At Last Allowed, Muslim Scholar Visits

April 7, 2010

Author: Kirk Semple

Source: The New York Times

A federal appeals court had ruled in his favor. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had issued an order that paved the way for a visa. And so, on Wednesday afternoon, Tariq Ramadan stepped off a plane at Newark Liberty International Airport for his first visit to the United States since 2004, when the Bush administration barred him from entering, asserting he had contributed money to terrorist enterprises.

But for Mr. Ramadan, one of the foremost European scholars of the Islamic world, there was still one last hurdle: a closed-door session with three immigration agents, one after the other, who asked him where he planned to go, whom he planned to meet and what he planned to discuss.

Two hours after his plane from Paris landed, Mr. Ramadan, wearing a dark suit and a smile of relief, cleared customs and shook hands with two representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union, which had litigated his case, and Muna Ali, an assistant of his who lives in the United States.