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With Ban Lifted, Prominent Scholar to Arrive in United
States and Participate in ASA Annual Meeting

Professor Adam Habib No Longer Denied Visa Because of Political Views


NEW YORK, March 22, 2010 — A prominent political and social science scholar is coming to the United States after years of being wrongfully denied entry to the country on the basis of his political views. The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the denial of visas to Professor Adam Habib of the University of Johannesburg in a lawsuit filed on behalf of the American Sociological Association (ASA) which had invited him to speak at several of its annual meetings.

In a major victory for civil liberties, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in January signed orders effectively ending the exclusion of Professor Habib. He (and wife and young children who had also been excluded) has obtained 10-year visa and will be in the United States over the next few weeks to participate in various events and discussions with academics, members of Congress and the public. He will be available to members of the media during his visit.

"Professor Habib's professional activities and scholarly work are about democracy-building and peaceful social change in the third world, especially Africa and South Africa," said ASA Executive Officer Sally T. Hillsman, PhD. "We are grateful to Secretary of State Clinton for her wisdom in rejecting the position that our government can bar people like Professor Habib simply because they are thoughtfully critical of policy positions taken by our government. Secretary Clinton has significantly reduced the threat to the conduct and communication of science and scholarship worldwide as an important tool in building and sustaining democracy."

Professor Adam Habib is a respected political scientist and Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Advancement at the University of Johannesburg, as well as a Muslim of Indian extraction who has been a vocal critic of the war in Iraq and some U.S. terrorism-related policies. The ACLU and the ACLU of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit in 2007 challenging his exclusion on behalf of the American Sociological Association, the American Association of University Professors, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and the Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights.

Hillsman emphasized that "the positive impact of this decision will be recognized by scholars and researchers throughout the United States and elsewhere in the world. ASA's elected Council has spoken out on many occasions throughout the years on government actions that have attempted to restrict the freedom of scholars' travel and speech. Council's defense of our Association's members to hear Professor Habib was in support of academic freedom, and we are grateful for the support of the ACLU in defending our members' First Amendment rights. We look forward to hearing Professor Habib at our 105th Annual Meeting in Atlanta."

Professor Tariq Ramadan, Chair of Contemporary Islamic Studies at St. Antony's College, Oxford University, also had his previously denied visa reinstated following Clinton's action. In 2004, he had accepted a tenured position at the University of Notre Dame, but the U.S. government revoked his visa just days before he was to begin teaching there. The ACLU and the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in 2006 challenging his exclusion on behalf of the American Academy of Religion, the American Association of University Professors and the PEN American Center.

"We are thrilled that Americans will no longer be deprived of the opportunity to engage Professors Habib and Ramadan in face-to-face dialogue and debate," said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. "The Obama administration's decision to stop barring Professor Habib and Ramadan from the U.S. demonstrates its commendable commitment to the free exchange of ideas. We hope this signals that the administration will review the cases of others barred because of their political views, and end the unlawful and un-American practice of ideological exclusion for good."

"It is wonderful for my wife Fatima and me to be back in the United States and to be able once again to engage with our many professional colleagues and friends here," said Habib. "Secretary Clinton's decision to end my exclusion is an important one for the advancement of free speech, human rights, and accountable government in the U.S. and globally. It is important that she follow through on this initial step and bring to an end the practice of ideological exclusion."

During the Bush administration, the U.S. government had denied visas to dozens of foreign artists, scholars and writers — all critics of U.S. foreign policy — without explanation or on vague national security grounds.

Habib, who arrives this week, will participate in several university visits including a discussion of ideological exclusion on March 31 at Harvard Law School co-sponsored by the ACLU of Massachusetts.

Statements from the plaintiffs in the case challenging the exclusion of Adam Habib, ASA v. Clinton, are online at: www.aclu.org/national-security/american-sociological-association-v-clinton-plaintiff-statements-response-secretar.

More information about ideological exclusion is available online at: www.aclu.org/exclusion.

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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.