A young British Muslim teacher was pulled off a flight to New York on February 16 while the students he was escorting on a school trip watched in shock and distress.
Juhel Miah, a math teacher born in Birmingham, England, and brought up in Swansea, Wales, was part traveling to the U.S. via Iceland with a group from Llangatwg Comprehensive School.
The group of five adults and 39 students arrived safely in Reykjavik and enjoyed their stay there, but trouble started when they prepared to board the flight to New York.
As Miah told The Guardian: “I gave one of the American officials there my passport. My first name is Mohammed. It felt as if straight away she looked up and said: ‘You’ve been randomly selected for a security check.’”
Eventually he was allowed to leave and board the plane, but after getting the eight boys in his charge settled down, he looked up to see an American official coming toward him.
“You Are Not Allowed To Be On This Plane”
Miah stated: “She asked: ‘Are you Mohammed Miah? You need to come with me.’ She took me to the front of the plane and escorted me off. She said: ‘I’ve just received a phone call. You are not allowed to go to New York and you are not allowed to be on this plane.’”
Protesting that he was a British citizen with a valid visa, he asked for an explanation, but was given none.
He visited the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik and after being given three phone numbers that didn’t work, his school arranged to fly him back to the U.K.
“This shouldn’t happen to anyone,” the 25-year-old said to The Guardian. “I’ve followed all the procedures. I’ve ticked all the right boxes yet they made me feel like a criminal. I’ve got no criminal record, I’ve never been in trouble. I was in shock, I couldn’t believe it was happening. I felt powerless, as if I was being targeted and there was nothing I could do.
“No one could give me an explanation. The only thing I can put it down to unfortunately – I hope I’m wrong – is because I’m a Muslim.”
Miah is still waiting for an explanation and an apology.
There Is No Muslim Ban?
This appalling incident took place a week after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a temporary suspension of Trump’s executive order restricting travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations.
Trump issued the order, which placed a 90-day pause on immigrants from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Sudan, on January 27. The order also imposed a 120-day block on all refugees, and an indefinite block on refugees from Syria, and resulted in major chaos and confusion in airports around the world.
So why did this happen, if this ban has been lifted? And since Miah isn’t even from any of the countries on the list?
While the reasoning behind Miah’s case is still unclear, it mirrors a growing fear and aggression toward Muslims around the world.
Growth Of Anti-Muslim Activity
As I noted last week, the number of anti-Muslim hate groups in the U.S. grew from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year.
At the same time, the F.B.I. reported a 67 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in 2015, the most recent year for which the agency has statistics. 2015 was also the year that Trump launched his campaign, which promoted a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the U.S. In that year, 257 anti-Muslim episodes were reported to the police. That’s the highest number since 2001, when the 9/11 terrorist attacks led to more than 480 hate crimes.
Meanwhile, Trump is getting a taste of his own medicine from the U.K. On February 20, as thousands of people outside Parliament protested a visit from Donald Trump, British lawmakers conducted a rowdy debate on the topic of whether to deny him a formal state visit because, in the eyes of over 1.8 million Brits in an online petition, it would “cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the queen.”
By: Judy M