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Ben Zand
Flew to the US for the first time in a while yesterday, and what fun it was.
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Ben Zand 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
Was actually recognised by face by US customs officials walking through Frankfurt airport, and then questioned about my “Iranian roots”
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Ben Zand 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
Even though my passport mentions nothing about Iranian roots. Then I was asked about my trips to MENA. Then the guy told me he liked kebabs.
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Ben Zand 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
He then told me he also likes Argentinian steak. I nodded in agreement at both of their deliciousnesses but also slight confusion.
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Ben Zand 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
Then a woman from customs came and told me she was also Iranian. And I said, “oh wow that’s cool, I’m actually from Liverpool”
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Ben Zand 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
Then I was sent to have all of my stuff bomb swabbed and sent down a special line to board the plane full of other suspicious characters.
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Ben Zand 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
Then when I got to Houston airport I was taken away to a little detention area to be questioned again.
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Ben Zand 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
The guy told me that I shouldn't feel too bad because it's just the "algorithms" & I just fit the characteristics of a "potential bad guy".
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Ben Zand 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
Then he said they're told to stop people who look Arabic or Persian, or have an Arabic or Persian sounding name.
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Ben Zand 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
Then he said he wouldn't have stopped me if it was his choice as I work for the BBC, and he was going to try and watch my stuff on youtube.
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Ben Zand 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
Then he made a joke about how he probably wouldn't recognise me on YouTube as I'd proabably have my hair and make up done on camera.
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Ben Zand 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
Then I lol’d in a way that you lol when you’ve been flying for 20 hours and someone says a joke that isn’t funny.
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Ben Zand 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
Then they lost my boarding pass but let me go, then I sprinted to the gate, got a new one and just about made connecting flight.
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Ben Zand 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
All this and I’ve got a valid US journalist visa in my British passport that mentions nothing about Iran. A nice welcome to America.
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Ben Zand 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
In better news I was eventually considered not to be a direct threat to American freedom & have now taken over a house in Austin for SXSW.
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Owen Williams 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿🇪🇺 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
Ahh mate, that's crap. Hope the rest of your trip passes without incident.
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era b. 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
Ugh, sorry you had to go through that Ben 😒😔 What a hassle. I hope the rest of your time here is more pleasant.
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Nicola 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
Jesus. Terrible. Considering my trip to MENA and a husband that definitely 'looks Arabic' I'll trust my gut and steer clear
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Faruq 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
annoying ain't it, when people justify their actions because it's their "job"
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shannon 11 Mar 17
Replying to @BenjaminZand
I'm sorry you were mistreated. It's dehumanizing & made worse by casually trying to "relate" to you. Safe travels.
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