The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

The Empire Attacking Academic Freedom

Today's Guadian Reports that the Tariq Ramadan saga in the States is ending. Ramadan, swiss citizen and grand-son of Egyptian MB founder Hassan al-Banna, is one of Europe's most important Islamist thinkers. He won joint- appointments at Notre Dame last spring to teach Islamic studies and religion, conflict, and peace-building. A week before arriving Stateside in August, Homeland Security revoked his visa because of a security threat which was neither disclosed nor clarified.
Despite attempts, including petitions signed by the most prominent of US academics working on the ME, the government chose to say and do nothing.

Yesterday it more or less ended with Ramadan resigning his appointments at Notre Dame.

There is a direct and aggressive assault on thought on behalf of the American Empire. The last MESA presidential address by Laurie Brand at the San Franscisco meeting in November cogently argued such a line. When it is published on the web, it will be posted.

Academics, intellectals, and thinkers have for centuries struggled with various types of governments about their ideas. Now the world's latest Empire has joined the rather poor company of governments that oppose intellectuals.

After 9/11 there was a moment to deepen understanding, spread lines of inquiry, and increase integration. The Bush administration missed the chance by opting for the conservative more long-term detrimental route. Shame on them.

Some of my Egyptian friends happily rushed to say that "America is not allowing Tariq Ramadan to teach there" so as to flaunt the US mistake last fall. Unfortunately, a fact not revealed in the Egyptian press is that Ramadan has not been allowed into Egypt since 1995.
The sad part is that I bet a high majority of Americans do not even know this is going on. Oh....the empire does not have to disclose what is not happening.

It is ok though - these is an ebb in government-intellectual relations. Academic disciplines will continue. Thankfully, hard-working, serious thinkers that push the envelop would not have it any other way....from where ever they find the space and tolerance to practice their trade.

Keep pisses them off.