Last Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton signed a visa waiver allowing Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan (pictured, via) to enter the United States–effectively ending a court battle over Patriot Act exclusions.
In 2006, PEN, the ACLU, the American Association of University Professors, and the American Academy of Religions sued when the Department of Homeland security cited a “a Patriot Act provision barring those who ‘endorse or espouse terrorism’” as the basis for revoking Ramadan’s visa. Despite the fact he had condemned terrorism, the visa problem prevented him taking a tenured position at the University of Notre Dame.
Ramadan had this statement: “I am very pleased with the decision to end my exclusion from the United States after almost six years … I want to thank all the institutions and individuals who have supported me and worked to end unconstitutional ideological exclusion over the years. I am very happy and hopeful that I will be able to visit the United States very soon and to once again engage in an open, critical and constructive dialogue with American scholars and intellectuals.”
PEN president Kwame Anthony Appiah applauded the action in a statement: “[It] sends an important signal about our country’s commitment to preserving a free and open exchange of information and ideas with the rest of the world…At a time when a number of countries seem intent on limiting the access of their own citizens to the international conversation, it is especially crucial for the United States of America to take a strong and clear stand against censorship at the border.”