The Corner

Tariq Ramadan vs. Issam Abu Issa

The State Department has said that Tariq Ramadan, a controversial Islamist philosopher, will now get a visa to the United States, should he request one. The case for Ramadan usually rests on descriptions of Ramadan as a moderate — something which his critics dispute — the value of free debate, and the need for dialogue. Steven Schwartz provides an example of the case against Tariq Ramadan, here.

I won’t enter the debate about Tariq Ramadan, because I never saw the information against him that the Bush administration used to support his ban.

What bothers me is that we would make Tariq Ramadan the face of visa policy, but the academic community and the media largely ignore Issam Abu Issa, banned by the Bush administration for the crime of being a whistleblower against the Palestinian Authority’s corruption. His story is here. As Colin Powell wanted to engage the Palestinians, having Abu Issa testify in Congress about corruption seems to have simply been too inconvenient.

The result seems self-defeating. We will bend over backwards to accomodate those who advocate identity based on communalism, but slam the door shut on liberals who advocate against both dictatorship and radical Islamism.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.

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