Travel advisory issued for U.S. Muslims
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today issued a travel advisory for American Muslims who may face harassment or denial of entry when returning to the United States from travel abroad.
The Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group issued that advisory following an incident in which a Chicago-area Muslim activist was prevented from returning to this country after visiting his family in Jordan. Sabri Samirah, president of the United Muslim Americans Association in Palos Hills, says he was barred from returning to Chicago last weekend when Irish officials cited an INS fax revoking his permission to leave the country. Samirah says he had been assured of his right to return by the INS.
In a similar incident, the Hartford Courant reported yesterday that an Iranian graduate student at a university in Connecticut has been stranded in Canada for months after he traveled there to visit relatives.
The advisory also comes at a time when thousands of American Muslims are traveling to Saudi Arabia for the annual Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. The pilgrims will return in the second half of February, and may face similar treatment by immigration authorities. CAIR officials say they have received a number of complaints of ill-treatment of Muslims and Arabs entering this country following the implementation of the INS’ so-called “special registration” program that targets visitors from Islamic countries.
The group’s travel advisory reads in part: “The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reminds Muslims living in the United States who are not citizens or do not have permanent resident status that they are at risk of harsh and humiliating treatment by immigration authorities when returning to America from travel abroad. Muslim travelers are also at risk of being barred from entering the United States based on allegations or suspicions that need not be revealed by law enforcement authorities.
“It is recommended that all non-emergency travel abroad be postponed. Anyone who must travel, and experiences what they believe to be harsh or discriminatory treatment by INS officials, should file an incident report with CAIR. Report forms are available for download at: http://www.cair-net.org/ireport/Incident_Report.doc, or by calling 202-488-8787. Pilgrims returning from Hajj are advised to inform friends and relatives of their travel itinerary so that inquiries can be made if an incident occurs on the return leg of the journey.”