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Hearing ‘voices of Hearing ‘voices of diverse moderation’

Observer Viewpoint | Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Department of Homeland Security recently revoked the visa of Professor Tariq Ramadan, a prominent European Muslim intellectual who had been hired to teach religion, conflict and peacebuilding at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.Personally, I am deeply saddened at this action. Having spent some time with professor Ramadan and his family – including teaching his three children the finer points of baseball at Eck Stadium last spring – I know Ramadan as a warm and brilliant man who would be an outstanding addition to the Kroc Institute faculty, to the Notre Dame and South Bend community and to America’s broader discussion of Islam.Although American immigration history has always been marked by cycles of who we do or don’t let into the country, and I recognize the debate between freedom and security is an ongoing one, this instance seems particularly puzzling and even capricious. Even acknowledging that Ramadan is a controversial figure in some quarters – some have accused him of anti-Semitism, based in part on his critiques of Israel’s human rights record, and entirely specious claims that he is some kind of secret advocate for militant Islam – it seems ridiculous to consider him a threat to national security in any way. If anything, America is impoverished, not strengthened, by professor Ramadan’s absence.I am confident the Ramadan family would be outstanding citizens and would add tremendous richness to the Notre Dame community. Especially in these precarious times, we need more voices of diverse moderation rather than radical exclusiveness, regardless of which ideological or religious viewpoint they represent.

Patrick MasonGraduate studentAug. 25