Sepember 9, 2004
The Honorable Tom Ridge
Secretary of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Ambassador Maura Ann Harty
Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs
Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Ridge and Ambassador Harty,
We write to you as the President of the 11,000-member American Anthropological Association and the President of the AAA?s Middle East Section (representing more than 250 scholars of Middle Eastern culture) to express our deep surprise and even deeper disquiet concerning the recent revocation of a work visa for Dr. Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss Muslim scholar who has been appointed as Henry R. Luce Professor of Religion, Conflict, and Peace-Building at the University of Notre Dame.
Dr. Ramadan is a prominent European intellectual whose work seeks to articulate new ways of thinking about contemporary Muslim identity in the West. He has been honored by mainstream American media like Time magazine as an important religious innovator who seeks to bridge Islamic values and Western culture. Even his harshest critics praised his 1999 book To Be a European Muslim as ?thoughtful and moderate.?
Our country?s security requires knowledge of and engagement with influential scholars of Islam like Professor Ramadan. This strengthens our own position in the world in the eyes of Muslim populations, and supports Muslims advocating moderate paths of accommodation with the West. Rather than banning Dr. Ramadan, the United States should praise him for braving anti-U.S. sentiment in Europe and the Muslim world and agreeing to come to the United States to share his ideas.
Attempts to bar from this country representatives of progressive Muslim thought can only damage America as a beacon of freedom in the world. If American students, professionals, leaders, and the general public are deprived of the opportunity to hear powerful Muslim voices of peace, we all will be poorer in spirit, weaker in mind, and less secure in our own convictions.
We join with the American Association of University Professors in their letter of 27 August, and the Middle East Studies Association of North America, and the American Academy of Religion in their joint letter of 30 August, in vigorously requesting you to reinstate Dr. Ramadan?s visa.
Daniel M.Varisco Elizabeth M. Brumfiel
President, Middle East Section President
American Anthropological Association American Anthropological Association
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