British Muslim teacher refused entry to the US during school trip

A Muslim schoolteacher from Wales was denied entry to the US last week during a school party trip to New York.

Juhel Miah and a group of children and teachers 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 25-year-old teacher from Swansea, said he was made to feel like a criminal and was 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.

 

Mr Miah’s employer, 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.

A council spokesman said Mr Miah was left feeling belittled at what it described as “an unjustified act of discrimination”. The council said the teacher is a British citizen and does not have dual nationality.

The spokesman said: “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.

“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.”

Neath Port Talbot council pointed out that UK government advice states: “We have confirmed with the US government that British passport holders (regardless of country of birth or whether they hold another passport/nationality) aren’t affected by the executive order.”

It also drew attention to a statement made by the foreign secretary Boris Johnson at the end of last month in the House of Commons, when he said: “We have received assurances from the US embassy that the executive order will make no difference to any British passport holder, irrespective of their country of birth or whether they hold another passport.”

The council said Mr Miah’s experience casts serious doubts on whether either of the statements could be taken seriously.

The Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We are providing support to a British man who was prevented from boarding a flight in Reykjavik.”

There was no response from the US embassy in London.

This video footage was cross-posted from the BBC World News YouTube channel.

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