A well respected British Muslim school teacher traveling with his students to New York last week as a member of a school party from south Wales was denied entry to the United States.
Juhel Miah, a group of students and other teachers were traveling from Llangatwg Comprehensive in Aberdulais, Neath Port Talbot, South Wales and were about to take off from Iceland on 16 February on their way to the US when he was removed from the plane at Reykjavik.
The trip proceeded as planned but pupils and colleagues from Llangatwg comprehensive in Aberdulais were left shocked and distressed after the maths teacher, who had valid visa documentation, was escorted from the aircraft by security personnel.
The previous week, on the 10 February, a US appeals court had upheld a decision to suspend Donald Trump’s executive order that temporarily banned entry to the country from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Miah, 25, from Swansea, said he was made to feel like a criminal and was so worried by what happened to him that he did not eat or sleep for two days. He told Wales Online that shortly before the flight was due to leave he was approached by an official who told him he could not board the plane.
“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.
“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.”
A spokesman for Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council said the trip proceeded as planned but pupils and colleagues were left “shocked and distressed” after the “popular and respected” British Muslim school teacher was escorted from the aircraft by security personnel.
The council has written to the US Embassy in London to express its dismay at the treatment of one of its employees and said it understood that the British Muslim School teacher was refused permission by the United States authorities to fly to New York, despite being issued with a valid visa for travel.
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.
The British Muslim school teacher attempted to visit the embassy but was denied access to the building.
Trump’s executive order was put into practice the first week after he was sworn in as President of the United States.
In its original form, the order temporarily suspended all travel to the US for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days.
The order was, however, put on hold by the courts and a revised version has not yet been signed though it is understood from a draft that the same seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya – will be targeted in it.