SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The U.S. work visa of a Muslim scholar who was to teach at the University of Notre Dame has been revoked, a State Department spokeswoman said Tuesday, apparently under terms of the Patriot Act.
The visa for Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss citizen who has been criticized for remarks branded as anti-Semitic, was revoked at the request of the Department of Homeland Security, spokeswoman Kelly Shannon said.
She cited the Immigration and Nationality Act, part of which deals with aliens who have used a "position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity." Another section denies entry to aliens whose entry may have "potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States."
Shannon did not immediately clarify whether either section applied to Ramadan's case.
"We don't know a reason why either of those should apply to Tariq Ramadan," said Matt Storin, a Notre Dame spokesman. "He's a distinguished scholar. He's a voice for moderation in the Muslim world."
Ramadan has been teaching at the College of Geneva and the University of Fribourg, both in Switzerland, and has gained a popular following among European Muslims in showing how Islamic values such as freedom and tolerance are compatible with those of secular European society.
"In many ways he has defined what it means to be a European Muslim," said Muqtedar Khan, a political scientist at Adrian College in Michigan. "He has essentially tried to bridge the culture gap."
However, terrorism expert Yehudit Barsky of the American Jewish Committee described Ramadan as a Muslim proselytizer who tries to bring legitimacy to Islamic militants.
"We really had hoped the university had exercised more caution in bringing him over here," she said in a recent interview before news of the visa revocation became known.
Notre Dame named Ramadan earlier this year to be its Henry B. Luce professor of religion, conflict and peacebuilding at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.
He was scheduled to begin teaching the class on Tuesday, the first day of classes for the fall semester at Notre Dame. Another professor will teach the class for now, Storin said.
Ramadan remained in Switzerland, and Storin said he would relay to him a message seeking comment.