Jammu Kashmir: Muslim-wide US ban as Indian Muslim athletes barred

1st Feb 2017
Jammu Kashmir: Muslim-wide US ban as Indian Muslim athletes barred

By Zahid Rafiq

 

SRINAGAR, Jammu Kashmir (AA): Two Indian Muslim athletes were denied visas to the U.S. on Tuesday in the wake of President Donald Trump’s entry ban on people from seven Muslim states.

Abid Khan and Tanveer Hussain, from the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir, are Indian passport holders. India is not on the list of banned nations.

They had been invited to the U.S. for the World Snowshoe Championship at Saranac Lake, New York state, next month.

The pair, who have not previously visited the U.S., said they attended the U.S. embassy in New Delhi to apply for visas to represent India in snowshoe races.

“I had all my documents but after scanning through them, some of the officials went into a separate area where they had a conversation,” Hussain, 24, told Anadolu Agency.

“Then I was informed that I couldn’t be given the visa this time because of the current visa policy in their country.”

He added: “I represented India in Italy in 2016 and I stood at the 31st position out of the 500 contestants. I was sure of putting in a much more spirited performance this time in New York. I have put in a lot of hard work for the competition.”

Their treatment raised suspicions that the U.S. ban does not only apply to the seven states named at the weekend — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Sudan — but to Muslims in general.

“I am not from Syria or Iraq or Somalia but from Kashmir and have an Indian passport,” Hussain said.

“But they stopped me because I am a Muslim. I think that this is a ban on Muslims and not on particular nationalities.”

In a Facebook post to Saranac Lake Mayor Clyde Rabideau, Khan claimed their paperwork had been in order, including “local government sponsorship, federation, your support letter, my financial background.”

He added: “The lady officer at U.S. embassy in New Delhi, after checking all docs, just went inside into another room. After returning she said ‘Sorry, due to our current policy we can’t issue you visa’.”

Rabideau promised to help with the visa and said: “This will not stand.”

Trump signed an executive order Friday barring the nationals of seven countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days and suspended the admission of all refugees for 120 days. The order indefinitely bans entry for Syrian refugees.

[Archive Photo: Kashmiri Muslim women pray outside Grand Mosque in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India. Photographer: Faisal Khan/AA]

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