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August 10, 2007

Political Ideology May Be the Cause of the
U.S. Government’s Failure to Admit
World-Renowned Scholar Adam Habib
to Participate in the 2007 ASA Annual Meeting


NEW YORK, NY—The United States Government has declined to act on the visa application of world-renowned South African scholar Adam Habib, thereby preventing him from entering the United States to participate in the American Sociological Association’s (ASA) 102nd Annual Meeting in New York City. Dr. Habib was scheduled to speak on Saturday, August 11, on an invited presidential panel titled “Globalization and Resistance.”

Adam Habib is an American-trained PhD, renowned scholar, internationally sought-after analyst, and Executive Director of South Africa’s Human Science Research Council’s Program on Democracy and Governance. He is also a Muslim of Indian descent who has been a vocal critic of the U.S. war in Iraq and certain U.S. terrorism-related policies.

Months ago, Professor Habib accepted an invitation from the President of the ASA to participate in the ASA Annual Meeting. Although, Dr. Habib has been a frequent visitor to the United States and held a valid visa, he was turned away by U.S. officials last October after arriving at JFK International Airport. He was coming to the United States for a series of meetings with private research and academic organizations and U.S. government agencies including the National Institutes of Health.

Along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ASA has pressed the U.S. State Department on Dr. Habib’s behalf to gain permission for him to enter the United States to address the Association’s Annual Meeting which attracts over 6,000 national and international scholars. Because the U.S. government has previously excluded other intellectuals from entry into the United States apparently on ideological grounds, the ASA is concerned that the State Department’s denial of a visa by its failure to act in a timely manner may also be ideological exclusion. If so, this raises significant concerns for the Association’s leaders and its more than 14,000 members about the fate of academic freedom.

Academic freedom is absolutely fundamental to the mission of the ASA, which rests upon the ability of scholars from wide-ranging perspectives to engage in dialog that nurtures scientific development to the benefit of the larger society. Academic freedom is the hallmark of American democratic culture. It has allowed scientists, intellectuals, and their scholarly societies to flourish and create one of the world’s most dynamic educational systems and robust knowledge-based economies. ASA opposes the use of visa denials or de facto denials on ideological grounds, because such action suppresses free intellectual exchange. The United States has a long and enviable history as the world’s foremost host to scholars and supporter of intellectual exchange with its many social and economic benefits.

The ASA expresses its deepest disappointment and profound concern about the Department of State’s de facto denial of a visa, which has barred Professor Adam Habib from participating in the Association’s Annual Meeting. Such actions undermine the willingness of numerous scientists and academics from many nations to visit the United States and collaborate with their American colleagues. The ASA believes this limitation on scholarly exchange erodes our nation’s reputation as a defender of the free and open search for knowledge.

To request an interview with ASA President Frances Fox Piven, contact Sujata Sinha, Johanna Olexy, or Lee Herring at the ASA Annual Meeting Press Office at (212) 261-6169.

About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association (www.asanet.org), founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.