LONDON: A British-Muslim schoolteacher was reportedly barred from entering into the US while traveling with his students.
According to press reports, Juhel Miah, 25, was travelling with a group of students from Llangatwg Comprehensive from South Wales.
The student group had travelled initially to Iceland en route New York. Miah boarded the flight in Reykjavik but was escorted from the aircraft by security. He was refused permission to fly, despite valid visa documents.
Miah told Wales Online that the incident made him feel like a criminal.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Miah claimed that though he was cleared to board the flight, but was then immediately approached by a woman who told him to follow her.
“Everyone was looking at me,” he said. “‘I’ve just been informed that you can’t board this plane’, she said. She wasn’t an Icelandic air official —the Icelandic air officials were brilliant.”
After being taken off the flight, Miah said that he was escorted to a local hotel where he was forced to wait for two hours to book 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. I was so paranoid.
“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.”
Neath Port Talbot Council, has written to the US embassy in London demanding an explanation and the issue is being taken up by Welsh politicians.
The council spokesperson said, “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.” The US embassy in London has not responded to these allegations yet.