British math teacher Juhel Miah, who was traveling with his students on a trip to New York, has been denied entry to the United States and singled out for a search because he is Muslim. Miah, who is a British citizen from South Wales, was getting ready to depart from Iceland on February 16 with his students and fellow teachers, but he was taken off the plane he had boarded in Reykjavik.
Even though a U.S. appeals court has decided to suspend Donald Trump’s executive order, which put a temporary ban on U.S. visitors from seven Muslim countries, this British Muslim teacher was still banned from entering the United States despite having valid visa documentation. Students and teachers from Llangatwg comprehensive, located in Aberdulais, were left shocked that Juhel Miah was ejected from the plane.
Juhel Miah has said that after boarding the plane in Iceland, an official approached him and told him that he wouldn’t be able to continue his journey and travel with his students the rest of the way to New York. The British Muslim teacher was left confused and frightened, as the Guardian reports.
Despite being a British citizen with the proper visa documentation, Juhel Miah had been selected for a random security check.
“Everyone was looking at me. As I was getting my luggage the teachers and kids were confused. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I was being escorted out. It made me feel like a criminal. I couldn’t speak, I was lost for words. We got to the airport, and as soon as we got to check in, the lady behind the desk read my passport and then straight away said you’ve been selected for a random security check.”
The British Muslim teacher was escorted to a room where he was told to stand on a stool and then thoroughly checked by two people while others were watching.
“She took me to the room, made me stand on a stool, take my shoes off, jacket off, checked under my foot, got a swab to brush over my hand and bag, my clothing and school hoodie. They gave me the all clear and then I went. The search was about five minutes. There were five or six people in the room, two searched me.”
Despite having undergone a strict and random security check, Juhel Miah was still not allowed to fly with his class from Iceland to New York. He was so frightened by what had happened to him that he didn’t manage to eat or sleep over the next couple of days.
“I was waiting for two hours for a room. It was horrendous. There were holes in the sheets, a dirty bag under the bed, the light wasn’t working and only the lamp was working. My phone battery was dying so I went to my suitcase, and that’s when I realised the padlock was missing. It had gone. I was so paranoid, I was scared, I didn’t sleep or eat for two days.”
— Q. Allan Brocka (@allanbrocka) February 21, 2017
Llangatwg comprehensive booked the British Muslim teacher a return flight back to the UK as Juhel Miah wasn’t allowed to continue his journey to New York. His employer, the Neath Port Talbot council, has since written to the U.S. embassy in London, asking for an explanation as to why Miah was not allowed to continue his journey to New York with the rest of his class. Welsh politicians are also now discussing this issue to determine why this British citizen was banned from visiting the United States.
A Neath Port Talbot council spokesman has issued a public statement describing the incident that took place when Juhel Miah was given a random security check and then forced to leave the plane traveling to the United States, even after he had been screened and despite having all of the visa documentation that was required for his school trip. The council has described this British Muslim teacher as being well respected and very popular, and they cannot understand why he was banned from traveling to New York.
“Juhel Miah was with a party from Llangatwg comprehensive who travelled initially to Iceland en route to New York last week. Mr Miah boarded the onward flight in Reykjavik on 16 February but was escorted from the aircraft by security personnel. While the school trip proceeded as planned, Mr Miah’s removal from the flight left pupils and colleagues shocked and distressed. The local authority understands that Mr Miah was refused permission by the United States authorities to fly to New York, despite being issued with a valid visa for travel. Mr Miah is a popular and respected teacher at Llangatwg comprehensive school. He is a Welsh Muslim.”
The Neath Port Talbot council have also demanded an explanation as to why Juhel Miah was not allowed to visit the embassy to take up the matter there and have suggested that the teacher’s ban from the United States appears to be blatant discrimination because he is Muslim.
“We are appalled by the treatment of Mr Miah and are demanding an explanation. The matter has also been raised with our local MP. No satisfactory reason has been provided for refusing entry to the United States – either at the airport in Iceland or subsequently at the US embassy in Reykjavik. Mr Miah attempted to visit the embassy but was denied access to the building. Understandably he feels belittled and upset at what appears to be an unjustified act of discrimination.”
Current U.K. government advice states that the U.S. government has confirmed that British passport holders are not affected even by the original executive order that Donald Trump signed with regard to his travel ban. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also spoke at the end of January in the House of Commons to affirm that the U.K. government had been given assurances by the U.S. embassy that no British passport holder would be affected by Trump’s travel ban, regardless of their country of birth or if they hold other passports.
BRITISH Muslim schoolteacher denied entry to U.S during school trip. Was escorted off plane despite having a visa. https://t.co/JKyI1wsV1v
— Tahmeena Alam (@tahmeenaalam) February 20, 2017
However, despite U.S. government assurances that U.K. citizens would not be affected by Donald Trump’s initial travel ban and despite the fact that Juhel Miah held only a British passport and had the correct visa documentation, he was still not allowed to visit New York with his class. This casts doubts on the assurances of the United States government that Muslims will still be allowed to visit America.
How do you feel about British Muslim teacher Juhel Miah being denied entry to the United States? Do you agree with the Neath Port Talbot council that this happened due to discrimination?
[Featured Image by Scott Heppel/AP Images]