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Federal judge urges government to make visa decision on Muslim scholar

[JURIST] A federal district judge on Thursday urged the US government to make a decision regarding the visa application of prominent European Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan [ACLU profile]. Ramadan was originally denied a visa in August 2004, when he was offered a teaching position at the University of Notre Dame. A Swiss native, Ramadan teaches at Oxford University in England and has published 20 books on Islam. He has advocated a "third path" of Islam [court declaration, PDF] to harmonize the conflicting identities of Muslims in Western countries. Although he has publicly condemned terrorism, Ramadan has criticized the US occupation of Iraq. The American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] is representing Ramadan [JURIST report] and three academic organizations that have invited him to speak in the United States in a lawsuit [PDF complaint] against the US Department of Homeland Security, seeking to overturn a provision of the USA Patriot Act [PDF text, JURIST news archive] barring entry to any foreigner who endorses terrorism as unconstitutional.

Although government lawyers have denied that the provision motivated the US government's decision [NYT report], they have not offered the government's reasons for refusing Ramadan a visa or stated when it is likely to make a decision, citing national security concerns. Reuters has more.

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