US Government accuse Muslims for extremism and imposing restrictions on personnel freedom. But when it comes to practice they are the first to break their own rules. Recently there has been a sting of entry denials by the US Government to Western Islamic scholars who attempt to visit the United States on invitations by American universities and organizations. Under the ironic heading, “Fear Of A Muslim Opinion” the resourceful community blog, altmuslim.com reports on recent US entry denials to some top Islamic scholars from Western countries.
A pattern of denied entries to the United States of Muslim scholars – with no evidence given – is exacerbating tensions caused by an already existing lack of dialogue [between America and Muslims]
In September, American authorities upheld their ban of noted Swiss academic Tariq Ramadan, who had a previous visa revoked in 2004 before he could begin a tenured position at the University of Notre Dame. Reason given for the denial was a small contribution made to a Palestinian charity allegedly linked to Hamas before the charities were blacklisted by the US. (Note: Tariq Ramadan is a renowned academic in Europe and many view him as the leading figure of European Muslims. His official site is tariqramadan.com)
British Muslim leader Dr. Kamal Helbawy was denied entry in New York on October 18, despite not being on any no-fly list and serving as an advisor to British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Two South African scholars – Adam Habib and Fazlur Rahman Azmi – were denied entry after reaching the US, visas in hand, prompting intervention by the South African government, to no avail.
Interestingly they are Muslim Islamic scholars from Western countries and respected by Muslims as well as non-Muslims. However these are only some high profile cases. In addition to scholars, there have been many recent entry denials to the United States that include students, academics and businessmen. Besides entry denials recent years have seen many Muslims being deported from the US on flimsy allegations that seem to be getting bizarre by the day.
Couple of months back, former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami had his visa personally approved by President George Bush and visited United States in a lecture tour. Then many were seen praising the Bush administration for its openness to differing opinions. That openness seems to be ‘pick and choose’ openness when it comes to Western Islamic scholars. Perhaps they’ll be allowed to enter if they were to come from Iran!