Fox & Friends baselessly claimed Muslim scholar Ramadan has "ties to terrorists"

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

Fox & Friends again baselessly suggested that Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan was "banned from entering the United States" because of "ties to terrorists." However, Ramadan -- who was never charged with any crime -- denied knowing that a charity to which he donated was alleged to have ties to Hamas, and media reports noted that he was "denied admittance" during the Bush administration "after making statements counter to U.S. foreign policy."

Fox & Friends: Ramadan was "banned from entering the United States" because of "ties to terrorists"

From the April 9 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:

STEVE DOOCY (co-host): Welcome back. Last night at a panel discussion entitled "Secularism, Islam and Democracy," highly controversial speakers were featured including Tariq Ramadan, an Islamic scholar who recently was banned from entering in the United States.

BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): Because of ties to terrorists. Lorna Salzman is an anti-terror activist. She attended the event last night in order to distribute information about what those panelists really believe. Lorna, what did you find -- thanks for coming up after a late night.

LORNA SALZMAN [activist]: I'm glad to be here. It's really important.

KILMEADE: Were people open to you handing out the true backgrounds of this character?

SALZMAN: Some people were very hostile. Actually, a woman from PEN, one of the sponsors tried to prevent me from handing out stuff.

[...]

DOOCY: Yeah, because he had been -- essentially declared by the State Department -- you can't let him in because he's got terror ties until the ACLU injected themselves; Hillary Clinton got involved and the next thing you know he's got an invitation.

SALZMAN: Yeah, Yeah. He's a very clever guy. He's not controversial. He's actually not a very effective speaker. He calls himself a philosopher and I think that's accurate because you could interpret what he says in any way you want.

[...]

KILMEADE: But do you think he's a terrorist? A terrorist sympathizer?

SALZMAN: He's not a terrorist. He's a propagandist for organizations that are terrorist or funding. There's no question about that.

Fox & Friends previously smeared Ramadan as an "alleged terrorist." On March 30, Fox & Friends claimed Ramadan was an "alleged terrorist" who was "getting access" to "the minds of our kids," through speaking engagements at U.S. universities.

Bush administration cited tenuous ties between Ramadan and a charity later linked to Hamas

Bush administration initially "refused to give its reason" for banning Ramadan; later claimed Ramadan donated $1,300 to a charity that had ties to Hamas. The New York Times reported on January 20 of Ramadan, a professor of contemporary Islamic studies at the University of Oxford, that "the Bush administration revoked his visa [in 2004], and denied him a new one in 2006, citing a provision of the Patriot Act that allows the barring of foreigners who 'use a position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity.' " The Times further reported that "[a]t first, the government refused to give its reason [for denying Ramadan's visa]. But eventually it pointed to evidence that from 1998 to 2002 Professor Ramadan had donated about $1,300 to a Swiss-based charity that in turn provided money to Hamas, the militant Palestinian group." The article continued: "But the professor argued that he had believed the charity had no connections to terrorist activities or to Hamas, and said that he had always condemned terrorism."

However, Ramadan's donations came prior to the U.S.'s designation of these charities as having ties with Hamas, and Ramadan denied any prior knowledge of charity's alleged ties. The New York Times reported on July 17, 2009, that "[t]he government cited evidence that from 1998 to 2002, [Ramadan] donated about $1,300 to a Swiss-based charity which the Treasury Department later categorized as a terrorist organization because it provided money to Hamas." Indeed, the Treasury Department did not designate Association de Secours Palestinien -- which the Times reported was the charity in question -- as a "primary fundraiser" for Hamas until August 22, 2003. In his October 2006 Washington Post op-ed, Ramadan asked, "How should I reasonably have known of their activities before the U.S. government itself knew?" From Ramadan's op-ed:

In its letter, the U.S. Embassy claims that I "reasonably should have known" that the charities in question provided money to Hamas. But my donations were made between December 1998 and July 2002, and the United States did not blacklist the charities until 2003. How should I reasonably have known of their activities before the U.S. government itself knew? I donated to these organizations for the same reason that countless Europeans -- and Americans, for that matter -- donate to Palestinian causes: not to help fund terrorism, but because I wanted to provide humanitarian aid to people who desperately need it.

Federal appeals court sided with Ramadan in challenging the Bush administration's refusal to allow him into the U.S. The New York Times reported on July 17, 2009, that a federal appeals court "reversed a lower court ruling that had allowed the government to bar [Ramadan] from entering the United States on grounds he had contributed to a charity that had connections to terrorism." The Times later reported: "In its ruling ... a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held unanimously that the government was required to 'confront Ramadan with the allegation against him and afford him the subsequent opportunity to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that he did not know, and reasonably should not have known, that the recipient of his contributions was a terrorist organization.' " From the article:

A federal appeals court in Manhattan on Friday reversed a lower court ruling that had allowed the government to bar a prominent Muslim scholar from entering the United States on grounds he had contributed to a charity that had connections to terrorism.

The scholar, Tariq Ramadan, 46, a Swiss academic, was to become a tenured professor at the University of Notre Dame, but the Bush administration revoked his visa in 2004 and denied him a visa in 2006. The government cited evidence that from 1998 to 2002, he donated about $1,300 to a Swiss-based charity which the Treasury Department later categorized as a terrorist organization because it provided money to Hamas.

Professor Ramadan had said in a later court affidavit that he was not aware of any connections between the charity, Association de Secours Palestinien, and Hamas or terrorism, and that he believed the organization was involved in legitimate humanitarian projects. "I have condemned terrorism at every opportunity," he wrote.

In its ruling on Friday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held unanimously that the government was required to "confront Ramadan with the allegation against him and afford him the subsequent opportunity to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that he did not know, and reasonably should not have known, that the recipient of his contributions was a terrorist organization."

The record was unclear whether a consular officer who had denied the visa had done so, the panel said in its 52-page ruling, written by Judge Jon O. Newman and joined by Judges Wilfred Feinberg and Reena Raggi.

The panel sent the case back to the lower court for a determination on whether Professor Ramadan had been confronted with the allegation, and then given a chance to deny it.

Ramadan has condemned terrorism as being against the teachings of Islam. In a November 1, 2004, interview with Foreign Policy, Ramadan said, "Terrorism, which kills innocent people, is not Islamically acceptable." From the interview:

FP: How do you feel when Islam is used to justify terrorism?

TR: Horrified. But responsible. When the Luxor terrorist attack took place [in Egypt] eight years ago, long before 9/11, I wrote a letter from a Swiss Muslim to his fellow citizens saying that this is not acceptable.... We have to condemn this as Muslims and as human beings. And we have to do whatever possible within Islamic communities to spread better understanding about who we are and what we can do to deal with other people. We can have a legitimate resistance to oppression, but the means should be legitimate. Terrorism, which kills innocent people, is not Islamically acceptable. Within Islam there is an accepted diversity -- you can be a literalist, a Sufi mystic, or a reformist, so long as you don't say others are less Muslim than others -- and we must never say that terrorism or violence is part of this accepted diversity.

As the U.K. Independent reported, Ramadan said after the July 7, 2005, London terror attacks, "The authors of such acts are criminals and we cannot accept or listen to their probable justifications in the name of an ideology, a religion or a political cause."

State Dept. concluded that Ramadan did not "represent a threat" to U.S.

State Dept. official: "We do not think that either one of them represents a threat to the United States." In a January 20 State Department briefing noting the decision to overturn the Bush administration's ban on Ramadan and Adam Habib -- a deputy vice chancellor at the University of Johannesburg -- from entering the U.S., assistant secretary Philip Crowley stated, "[W]e do not think that either one of them represents a threat to the United States." Crowley also stated: "[T]he next time Professor Ramadan or Professor Habib applies for a visa, he will not be found inadmissible on the basis of the facts that led to denial when he last applied."

Ramadan was denied entry into U.S. after being critical of Iraq war, Bush administration

Ramadan publicly criticized U.S. policies during Bush administration. In an October 1, 2006, Washington Post op-ed, Ramadan -- whom the Post reported in December 2004 "is well-regarded in intellectual circles as a scholar who seeks to bridge the Western and Muslim worlds" -- wrote: "I am increasingly convinced that the Bush administration has barred me for a much simpler reason: It doesn't care for my political views. In recent years, I have publicly criticized U.S. policy in the Middle East, the war in Iraq, the use of torture, secret CIA prisons and other government actions that undermine fundamental civil liberties."

NYT: "Evidence suggests that Mr. Ramadan's strong criticism of United States foreign policy is what really triggered his exclusion." A September 17, 2009, New York Times editorial argued that the Bush administration "barr[ed] numerous people from entering the country for speaking engagements or conferences to teach at leading universities-all under the flimsily supported guise of fighting terrorism." Of Ramadan, the Times argued that the "evidence suggests that Mr. Ramadan's strong criticism of United States foreign policy is what really triggered his exclusion." From the Times:

In 2004, the Bush administration revoked the visa of Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss national and Muslim scholar, who was to become a tenured professor at the University of Notre Dame. It again denied him a visa in 2006. Two months ago, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan unanimously reversed a lower-court ruling allowing the government's move.

The government cited evidence that from 1998 to 2002, Mr. Ramadan contributed about $1,300 to a Swiss-based charity that the Treasury Department later categorized as a terrorist organization. Mr. Ramadan said that he believed the group was involved in humanitarian projects, and that he was not aware of any connections between the charity, the Association de Secours Palestinien, and Hamas or terrorism, which, he said, he condemns. The evidence suggests that Mr. Ramadan's strong criticism of United States foreign policy is what really triggered his exclusion.

AP: Professors "were denied admittance after making statements counter to U.S. foreign policy." In a January 20 article, the AP reported that State Department spokesman Darby Holladay "noted the change in U.S. posture since both professors, who are frequently invited to the United States to lecture, were denied admittance after making statements counter to U.S. foreign policy." From the article:

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.

Clinton "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 U.S. posture since both professors, who are frequently invited to the United States to lecture, were denied admittance after making statements counter to U.S. foreign policy.

"Both the president and the secretary of state have made it clear that the U.S. government is pursuing a new relationship with Muslim communities based on mutual interest and mutual respect," Holladay said. The decision was made after consultations with the departments of Homeland Security and Justice, he added.

"We want to encourage a global debate," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters in Washington. "As we look at it, we do not think that either one of them represents a threat to the United States."

Washington Post: "We wish we felt more certain" that it was "not the case" that Ramadan was barred for having "views [that] annoy" Bush administration. In a September 7, 2004, editorial, the Washington Post discussed the unusual circumstances surrounding the Bush administration's decision to revoke Ramadan's visa. The editorial stated:

It may be, as some have alleged, that Mr. Ramadan has dodgy connections to some who are extremists, in which case the government was within its rights to exclude him. Or it could be, as others have alleged, that his visa was revoked after lobbying by people who dislike his views on U.S. policy in the Middle East. If so, this would not be the first time that "information" about sensitive immigrants was influenced by domestic political concerns. Because we are prevented from knowing anything about it, we can only say that if this is the case, and Mr. Ramadan is not a threat to national security, then a terrible, damaging mistake has occurred: The U.S. government has stated, in effect, that influential people whose views annoy other influential people will not be welcome in this country, no matter how eminent they may be. We hope that is not the case, and we wish we felt more certain that it were not.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Religion
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