What the American Islamic Forum for Democracy derides as the "Tariq Ramadan American Islamist Victory Tour 2010" includes a May stop near Disneyland, where American Muslims are being warned by the self-described liberty lovers to "be on guard" as the Swiss academic continues his first U.S. visit since the Obama Administration lifted a six-year ban on his entry.
Ramadan, a professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, is scheduled to give the keynote address on "Islam in the 21st Century: Opportunities & Challenges" at the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California's annual benefit banquet May 15 at the Crowne Plaza Anaheim Resort, which is actually in Garden Grove. (Go here if you want tickets.)
It is the final scheduled appearance in a series of six speeches Ramadan is giving in the U.S. His first is Friday at Cooper Union in New York, where the academic is guest of the ACLU, the American Association of University Professors, the PEN American Center and Slate magazine.
Ramadan moves from there to give speeches in Chicago, Detroit and two in Washington, D.C. (the latter preceded by a jump over to the Netherlands) before coming to Orange County.
"Tariq Ramadan's entry into America needs to be met with open dialogue from the Muslim Community, non-Muslim organizations and the media on the real threat of Political Islam," writes M. Zuhdi Jasser, the president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), in an email. "It is incumbent on all Americans, especially American Muslims, to engage Ramadan at any opportunity to demonstrate that the US Constitution trumps the construct of the Islamic State."
Jasser founded his nonprofit organization in 2003, convincing other Muslim professionals in Phoenix, Arizona, to join him in advocating "for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state," according to the mission statement on the AIFD website.
His group has consistently been critical of Ramadan, calling the respected scholar "a threat to American Muslims because he puts a passive face on the ideology of political Islam and the concepts of Islamic supremacy that for many Muslims remains a dangerous slope to radicalization."
They acknowledge Ramadan is considered "a rock star to many European intellectual elites," but AIFD is quick to note he is the grandson of Hassan al Banna, who in 1928 founded the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Islamic political group in the world that has been unjustly oppressed or dangerously violent depending on who is doing the spinning.
Ramadan's father, Said Ramadan, is credited/discredited with bringing the Brotherhood to Germany. It eventually spread throughout Europe.
"While the words Muslim Brotherhood rarely leave his lips, Tariq Ramadan's ideology is indistinguishable from the Brotherhood which is counter to the principles of liberty and freedom found here in America," charges the AIFD.
"To give Ramadan an unfettered platform for his dissimulation while also perpetuating his message of victimization is to give him and his clerical colleagues a status which will forever retard real reform within Muslim thought," Jasser claims. "Real reform comes from those Muslim leaders with the personal strength of character to call for an end to the Islamic state and the separation of mosque and state. Ramadan has not. Rather he is a soft tongued global instrument of political Islam against the bulwark of real freedom and liberty as we know it in the United States."
Ramadan accepted the tenured position of Henry R. Luce Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame University in February 2004. But that August, U.S. Customs officials denied Ramadan entry into the country under the "ideological exclusion provision" of the Patriot Act.
The university filed a petition on Ramadan's behalf but hearing nothing from the government, he resigned from the post in December 2004.
Ramadan was later denied other attempts to get visas so he could honor speaking engagements, with the ACLU, the American Association of University Professors and the PEN American Center being among the groups wanting to host him and arguing on his behalf in the ensuing legal wars.
After a federal judge ordered the government to make a decision on Ramadan's pending visa request, his application was denied in September 2006, with a U.S. consular officer concluding the academic's actions "constituted providing material support to a terrorist organization."
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The government's evidence was $940 Ramadan gave to two charity groups that the U.S. Treasury Department linked to Hamas in August 2003. However, the academic made those donations between December 1998 and July 2002.
The ACLU kept up the court pressure, filing amended complaints. Some were knocked down by federal judges before an appeals court ruled in Ramadan's favor in July of last year. In January, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a document lifting the ban on Ramadan and South African professor Adam Habib.
"Coming after nearly six years of inquiry and investigation, Secretary Clinton's order confirms what I have affirmed and reaffirmed from day one: the first accusations of terrorist connections (subsequently dropped), then donations to Palestinian solidarity groups, were nothing more than a pretense to prohibit me from speaking critically about American government policy on American soil. The decision brings to an end a dark period in American politics that saw security considerations invoked to block critical debate through a policy of exclusion and baseless allegation."