Friday, 24 September 2021

British-Pakistani man denied US visa

British-Pakistani SYED

LONDON: US authorities have denied issuing visa to a British-Pakistani man because of visiting Iraq, one of the seven states the Trump administration had sought to have immigrants and travelers banned from. Syed Nasir Abbas Jafri, 57, who lives in Northampton, applied for US visa to visit relatives and participate in a religious event in Los Angeles and Atlanta earlier this year. “I’ve been to the US quite a few times before so I know that normally the approval is made through ESTA, an online application system for British nationals but this wasn’t the case this time, as instead I was asked to make an appointment for the interview with the US embassy in London,” says Jafri, who’s also the Secretary General of a UK-based organisation called AGHA (Anjuman-e-Ghulaman-e- Abbas). But when he went for the interview, he says he was asked only a single question “Why did you visit Iraq?” “I explained it to them that I went to participate in a religious event called Arbaeen (Chehlum) procession in Karbala which takes place every year and Muslims from all over the world go there and that’s it,” the man says. He was told to check his application status online (DS-160). “I checked it almost every day for nearly a month, but after a month it was refused. I wasn’t told about any reason nor was I given any right of appeal”. Nasir says that this hasn’t only happened with him but he knows many other people too who have been denied visa after the interview. “They didn’t ask about any personal circumstances, financial or employment status but just a single question ‘Why did you visit Iraq?’ and normally the answer is that we went for Ziarat.”

After the interview everyone is told to check the status online, but after a few weeks the answer is same “refused” without any reason being told, Jafri says. “This has been happening since Donald Trump has become the president and announced that people who come from or visit to seven Muslim countries won’t be allowed entry in the US. “These new regulations have been affecting Muslims, not only from the UK but around the world as they do visit Syria, Iraq and Iran for religious pilgrimage to holy cities like Karbala, Najaf, Baghdad, Damascus and Mashad.” He says, “This has been going on for the last 14 centuries that Muslims, no matter what sect they belong to, visit these places to participate in religious events and visit the holy sites to pay their respect. There are no political or other motives behind these visits. People don’t go there to participate in local politics as well, but the only reason for them is to visit the shrines of holy figures of Islam and go back to their respective countries.” Nasir Abbas Jafri speaks further that this situation is very disheartening for people who visit these countries and also want to visit their loved ones in the US afterwards. Yet they are refused visa which never happened before Trump assumed the office of US president. “It seems there’s no democracy left in the US, but a dictatorship.” He adds that their organisation has branches all over UK and they are planning to stage protests using that platform. “Not only we will write a letter to raise this issue with the local members of the parliament but also with the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), and with the US ambassador in London for this is affecting the entire Muslim community in UK.”

Check Also

UN warns of worst ‘cascade of human rights setbacks in our lifetimes’

Refugees who fled the conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region ride a bus going to the ...