It is with regret that I submitted to the University of Notre Dame my letter of resignation on December 13th, 2004 from both my positions as Professor of Islamic Studies in the Classics Department and as the Henry R. Luce Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peace Building.
After being granted a work visa by the United States government on May 5th, 2004, it was suddenly and without explanation revoked on July 28th under the legal guise of the U.S. Patriot Act. There was worldwide condemnation of this decision.
The U.S. Administration, notably Secretary of State, Colin Powell, confirmed that my case would be re-evaluated and I was asked to resubmit a new work visa application (H1), which I did on October 4th 2004.
I was told that a decision would be imminent so my family and I decided that we would wait until December to decide on a course of action. Two months have since passed and I have not received any information, additional responses or any clear indication that a decision is forthcoming from the U.S. government.
The last contact between the University of Notre Dame and the State Department revealed, to the contrary, that no decision would be made in the near future.
In effect, my case has simply been ignored.
For my family and myself, waiting longer was not possible. The uncertainty, the psychological tension, as well as the schooling for my children and the fact that all our personal belongings were in South Bend, Indiana, made it absolutely crucial to make this very difficult and heart wrenching decision.
The faculty of the University of Notre Dame, who wholly supported me during this difficult period, has expressed their sadness and regrets on hearing of my resignation. They had always expressed their bewilderment at the U.S. Administration’s utter silence and attitude towards this issue.
If there existed any questionable elements in my file during these last 5 months, they would have surely been produced today to demonstrate any lack of transparency on my part.
Silence remains and proof is lacking.
I know that there is nothing in my file that would justify this treatment. It is a classic case of infringement on academic freedom. The revocation of my work visa remains an inexplicable and unjust decision.
Regardless of the decision I have taken today, I am still waiting for the U.S. Administration to reveal the results of their investigation so that my name can be cleared of all the untrue and humiliating accusations made against me during these last few months
I would like to thank the University of Notre Dame for their courage and determination to unequivocally defend the principal of academic freedom of expression and who, till the end, refused to be swayed by prejudgments, mistruths and suspicions.
I would also like to thank the dozens of universities and social organizations, as well as all the intellectuals, ordinary people and journalists who demanded that academic freedom be upheld, even if they didn’t always agree with my ideas. They represent the dignity of the United States. It is they who are promoting pluralism and democratic debate. The U.S. Administration, on the other hand, is unfortunately demonstrating each day signs of a rapid descent into a closed and worrisome unilaterism.
In the United States, I had wished to participate in the urgent and pressing debates within the world of Islam and Muslims. An unjust decision does not bar me from continuing this imperative struggle for dialogue and understanding between women and men and between religions and cultures.