Does America need to treat visitors with more respect?

Shah Rukh Khan was detained at Newark airport in New Jersey for between 1-2 hours, he was only released when the Indian embassy got involved, and he’s made it pretty clear he was less than impressed with his treatment.

AP reports that US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection is saying it was part of routine screening.

 The US shouldn’t become xenophobic and paranoiac due to 9/11 attacks. Visitors shouldn’t be suspected just because of their look or name. They too should get ready for any treatment they can receive in the land of the free as long as they are willing to be there.

 The US is already imposing draconian measures on nationals from different Arab and Muslim countries. It warns its nationals, from time to time ,not to visit certain countries only if it is imperatives. People wishing to visit the USA who feel they can be subjected to “humiliating” screening” shouldn’t come unless it is imperative. For tourism, there are many breath-taking areas around the world where visitors are welcome as long as they have valid travelling documents.

The US has the right to open or close its doors to whomever it wants. People who are sensitive about their dignity should avoid it as long as they feel unwelcome.

 Last year, a former Moroccan minister who is also a close friend of the King of Morocco was detained at Charle De Gaulle airport because he was travelling with an ordinary passport. When he told the custom officers who he was, they grew even more suspicious of him. It was only when he contacted the Moroccan embassy that they released him and subsequently received an apology  from the French interior minister.

 There was also the story of a Moroccan baby who was refused entry to the USA two years ago because of the name he bore was on the watch-list. It was only after legal action that he was allowed to join his Moroccan parents.

 In short, there are curious and nasty incidents not only in US airports but in others in so many countries around the world.

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3 Comments

  1. August 18, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    The US treats its own citizens like crap when they re-enter the country from Muslim countries too, regardless of skin color. I’ve been detained plenty of times, and longer than Sharukh Khan.

    Regardless, it’s absolutely ridiculous, and I agree – refuse anyone entry, but treat them with dignity.

    (That said, having read Laila Haddad’s recent ordeal in the Cairo airport, I can say with certainty that it isn’t just the US!)

  2. August 18, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Oh, I wanted to add – I’d take the US’s practices any day over Morocco’s. If you violate your visa restrictions or stay beyond the length of your visa in most countries (including the US), you’re deported and perhaps even banned from re-entry.

    If you overstay your visa in Morocco, however, you’re detained IN MOROCCO. How absurd! I was once detained at the airport when it was actually the fault of my local police office, which had taken over three months to provide my carte de sejour (despite my providing everything to them in a timely fashion).

  3. August 19, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks Jillian for sharing your thoughts and experiences both in the US and Morocco. As I mentioned above, some controversial measures aren’t unique to the USA, they can be found in any country. What is important is not to hurt travellers’ dignity.


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