Tariq Ramadan, the controversial Muslim scholar whose visa to teach in the United States was revoked in August by the federal government, has resigned from the University of Notre Dame post that he was to have taken this past autumn, and now he is without a job.
Mr. Ramadan, a professor of Islamic studies and philosophy, had resigned from Switzerland's University of Fribourg and accepted a tenured position at Notre Dame's Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. He was granted a visa in March to come to the United States.
The appointment drew fire from some pro-Israel activists, who said his support for the Palestinian cause verged into anti-Semitism. Some critics even accused him, without offering evidence, of sympathizing with Islamic extremist groups such as Al Qaeda. Mr. Ramadan has denied all the charges (The Chronicle, September 10).
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security asked the State Department to revoke his visa under the provisions of the USA Patriot Act, a law passed in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Mr. Ramadan, a Swiss citizen who is based in Geneva, later reapplied for a visa and had been waiting to see whether he would be granted a new one.
Notre Dame announced on Tuesday that Mr. Ramadan had resigned his faculty appointment. The decision was a difficult one, Mr. Ramadan said in a telephone interview from Geneva, but one that he had to make for his family's sake.
Mr. Ramadan and his wife have four children, ages 18, 16, 13, and 3. "The situation has been very difficult for the whole family," he said on Tuesday. "It has been a very long five months. I was expecting something after applying again two months ago. The deadline we decided with the family was December. We are in the middle of the academic year. and we had to take a decision."
The family's possessions were shipped to the United States earlier this year, in anticipation of the Ramadans' move to South Bend, Ind., and for the past several months the family has been in limbo, awaiting word of Mr. Ramadan's visa. "Nothing is moving in the U.S. administration," he said, explaining that the family could not afford to wait any longer.
Notre Dame officials have supported his decision, Mr. Ramadan said. "They are very sad, but they understand that I had to take this decision because of my family."
R. Scott Appleby, the Kroc Institute's director, expressed his disappointment in a written statement. "Faculty and students at Notre Dame and at other U.S. universities were looking forward to engaging [Professor Ramadan] productively on a variety of issues central to our times," he said. "Such dialogue, we believe, is an essential requirement to a deeper understanding of the complexity of the Muslim world."
Mr. Ramadan said that although he had given up on the possibility of teaching this year at Notre Dame, he still expects to be cleared of all the allegations made by the United States government. "I know that my file is empty," he said. "They promised to treat me fairly, and that is what I am expecting from them -- to be treated fairly and with dignity."
Notre Dame officials "are doing what they can to find a way for me to end this academic year with dignity," Mr. Ramadan said. For now, though, "I am going to look for a job."