Buzz

US Deports Palestinian Harvard Freshman After Religious Interrogation at Airport

mm
US Deports Palestinian Harvard Freshman After Religious Interrogation at Airport

Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts (photo: iStock)

A Palestinian incoming Harvard student was deported at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) last Friday and his visa was revoked, the Harvard Crimson reports.

17-year-old Ismail B. Ajjawi, a Palestinian resident of Tyre, Lebanon, is slated to start school at Harvard College on Tuesday September 3rd, but upon landing in Boston on Friday night, immigration officers at BOS held him in custody for eight hours, during which he was interrogated on his religious views and had his phone and computer confiscated and inspected.

Soon after, an officer informed him that his student visa had been revoked and that he was facing deportation.

“When I asked every time to have my phone back so I could tell [someone] about the situation, the officer refused and told me to sit back in [my] position and not move at all,” Ajjawi wrote in a statement, according to Slate. “After the 5 hours ended, she called me into a room, and she started screaming at me. She said that she found people posting political points of view that oppose the US on my friend[s] list.”

Ajjawi remained in custody even after other international students who were being interrogated alongside him were released. The Harvard freshman also claims that the officer questioned him on his religious practices back in Lebanon. “The same officer then asked him to unlock his phone and laptop, and left to search them for roughly five hours, Ajjawi alleges. After the search, the officer questioned him about his friends’ social media activity,” according to the Crimson.

“I have no single post on my timeline discussing politics,” Ajjawi wrote in a statement. “I responded that I have no business with such posts and that I didn’t like, [s]hare, or comment on them, and told her that I shouldn’t be held responsible for what others post.”

Ajjawi, who is currently back in Lebanon, was the recipient of a scholarship from AMIDEAST, an educational NGO that operates across the Arab world. Both AMIDEAST and Harvard University are reportedly making every effort on his behalf to resolve the issue with the State Department. However, in a statement to the Crimson, U. S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Michael S. McCarthy wrote: “Applicants must demonstrate they are admissible into the U.S. by overcoming ALL grounds of inadmissibility including health-related grounds, criminality, security reasons, public charge, labor certification, illegal entrants and immigration violations, documentation requirements, and miscellaneous grounds,” adding that Ajjawi was found inadmissible based on confidential information pertaining to his visa records.

Egyptian Wildlife Rehabilitator Mai Gawad Attends US State Department's Anti-Wildlife Trafficking Program
Lawyers Call for Musicians Syndicate to Ban Mohamed Ramadan From Performing

Subscribe to our newsletter


Buzz
mm
@NiveenIshmael

Niveen Ghoneim is a Cairo-based writer, researcher and journalist. Her work has been published in Cairo Scene, Scene Arabia, Startup Scene, Scene Noise and Safareya. She has helped launch two regional magazines and coedited two of Egypt's most popular digital publications. Her reporting is largely focused on issues of social justice, cultural representation and documenting human rights violations.

More in Buzz

In Vogue: The Revival of Arab Women’s 90s Lip Liner Look

Mirna Abdulaal30 September 2022

These 4 Laws in Egypt Must Change: Activists

Shereif Barakat26 September 2022

Egypt Sets Sights on Hosting 2036 Olympics

Shereif Barakat25 September 2022

Never Show Up Emtpy-Handed: What To Bring to an Egyptian Dinner Party

Amina Zaineldine25 September 2022

Good vs. Evil: Are There Two North Coasts in Egypt?

Amina Zaineldine24 September 2022

Egypt’s Bernie Madoff: The Story of Ahmed Al-Rayan

Shereif Barakat22 September 2022

Egypt Reawakens Curiosity on Ancient Treasures Through New Campaigns

Egyptian Streets19 September 2022

Walkable Cairo: Where to Take Your Mental and Physical Health for a Stroll

Farah Rafik18 September 2022