By revoking Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan's visa to stop him from teaching at the University of Notre Dame [Nation in Brief, Aug. 25], the U.S. government has dealt a blow to academic freedom.
It strikes fear into some hearts that experts on American and European Muslims may influence academic and public debate, publishing widely and mentoring new experts. The fearful prefer no change in the status quo.
At recent meetings of the American Sociological Association, scholars asked why U.S. sociologists know so little about Muslims. I answered that academia had shown little interest in hiring professors with such expertise; it wasn't considered important. It is shocking how badly the United States trails the rest of the world in its knowledge of Muslims. The appointment of Mr. Ramadan by Notre Dame's Kroc Institute was a bold step toward catching up. As a senior researcher in this field, I was looking forward to exchanging ideas with him. His message that Muslims in the West must "[f]ind common values and build with fellow citizens a society based on diversity and equality" needs to be heard.
This is sad for academics, Muslims in this country and the entire American public. The U.S. government should reinstate Mr. Ramadan's visa, uphold its principles of freedom and allow this country to become an enlightened participant in a diverse world.
The writer is a senior research fellow at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Great Cities Institute.