Fox baselessly suggests Muslim scholars are "terrorists"

››› ››› ERIC SCHROECK

Fox & Friends baselessly suggested that Muslim scholars Tariq Ramadan and Adam Habib -- who were both denied entry into the United States under the Bush administration but had the ban lifted by the Obama administration -- are "terrorists." However, both have denied engaging in terrorist activity, neither was ever charged with any crime, and media accounts have noted that they "were denied admittance after making statements counter to U.S. foreign policy."

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 repeatedly 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."

Government never provided evidence to back claim that Habib "engaged in a terrorist activity," a claim Habib "vigorously denied"

Habib "vigorously denied" Bush administration's claim that he "engaged in a terrorist activity." The Bush administration revoked the visa of Habib -- the deputy vice chancellor of Research, Innovation, and Advancement at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa -- in October 2006, and denied him a visa in October 2007. The AP reported on January 20 that Habib, "a well-known South African scholar who has criticized the war in Iraq, was denied a visa by the U.S. government in a letter saying he 'engaged in a terrorist activity,' an accusation Habib has vigorously denied." The AP noted in a November 14, 2007, article [accessed via Nexis] that "[i]n an Oct. 26 letter sent to Habib ... the State Department formally denied his visa, citing terrorist activity as the reason" and that "[t]he letter gave no details of the alleged terrorist activity."

Habib: "I'm confident that I can't be linked to things like terrorism." In a September 25, 2007, AP article [accessed via Nexis], Habib said: "I'm fairly transparent. I'm critical of the American government. I've written negative things about their policies, that I thought their approach to the Iraq war was a disaster, but I'm confident that I can't be linked to things like terrorism. That is not what my politics is about."

Federal appeals court: Government "failed to offer any explanation as to why Habib's visa" was denied, "other than bare reference" to unspecified engagement in terrorist activities. In his ruling allowing the challenge to Habib's 2007 visa denial to proceed, U.S. District Judge George A. O'Toole Jr. noted that other than claiming that Habib was "ineligible for" a "nonimmigrant visa" because he "has engaged in a terrorist activity," the government had given "no other," more specific "explanation" for denying Habib's visa. The judgment further noted that "the government has failed to offer any explanation as to why Habib's visa application was denied, other than a bare reference to 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(3)(B)," which references persons who are "inadmissible" to the United States due to an affiliation with "terrorist activities."

NY Times noted in 2009 that "the government has yet to explain its precise legal or factual reasoning" for banning Habib from U.S. In a September 17, 2009, editorial, the Times wrote that Habib "was interrogated for seven hours and told that his visa had been revoked when he tried to enter the United States in 2006 for professional meetings." The Times continued: "He was later told that his exclusion was based on terrorism-related grounds. He is challenging the action in court, but the government has yet to explain its precise legal or factual reasoning."

State Dept. concluded that Ramadan, Habib do 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 Habib 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."

Both Ramadan and Habib were denied entry into U.S. after being critical of Iraq war, Bush administration

Habib: "Am I critic of the U.S. government? Absolutely.".Habib discussed his 2006 denial of entry in a September 25, 2007, Huffington Post column, writing that some, "including some high-ranking public officials in South Africa, believe" the revocation of his visa "had to do with my involvement in anti-Iraq war demonstrations in 2003." He added "Am I critic of the U.S. government? Absolutely. In addition to my active participation in anti-war demonstrations, I have been very critical both in my speeches and in my writing about American foreign policy in Africa and the Middle East."

The Christian Science Monitor reported in November 2007 that Habib is "[a] South African scholar and critic of the war in Iraq" and "a respected social scientist." The Associated Press further reported on January 20 that Habib is "a well-known South African scholar who has criticized the war in Iraq."

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."

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."

Fox & Friends smears Ramadan, Habib as "alleged terrorists"

Doocy: Ramadan, Habib were banned from U.S. because of "alleged ties to terror." Teasing a segment about Ramadan and Habib being scheduled to give university lectures, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy said: "President Bush banned these two guys from the United States because of alleged ties to terror, but Hillary Clinton invited them back and now they're speaking to college kids about their life story. What's that about?" An on-screen graphic included the text, "Terrorist to Lecture?":

scholars

Carlson compares Ramadan and Habib to Coulter, calls them "alleged terrorists." During a later segment, co-host Gretchen Carlson said, "Keep in mind Ann Coulter was just now allowed to speak in Canada, but we're gonna allow a guy who funds Islamist terrorist groups, like Hamas, to come to Harvard University?" Carlson later asked of the ACLU, which supported Habib's challenge of the Bush administration's ban, "There always seems to be a double standard, does there not, with the ACLU?" and then claimed, "You would think if they're going to support the First Amendment rights of alleged terrorists, they would also support the rights of conservative speech on college campuses."

Johnson cites AP to claim Habib "engaged in terrorist activities" and that Ramadan "was allegedly involved with ties to funding Hamas." During the segment, guest co-host Peter Johnson Jr. said: "[A]ccording to The Associated Press, Mr. Habib -- Professor Habib -- was banned previously because he engaged in terrorist activities and Mr. Ramadan was allegedly involved with ties to funding Hamas, another terrorist organization." However, Johnson did not note that according to the AP, Habib "vigorously denied" "engag[ing] in a terrorist activity" and that "Ramadan has said he has no connections to terrorism, opposes Islamic extremism and promotes peaceful solutions."

Carlson fearmongers: Ramadan, Habib "getting access" to "the minds of our kids." In a later segment, Carlson claimed of Ramadan and Habib, "[N]ow, they're getting access to not only our country but to the minds of our kids on college campuses."

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, Terrorism
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