Middle East Digest - January 20, 2010

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Washington, DC
January 20, 2010

The Middle East Digest provides text and audio from the Daily Press Briefing. For the full briefings, please visit daily press briefings.

From the Daily Press Briefing of January 20, 2010

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QUESTION: Okay, I misheard. The second one – Tariq Ramadan visa, he is allowed to apply for one now; is that so? Also Adam Habib? What’s the rationale and would he be granted a visa if he applied?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, the Secretary of State signed an exemption for Tariq Ramadan and Adam Habib. Her authority comes from Section 212(d)(3)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. With those exemptions in place, the next time Professor Ramadan or Professor Habib applies for a visa, he will not be found inadmissible on the basis of the facts that led to denial when he last applied. Good guidance done by a good lawyer. (Laughter.)

Without going into very specifics on visa applications, I think the Secretary’s view is that these individuals who have applied for visas in the past – and they have been denied in the past – as we look at it, we do not think that either one of them represents a threat to the United States. And now, should they apply for a visa, they will still be subject to the other standards that apply to anyone who applies for a visa to come to the United States. But in the Secretary’s judgment, and consistent with President Obama’s outreach to the – to Muslims around the world, we want to encourage a global debate. We want to have the opportunity potentially to have Islamic scholars come to the United States and have dialogue with other faith communities and people here in our country.

QUESTION: Just because the – your wording was so precise there, I just want to make sure that – so you’re saying those two grounds for which they were denied no longer apply?

MR. CROWLEY: We – I mean, well – yes.

QUESTION: But does the U.S. Government have any reason to believe that if they applied now, they would not get a visa?

MR. CROWLEY: We – I would flip that around. If they apply for a visa in the future, we will evaluate that visa on all of the – based on all of the criteria for entering the United States, with the exception of this particular section.