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British Muslim Teacher Denied Entry to US

WALES – The removal of a British Muslim schoolteacher from a plane enroute to New York last week has left his students in shock, despite the current court suspension of President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

“Everyone was looking at me,” Juhel Miah, from south Wales, told Wales Online.

“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.”

Miah and a group of children and other 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, Iceland.

Though the trip proceeded as planned at first, 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.

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“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.”

He was taken to a hotel. “I was waiting for two hours for 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.

“My phone battery was dying so I went to my suitcase, and that’s when I realized the padlock was missing. It had gone. I was so paranoid, I was scared, I didn’t sleep or eat for two days.”

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.

The teacher’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.

Unjustified Discrimination

A council spokesman said 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.

“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 spokesman said.

“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.”