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Tariq Ramadan, a prominent Muslim scholar barred from entering the United States in 2004 will be in New York in a few weeks to discuss “Secularism, Islam and Democracy: Muslims in Europe and the West.” The U.S. travel ban was just lifted in January, by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

tariq ramadan.jpgIn my interview with Ramadan for Religion News Service last fall, the professor and author defined himself as legally Swiss, culturally European, ethnically Egyptian and religiously Muslim. The second half of that description generally gets emphasized in the USA, especially as government officials, citing his support of Palestinian charities later accused of funding terrorism, refused to let him accept academic positions and speaking engagements here for the past six years. But Ramadan has also been banned from Egypt and other parts of the Muslim world, because of his arguments against dictatorships and fundamentalist Islam.

The April 8 panel at Cooper Union will also include Ian Buruma, a journalist; Dalia Mogahed, director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies; and Joan Wallach Scott, a professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study and the author of “The Politics of the Veil.” Sounds interesting — too bad I’ll miss it by a few days. (Typical!) 

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