US lifts visa ban on Muslim scholar

The US Department of State said Wednesday it lifted a ban on Swiss Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan entering the country, six years after using the Patriot Act to revoke his visa.

The decision was signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“I am very happy and hopeful that I will be able to visit the United States very soon and to once again engaged in an open, critical and constructive dialogue with American scholars and intellectuals,” Professor Ramadan said in a statement.

The travel ban on him was imposed in the wake of an accusation that he had contributed to the terrorism from 1998 to 2002 by donating about $1,300 to a Swiss-based charity that provided money to Hamas and other Palestinian groups.

The Bush administration in 2006, under the Patriot Act, revoked Ramadan’s visa, as he sought to travel to the US to take up a position as a tenured professor at the University of Notre Dame.

The Oxford University professor argued that he had believed the charity had no connections to terrorist activities and that he had always condemned terrorism.

In August 2009, Ramadan was dismissed from his positions at a university in the Netherlands for hosting a Press TV program, which the Dutch authorities said was “irreconcilable” with his position as a guest professor.

The Swiss-born scholar said his dismissal was the result of Western “hypocrisy.”

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