Source: The Guardian
Tariq Ramadan knows all about travel bans. After all, he was never meant to end up here, in a pebbledash semi in north-west London. In 2004, he was on his way to the US, having been offered the role of professor of Islamic studies at the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana. Suddenly, nine days before his flight, a house already rented, kids enrolled in school, his visa was revoked.
The reasons given were vague at first, but eventually came down to the fact he supported a charity the Bush administration labelled a fundraiser for Hamas. They argued Ramadan should have known about the links. How could he, he said, when the donations were made before the blacklisting – in other words, before the US government itself knew? He believes, instead, that he was singled out for his opposition to the war in Iraq.
In 2010, Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, revoked the revocation, but by that time, Ramadan had been embraced by St Antony’s College, Oxford. Ramadan has no regrets. “I’m very happy that they prevented me from going. I’m much better off here,” he says, in gently accented English (he grew up in Geneva, speaking French and Arabic). Commuting to Oxford, he has made Metroland his home. In the States, he says, “I don’t think it’s a political atmosphere where you are free to speak. People are scared.”
It’s probably just as well he feels that way: the Trump administration won’t be rolling out the welcome mat. As well as its plans for a new executive order designed to prevent millions of Muslims from entering the country, it’s considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation. That poses a problem for Ramadan, as it was his grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, who founded the movement.