British-Muslim school teacher refused permission to fly to US

Juhel Miah, who lives in Swansea, said the incident made him feel like a criminal

News Desk February 21, 2017
Juhel Miah was escorted from the aircraft by security personnel. PICTURE: Wales News Service

A British-Muslim schoolteacher was denied entry into the US while traveling with students. Juhel Miah, 25, was travelling with a group of students from Llangatwg Comprehensive in South Wales, where he is said to be a well-respected mathematics teacher.

The group had travelled initially to Iceland on route to New York. Miah boarded the flight in Reykjavik but was escorted from the aircraft by security. He was refused permission to fly, despite valid visa documents.

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Miah, who lives in Swansea, told Wales Online that the incident made him feel like a criminal.

"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," he said.

“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.”

Miah said he was cleared to board the flight, but was then approached by a woman who told him to follow her.

"Everyone was looking at me," he said. "'I've just been informed that you can't board this plane', she said. She wasn't an Icelandic air official —the Icelandic air officials were brilliant."

After being taken off the flight, Miah stated he was taken to a hotel where he had to wait 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. I was so paranoid.

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

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The school trip proceeded as planned, while Miah was booked on a flight back to the UK a day after the incident. Students and colleagues from Miah's school, however, were left shocked and distressed after the maths teacher was escorted from the aircraft by security personnel.

No satisfactory reason was provided to Miah for not allowing him to board the plane to the US and his 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.

The council spokesperson said, "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."

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Trump’s travel ban was unveiled at the end of his first week in office. While the White House insisted that toughening vetting procedures for people coming from countries with terror ties was in line with the security interests of the country, the order caused chaos at airports in the US and sparked protests across the world.

The US embassy in London has not responded to these allegations yet.

This article first appeared in Wales Online.


Shahram | 7 years ago | Reply I just travelled to the U.S. to New York and D.C. from Islamabad on Feb 10th 2017. We were a group of 18 students and teachers attending a Model UN conference in D.C. Despite all we read in the news and the bans, U.S. Immigration officers were extremely courteous and welcoming. Even during our extra security checks at no point did we feel threatened or discriminated against. Landing in the U.S. and spending 12 days in two cities, flying domestic, all we encountered were extremely friendly people who were very welcoming and warm towards us, especially when we said we were from Pakistan.
Jeff | 7 years ago | Reply Perhaps Trump was afraid he would teach the Trumpeters how to be a civilised human being.
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