Ramadan gains hope in US visa case
A federal appeals court has reversed a ruling that had upheld the United States government's right to bar Swiss Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan from entering the US.
The ruling boosts the hopes of Ramadan and US civil rights groups who argue that Washington had unlawfully revoked Ramadan's visa several times in 2004.
Ramadan had wanted to enter the US to take up a teaching post. After the original visa ruling, the case was sent back to a lower court for further consideration, which supported the government's position.
Government lawyers said that Ramadan had been barred because he had given SFr1,670 Swiss francs, then worth $1,336, to a Swiss-based charity, the Association de Secours Palestinien (ASP), from 1998 to 2002.
Washington listed ASP as a banned group in 2003, saying that it supported terrorism and had contributed funds to the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas.
Ramadan, an Oxford University professor, has maintained that he was unaware of any connections between the charity and terrorism.
On Friday the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it was unclear whether the consulate officer who considered Ramadan's case had given the professor the opportunity to say whether he knew about the alleged final destination of the funds.
It sent the case back to the lower court for a determination on whether Ramadan had been confronted with the allegation and given a chance to deny it. If this did not happen, a new visa hearing should be held, the court said.
"I am very gratified with the court's decision," said Ramadan in a statement. "I am eager to engage once again with Americans in the kinds of face-to-face discussions that are central to academic exchange and crucial to bridging cultural divides."
The professor is the grandson of Hassan-al Banna who founded the prominent Islamic movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, in 1928. The philosopher and Islamic scholar is a regular contributor to religious debate.
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