here, there, everywhere


In U.S. on September 4, 2008 at 12:02 am

I flew down to San Francisco last week to start my holidays.  I try to give myself a little extra time to make it through immigration these days since the Americans take great interest in my Syrian visa.  And sure enough, they liked it so much this time I got taken aside for questioning.  I got my passport stamped by unhappy guy, who was actually flagging everybody who went through judging by the number of people going to Room 2.  They all passed through in 30 seconds, I got to stay for questioning by two officials for about 10 minutes.  Here’s the abbreviated version:

Them:  Syria, whoa!!  What for?
Me:  Learn the language
Them:  Why?  Why arabic?  Why not here?
Me:  Can’t learn it here, easier and cheaper there.  Syria’s nice, has sun, nice people, no other tourists.
Them:  Study at a mosque?
Me:  No, Damascus University.
Them:  That a private place?
Me:  No, it’s a government funded university.
Them:  What’s it called again?
Me:  Damascus University, think of Dam U if it helps you to remember it.
Them:  blah blah blah…  Would you go back?  Afraid of being kidnapped???

Me:   ???  blah blah blah
Them and Me:  blah blah inane blah blah stereotypes blah blah blah for 8 more minutes
Them:  K, stay here.

Guy #1 takes my passport behind some door with one-way glass.  Comes back 10 minutes later.

Guy #1:  Do you know why we questioned you?
Me:  Syria’s a hostile country?
Guy #1:  No no no (laughing).  We were afraid you converted to Islam or something.

Yes, oh yes they can say that.  Not sure what the fear is though.  Maybe converting to islam automatically makes someone a bad guy?  Nice to see we don’t easily give up erroneous pre-conceived notions.

For the record, entry into Canada took less than a minute.  Immigration guy looked at my picture, asked me how my trip was, and waved me through.  O Canada…

  1. but you, chiu chiu, are so friggin’ cute! such a shame you have to hide part of your identity just because it causes you hassle.

  2. Us Muslims are evil. All of us!Your experience is why I removed my Muslim middle name from my passport. I guess it “helps” that I look more like a nice little “Oriental” girl than someone people associate with Islam.

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