US lifts Bush-era ban on 2 Muslim scholars
New York: The State Department has cleared the way for the return to the United States of two prominent Muslim scholars once accused of having ties to terrorism, a spokesman said on Wednesday.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has signed orders enabling the re-entry of professors Tariq Ramadan of Oxford University in England and Adam Habib of the University of Johannesburg in South Africa once they obtain required admittance documents, department spokesman Darby Holladay said.
Hillary "has chosen to exercise her exemption authority for the benefit of Tariq Ramadan and Adam Habib," Holladay said. "We'll let that action speak for itself."
In a prepared statement, Holladay noted the change in US posture since both professors, who are frequently invited to the United States to lecture, were denied admittance after making statements counter to US foreign policy.
"Both the President and the Secretary of State have made it clear that the US government is pursuing a new relationship with Muslim communities based on mutual interest and mutual respect," Holladay said.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued in recent years to challenge the exclusion of the professors. It said the State Department's action means the scholars will now get visas within weeks of requesting them.
Habib, a well-known South African scholar who has been a critic of the war in Iraq, was denied a visa by the US government in a letter saying he "engaged in a terrorist activity," an accusation Habib has vigorously denied.