, after all, they attended university and the mosque, so how bad can they be.

    Answer: real bad.

    Tariq should clean up his act, his deeds and words are well known, and everyone is allowed their own interpretation of both. Mark thinks they are dandy, I think they are reprehensible and callous. Aparently the US does to.

    Regards.

  19. “No, Sebastian, he said that practically anyone in those circles could be _accused_ of having such connections. Which is a different thing altogether. Its interesting that you missed that. ”

    No. You miss the obvious implication by being hyper-literal. In a strict sense, anyone at anytime can be accused of anything. You could accuse me of being a 32-eyed alien from planet Pblibarsonax.

    But you could plausibly accuse me of being associated with Republicans–because they travel in my circles. And you could make an accusation that I associate with racists which would not seem ridiculous on its face because lots of racists can be found everywhere all over the world.

    “After 9/11, there were some published accusations that Ramadan has connections to Al Qaeda, but in the current political climate, few Muslim figures of any significance can avoid such an accusation.”

    There are two normal ways of interpreting that phrase. Either they cannot avoid it because all Muslims get accused for racist reasons, or because the network of connections is deep enough that it touches upon many innocent Muslims. Since the passage in question immediately follows a discussion of realistic expectations about the beliefs of Muslim scholars, I took it to have the second meaning.

    It is possible that Scott meant it in the “All Muslims get accused for racist reasons” meaning. But from the closing of his article and from lines like “This certainly requires an explanation. Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan Al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the US used to be a place where guilt was not held to automatically pass from father to son.” it appeared to me that he was defending Ramadan on the basis of being exposed to contacts without really being a part of an Islamist strain.

  20. Sebastian,
    Your argument boils down to where there’s smoke there’s a fire.

    What you fail to notice is that you are not seeing smoke, you are instead relying on other’s reports of smoke. Non-corroborated reports of smoke from parties who are hardly disinterested.

    “After 9/11, there were some published accusations that Ramadan has connections to Al Qaeda, but in the current political climate, few Muslim figures of any significance can avoid such an accusation. No evidence to support such charges has been brought forward to date.”

  21. Traveller,

    The US doesn’t think anything. It’s a country.

    Some of the media reports have been getting two different issues confused. One is that Homeland Security decided to revoke Ramadan’s visa, which is arguably a deplorable call. The other is that they did it after he and his family had already made all the arrangements, which is indisputably a crying shame. I hope he can get a new visa, like the State Department said.

    A third issue is facile incorporation of incidents like this one into a self-affirmating narrative about “Bush’s America”. Here’s a little detective mystery angle. I wasn’t able to locate a single media mention, past or present, to confirm internet reports that Ramadan was barred from entering France from 1993 to 1995 based on advice of Egyptian Mukhabarat. I thought that may be he’s being confused with his brother, who was also barred (still is?), but the timing seems to be different. I was hoping to find something to clarify this in the front-page story Le Monde devoted to the incident the other day, but no such luck.

  22. “Your argument boils down to where there’s smoke there’s a fire.”

    No it does not. I am not arguing that Ramadan is guiltly just because people say he is. I’m not arguing that accusing him means the accusation is correct. In fact I’m not arguing that he is guilty of anything at all.

    If you are complaining about the fact I have to rely on public information, welcome to the wonderful world of reading newspapers. Of course I don’t know Ramadan personally, and probably no one on this blog does. That fact neither adds to nor subtracts from the discussion, especially since I’m not attacking or defending him personally. Which is why I feel like I’m hijacking the thread by trying to talk about what I’m sure Scott thought of as a sidenote. The only reason I’m continuing at all is to correct the perception that I’m attacking Ramadan. I’m not. Not at all. I’m not assuming there is a fire, because I’m not even talking about the smoke. I’m talking about the oddity of the defense which implies that no prominent Muslim can avoid the appearance of having Al Qaeda or other terrorist contacts.

  23. One interjection: People are talking about al-Qaeda as if it’s a unitary entity, as if one is either a member or not a member. This view of the organization doesn’t seem to conform to the reality of a very porous network of organizations.

    Which organizations belong and which do not? I’d imagine it could be difficult to decide.

  24. Sebastian,
    I think you missed that I actually got your point about the “Muslim Community”, rather than about Ramadan and I’m disagreeing with it. Does what you’re saying about Ramadan also apply to the “Muslim community” ?

    I am not arguing that [The Muslim Community] is guiltly just because people say [it] is. I’m not arguing that accusing [it] means the accusation is correct. In fact I’m not arguing that [it] is guilty of anything at all.

    Consider that you started with a baseless allegation that:
    Connections to Al Qaeda are so ridiculously common in the high-profile Muslim community that almost no one is more than one node removed from those who support Al Qaeda. Isn’t that a pretty serious problem that the Muslim community needs to deal with?

  25. Argh. Ok so are you saying that terrorist organizations do not have much contact with the rest of the high-profile community? Ok great. But then that doesn’t offer much for Ramadan. We can’t have it both ways though.

  26. I’m not saying anything about terrorist links to Ramadan or your nebulous high-profile Muslim community, except you haven’t offered any proof that there are such of either while faulting the “Muslim Community” for not addressing this quite possibly non-existent “problem”.

  27. The Muslim community–in France specifically, certainly not in Europe, the United States, or the West broadly–doesn’t not fit the definitions of a community. In sociological terms, it’s probably better described as an aggregate, i.e. a more-or-less random grouping of people who happen to share a single characteristic. In this case, religion is the bond (though a fairly weak bond, including practically all of the major sects of Islam and numerous different ethnicities, many different political orientations, et cetera).

  28. if the US doesn’t want him, they don’t have to take him. That’s their perogative.

    “If one doesn’t learn from history, one is forced to repeat it.”

    How many times have countries differentiated between individuals on the basis of race, religion, family or some other totally irrelevant factor instead of treating all individuals equally and on their own merits? Many countries still do. And, it is almost always to the detriment of the country doing the differentiating and to the benefit of those that don’t.

    I agree that the country that gave Einstein and thousands of others a home now has the perogative to discriminate against individuals on the basis of their culture rather than their actions. But, it might not be in the long-term interest of the country.

    Michael D
    (as I notice we now have two different Michaels on the blog)

  29. My original intent was the contrary of Sebastian’s surmise: Almost every high profile Muslim seems to have been accused by somebody of a connection to terrorists, not that practically every high profile Muslim actually has such a connection. However, I haven’t I haven’t said anything clear about this so far in order to see if the argument would go anywhere, because it’s an interesting prospect. One could interpret it as “Al Qaeda has infiltrated Muslim communities everywhere” or as “Terrorist organisations can’t be that centralised or well organised if practically every high profile Muslim knows one.”

    No real basis for either conclusion has been put forward.

    In Ramadan’s case specifically, I was refering to accusations by a private investigator after 9/11 that some European intelligence services were investigating Ramadan, claiming that he had met with a know terrorist figure in 1991. Ramadan denies this, no European intelligence service has commented, and in all this time no further witnesses or claims have come forward.

    Traveller, Americans didn’t make this decision. The Department of Homeland Security did. Americans have traditionally understood themselves to have the right to hear whoever they want to hear speak, and to individually invite other people to America to say what they want, barring only actual threats to public security or probable immigration law violations. I can not see how Ramadan fits either category.

    I see that you seem to wish for the US to err on the side of caution and just ban all Muslim from entering the US regardless of probable cause or actual claims or status. If you would prefer to live in a country where Muslims have to register their religion and are restricted in their civil liberties in the name of public security, there is a place for you. Of course, it has a lot more terrorism than the US, so one has to ask how much good such measures really do.

  30. Any Muslim who fails to condemn Islam, from its founding to the present and in all its manifestations, must be a fanatic and a threat to the West.

    This is a standard that is of course completely hypocritical. It is true that Muslims have a tendency to be apologetic about some Muslim atrocities. This is a tendency that needs to be addressed. But it is nearly universal. How many Christians condemn their own religion for the burning of the Library of Alexandria and the mutilation and murder of Hypatia?

    Leftists often apologize for communism. Stalin wasn’t a true communist, Lenin and Trotsky were great men, Ho Chi Min was a great democrat, Cuba is the freest country in the world, and other BS. By the same token, rightists often apologize for fascism – Pinochet was better than Allende, Hitler was a leftist, Synghman Rhee was a great leader, and so on. For an example of the latter, just read Sebastian Holsclaw’s blog, and search for “Pinochet” to find the post where he basically said “fascism was bad, but it was better than communism.”

    Or, look at American patriotism. How many Americans know of all the people CIA-supported regimes in Latin America killed? How many Americans know and condemn all the evil that the colonists did in the War of Independence, the true interests of the Founding Fathers, and so on? The few who do are people like Howard Zinn who then refuse to acknowledge the good things the USA’s done and the evils that radical leftist regimes have done.

    In a world where almost everyone is either a fanatic or, much more commonly, an apologetic for some fanatics, it’s hypocritical to view just one brand of apologists as pro-terrorism. If you want to restrict Muslim intellectuals from entering the USA on the grounds that they don’t condemn terrorism sufficiently, then apply the same standard to Christians, Hindus, leftists, and rightists. If the whole package includes deportation then the USA will have to deport almost all of its people and every single national politician.

    By the way, Traveller, you’re being a bit hysterical with your better-safe-than-sorry argument. In the year with the highest number of civilian deaths from terrorism in the USA, 2001, 3,000 people were killed, vs. 100,000 from hospital-related infections, 11,000 from gun violence, god knows how many from traffic accidents… Terrorism is a problem that should be solved, but it doesn’t justify getting hysterical about it. I’d rather the government spend its resources on solving the problem of world hunger, which kills 3,000 people every 3 hours, and is also related to two of the causes of terrorism (namely, poverty and dependence on extremist welfare organizations).

  31. Can anyone prove there is a direct link between poverty and terrorism? No, there isn’t. Otherwise we’d be bombed daily by ethiopians.

    The 911 terrorists were fanatical muslims, and not one of them was “poor” by your definition. Most were actually fairly well educated. These muslim terrorists are “extremists”, and have an archane ideology that does not fit in a modern society. They lash out, because they do not know how to adapt to living with “the sons of apes and dogs”.

    As far as the supposed “cia-supported” regimes, well, some did turn out to be bad apples, but is the cia really to be held to blame? If so, then the numbers of dead would number into the tens of thousands.

    Meanwhile, back in Euroland and parts east, communist governments with leaders like Mao, Stalin, Castro, Pol Pot, and Jung have murdered more than 100 million people. And people like you lefty-libs just dismiss their crimes with a shrug.

    I can’t. I won’t. Never forget that the reason most of you can blather away like idiots today is that our friends across the pond, where I happen to be living today, never forgot about us.

    I am eternally grateful, as you should be. If the yanks make mistakes, we should counsel them rather than condemn them.

    I am looking forward to a Kerry presidency. I believe it is really possible. The reason I like Kerry is because his foreign policy *will be about the same*, just presented differently.

    Regards.

  32. Whether one agrees with Ramadan or not, it is difficult to imagine an Islamic intellectual figure who is likely to be more acceptable as the other side in an American dialogue with Islam.

    a defensible point of view, but i think it is easy to dispute. from what i have heard/read of ramadan he occupies a place similar to a conservative christians, in other words, probably not a person who should be lumped with islamists, but not someone that who is as acceptable as one can get if you are a left-liberal secularist.

    see lee smith in the american prospect:

    That Ramadan believes Islam will replace Judaism and Christianity may come as a surprise to those who thought he was just saying Islam is compatible with liberal values (it will certainly surprise the fathers at Notre Dame). Rather, Ramadan is a cold-blooded Islamist who believes that Islam is the cure for the malaise wrought by liberal values. His revision of the jihadist paradigm — peaceful but total — is brilliant in its way, and he may well turn out to be a major Islamist intellectual, far surpassing even his grandfather’s influence. His cry of death to the West is a quieter and gentler jihad, but it’s still jihad. There’s no reason for Western liberals to try to understand that point of view.

    do a little “find” & “replace” with all the abrahamic religions and you can find the same tensions with pluralism when they are interpreted in a certain way. i say interpreted because a small fringe of muslim scholars is more “radical” in their acceptance of modernity and religious pluralism than ramadan.

    ramadan isn’t a radical or extremist, but assuming he’s a paragon of distestablishmentarianism is overdoing it.

  33. First of all, whether Ramadan is a peaceful but ‘cold-blooded’ jihadist (which sounds a little over-heated to me) or just someone who takes his religion seriously but not literalistically, there is no excuse for revoking his visa. It is pure stupidity on the part of the US gov. What in the world are we supposed to be afraid of? That he’s going to ‘seduce’ people? That he’s a ‘spy’? Please.

    do a little ?find? & ?replace? with all the abrahamic religions and you can find the same tensions with pluralism when they are interpreted in a certain way.

    Yes, indeed. In other words, the problem is monotheistic religions themselves – ALL of them (especially Christianity and Islam). Sorry if that’s offensive to some (FWIW, I was raised a Protestant Christian), but I don’t see how you can reduce the problem further than that. I know Mr Ramadan doesn’t like the idea of ‘tolerance’, implying as it does indifference; but that’s what I think is called for for all monotheisms, no more and no less. I don’t mean to imply that great ethical traditions shouldn’t be respected, even admired, but only as such. I don’t trust these religions qua religions. They will always eventually cause problems, because they are each the One True.

    If we can’t have Mr Ramadan in the country, we should also expel Pat Robertson and his ilk, along with some members of AIPAC. Otherwise: by all means, tolerate – but en garde

  34. Your points are well taken Scott. However I fail to understand this:

    Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan Al Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, the US used to be a place where guilt was not held to automatically pass from father to son.

    Of what guilt is Hasan Al Banna being accused of? He had helped establish the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928 as a resistance movement against British Colonialism. From then to 1949, when Al Banna was assasinated, the Brotherhoods activities did not constitute what can be described as terrorism. Is he being accused of the political direction and violence undertaken by the brotherhood a few decades after his death?