updated 1/25/2006 11:25:30 AM ET 2006-01-25T16:25:30

The ACLU sued the federal government Wednesday for blocking a Muslim scholar from entering the United States, arguing that the government should not use anti-terrorism laws as “instruments of censorship.”

The lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in U.S. District Court sought to open the way for Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss intellectual and Muslim scholar, to accept invitations to speak to audiences in the United States.

Ramadan was blocked from accepting a tenured teaching position at the University of Notre Dame when his visa was revoked in August 2004 because of a provision of the Patriot Act, said Jameel Jaffer, an ACLU staff attorney.

Jaffer said the provision blocks entry into the United States by any prominent alien who has used his status to endorse or espouse terrorism or to persuade others to endorse or espouse terrorist activity.

“We don’t think there’s any evidence at all that he has endorsed terrorism,” Jaffer said. “In fact, there is overwhelming evidence that he has condemned terrorism.”

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