• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Another Brilliant Visa Decision

Some say that the refusal of the US authorities to grant Swiss scholar Tariq Ramadan a work visa shows that there must be some secret evidence that he’s a terrorist supporter (since not even Daniel Pipes could pin anything of any substance on him). It couldn’t possibly be because a) US authorities just discriminate against Arabs and Muslims willy-nilly and/or b) there’s nothing more alarming for the pro-Likud crowd than a prominent Arab Muslim moderate, since such a person undermines their “argument” that any Arab complaints about Israel are based on fanatical anti-Semitism.

But now word comes about the arrest in Syria last month of Nabil Fayyad, a prominent liberal. According to a website highlighting his case:

Fayyad, a chemist by trade and owner of a pharmacy in Damascus, is a Sunni Muslim scholar and linguist who studied theology in Beirut. He has authored a number of books and written extensively about the growing power of Islamic fundamentalism in Syria. He is also an advocate for liberalism, tolerance and individual rights and freedoms.

Perhaps the kind of person the US ought to be consulting? Nope:

Fayyad was planning to visit the United States in September to give lectures about the growing influence of Islamic fundamentalism in Syria but ironically his request for a visa was denied by the U.S. Embassy in Damascus. The reason for the denial of a visa is unknown, but it may have unfortunately emboldened the Syrian government in arresting him without fear of a significant outcry.

Well, suggestion “a” in my first paragraph seems to me to be the most likely reason. The authorship of this article is anonymous, but it seems to be the work of Bassam Darwich, who offered similar sentiments to Joshua Landis. Darwich edits Annaqed, which hosts some of Fayyad’s articles (Alas, Darwich also feels the need to link to various inflammatory anti-Muslim websites and to host articles by one-note demagogues like Pipes and Joseph Farah).

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