Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Fortress America
It turns out that the singer Yusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens was denied entry to the United States because of a simple spelling mistake on the part of federal officials, who thought Stevens was Youssouf Islam. The funny thing about this is that the neocon Weekly Standard has already published articles justifying the banning of Cat Stevens, like this one from Stephen Schwartz. The burning question is: Who is the next famous personality who will be banned due to a spelling error and whose banning subsequently justified in the pages of The Weekly Standard ?. Some suspicious candidates come to mind: Amartya Sen, Arundhati Roy, Sting, Gabriel Garcia Marquez....

Last month, the Swiss Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan's visa was also revoked, preventing him from assuming a temporary position as a guest lecturer at the Kroc Institute for Peace Studies at Notre Dame. What was ironic about this was that, as Scoot Marten pointed out in his blog, Ramadan is the closest person America could get to "a Islamic intellectual figure who is likely to be more acceptable as the other side in an American dialogue with Islam."

Earlier this year, the novelist Ian McEwan, flying from Canada, was detained for hours by American airport personnel. What McEwan found infinitely frustrating was that he was sitting next to a money launderer with a suitcase full of cash. Never mind that McEwan happens to be one of Laura Bush's favorite writers. In Fortress America, NO ONE is beyond suspicion.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi...closer to hoome, the Cotabato public intellectual Abu Syed Lingga was also refused entry in San Francisco airport a couple of months ago. Lingga was invited by the US Institute for Peace to a panel on Mindanao. Lingga was told he could appeal, but preferred to sleep overnight in the Immigration office and take the first flight back to Manila the next day. He surmised that since he was not welcome in America, there was no reason to try the appeal's process. An embarrassed USIP and State Department apologized to Lingga and he was allowed to the US again early this month to be part of this touring panel on the Peace Process in Mindanao.

Ronnel said...

Talaga? I heard him speak in Midsayap about two years ago. Tsk tsk.

Anonymous said...

Yup, probably the smartest Maguindanao intellectual at present. He argues the MILF's position very well and his single message -- a referendum to resolve the autonomy/separatism issue in Muslim MIndanao -- makes one step and say, "Oo nga ano, bakit hindi?"