Tariq Ramadan, Muslim Scholar Formerly Banned From U.S., Returns To Country

06/08/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

NEW YORK — A Muslim scholar who was banned from entering the United States for years has made his first public U.S. appearance since the ban was lifted, saying he looks forward to when he can enter the country without answering questions from authorities on what he plans to speak about.

Tariq Ramadan spoke Thursday alongside other scholars in a panel discussion at The Cooper Union university in Manhattan. They discussed issues facing Muslim-majority countries and Muslims in Europe and the United States.

Ramadan, a 47-year-old professor at Oxford University in England, had planned to move to Indiana to take a tenured teaching job at the University of Notre Dame when his U.S. visa was revoked in 2004.

Authorities said he had donated $1,336 to a charity that gave money to a Palestinian militant group. The American Civil Liberties Union claimed in court that he was being excluded because of his views.

Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, has said he opposes terrorism and Islamic extremism and promotes peaceful solutions. He has criticized the U.S. invasion of Iraq and U.S policies in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

He and another banned scholar, Adam Habib, from the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, were allowed back into the U.S. after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in January signed orders permitting their returns.

The Department of State said when the orders were signed that it wanted to enable the professors to return to encourage a global debate.

Ramadan said Thursday he'll be speaking with scholars in Chicago and Detroit before finishing his trip on Monday in Washington, where he will meet with members of Congress.