London: A 25-year-old Bangladeshi-origin British Muslim teacher travelling on a school trip from Iceland to New York was allegedly denied entry to the US despite a valid visa, an incident that left his students “shocked and distressed”.
Juhel Miah and a group of children and other teachers were about to take off from Reykjavik on February 16 on their way to the US when he was removed from the plane.
Just a week before the incident, a US appeals court had upheld a decision to suspend President Donald Trump’s executive order that temporarily banned entry to the country from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Miah was travelling with a group from Llangatwg Comprehensive in Port Talbot on a trip to New York when he was removed from the aircraft in Reykjavik.
He was quoted as saying that he had his luggage taken from him and was forced to stay in an “horrendous hotel” before school officials booked him on a flight back to the UK.
“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,” Miah said.
“They gave me the all clear and then I went. The search was about five minutes at least. There were five or six people in the room, two searched me,” he said.
Miah said he was cleared to board the flight before he was approached by a woman who told him to follow her.
“Everyone was looking at me. ‘I’ve just been informed that you can’t board this plane’, she said’,” Miah said.
He said he visited both the US and British embassies in Reykjavik. He returned on a flight back to the UK a day later.
The school trip proceeded as planned but Miah said the incident left pupils and colleagues “shocked and distressed”.
Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council has written to the US Embassy here to express its dismay at the treatment of one of its employees.
Trump’s order had temporarily suspended all travel to the US for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya for 90 days.