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September 25, 2007

American Sociological Association Files Complaint Against the U.S. Government for Excluding Prominent South African Scholar Adam Habib from the United States

Boston, MA, September 25, 2007 — The American Civil Liberties (ACLU), on behalf of the American Sociological Association (ASA), the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee’s (ADC) Massachusetts Chapter (ADC-MA), and the Boston Coalition of Palestinian Rights (BCPR), filed a legal complaint today against the United States Government for excluding prominent South African scholar Adam Habib from entering the United States. The lawsuit seeks clarification of rights relative to free speech constitutional guarantees and injunctive relief from the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security so that Habib can enter the country.

Until recently, Professor Habib, a vocal critic of the war in Iraq, traveled frequently to and from the United States. However, in October of 2006, Customs and Border officials revoked Dr. Habib’s visa without explanation upon his arrival at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City. On May 11, 2007, Professor Habib filed an application for another visa to attend the ASA Annual Meeting in New York City from August 10-14, 2007. The U.S. Government failed to act on his visa application, causing Dr. Habib to miss his speaking engagement (see ASA’s August 10 press release).

Since then, Professor Habib has informed the U.S. government of upcoming invitations to speak at U.S. events hosted by the ASA, AAUP, ADC, ADC-MA, and the BCPR, but his visa application continues to languish without explanation. Habib is an American-educated PhD and is the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Advancement at the University of Johannesburg.

The ASA and other plaintiff organizations seek an order compelling the government to immediately make a decision regarding Professor Habib’s pending visa application, a declaration that defendants’ exclusion of Professor Habib violates the First Amendment rights of U.S. organizations and individuals who have invited him to speak in the country. The complaint also demands an injunction barring defendants from excluding Professor Habib on the basis of speech that U.S. residents have a constitutional right to hear.

Academic freedom, whose foundation is the ability of scholars from wide-ranging perspectives to engage in dialog that nurtures scientific development to the benefit of the larger society, is absolutely fundamental to the mission of the ASA. The ASA has expressed its deepest disappointment and profound concern about the United States’ exclusion of Dr. Habib. 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.

For a copy of the complaint click here.

Interviews available: Arne L. Kalleberg, President, American Sociological Association

About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association (, 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.