GEORGIAN CUSTOMS OFFICERS ARE ISLAMOPHOBES
If you have read this blog post “I Was Denied Entry to Georgia”, you already know about my experience with this country. At the SARPI Turkey-Georgia border, I was harassed by Georgian customs officers because of my religion and Muslim appearance (I have a beard and a classic Middle Eastern appearance). After tons of questions regarding the cash in my pockets, the duration of my stay in Georgia, and international health insurance, I was denied entry to Georgia. While this was happening, I saw dozens of foreigners and backpackers comfortably passing the border without any interrogations.
Finally, I received official papers denying me from entering Georgia. I wasn’t too disappointed because I had great journeys and adventures in the South of Turkey. I wouldn’t exchange them for a trip to Georgia. At the same time, this harassment insulted me.
Later, when I came home, I started reading stories of tourists and travelers who were also denied entry to Georgia at land borders and in Georgian airports. All of these people were Muslims predominantly from Middle Eastern countries. Most stories were the same. Their passports were taken down, and then, customs officers started interrogating them. After long and annoying questions, they received rejection stamps on their passports. The causes of rejections were unclear.
I decided that this Islamophobic problem must be heard. If not resolved, people must be aware that Georgian customs officers demonstrate and practice blatant Islamophobia and deny entry to Muslims at land borders and in airports. Here is a compilation of stories that will prove to you my point of view.
Read this article “Georgia denies entry to British women ‘because of her birthplace”.
This is a story of a British citizen who was originally born in Iran. The woman arrived at Tbilisi airport, and the airport customs officials denied her entry to Georgia.
“The police officer escorting Leila refused to return her passport and the official notice for her denial of entry until she had boarded the plane — and even then he only gave the documents to the flight attendant.”
Here is a story of a Qatari resident (Muslim) from the TripAdvisor forum:
“I was refused entry into Georgia despite being a visa on arrival (I am a Qatari resident). I was not given a reason and my passport was neither stamped nor was I given a refusal letter. I was simply told to board the same flight back to where I came from (Qatar).
I would also like to know if Georgian Immigration saved my details or something. I really want to spend 3 or 4 days in Tbilisi. Beautiful city.”
Here is another story of a bearded Muslim from UAE getting entry denial to Georgia
“Jainulabedin Hakimji, 36, an Indian based in Ajman, flew from Dubai to Tbilisi on October 14 with a colleague for a three-day leisure trip for the Hijri New Year. At the border control, his colleague, who queued up at a different counter, was granted entry. Hakimji, on the other hand, was not.
“When she saw me the lady at the counter immediately called another officer and directed me to go to the last counter without looking at my passport. They said they cannot let me in for security reasons. I asked on what grounds,” the chartered accountant, who has been working in the UAE for eight years, told Gulf News.
Hakimji said he informed the immigration officials that his colleague, who was traveling with him and had the same UAE resident visa from the same company and was of the same religion, was allowed entry. Their only difference, he said, was that Hakimji’s colleague was clean-shaven.
“They did not let me in because of my appearance. I am a Muslim and I’m strictly following the religion, that is why I have a long beard,” he said.
“While waiting for the flight back, there was an officer assigned to me. I wanted to go to the washroom but he said I was not allowed to go. They treated me as if I was a criminal.”
Here is a thread on Reddit about a UAE Muslim getting entry denial to Georgia.
“Just now landed in AUH. I was denied entry to Georgia and the officers didn’t tell me any reason. I had a PCR negative test and am fully vaccinated with travel insurance. I booked the tickets through Wizz Air a month back and today morning I departed from Abu Dhabi. Reached Kutaisi around 8 AM, Georgian govt immigration stopped me and denied entry may be because of my nationality. Realized how bad is for the racism first time in my life. After long hours of waiting and hassles, they sent me back to UAE by Etihad Airlines. The immigration at AUH said it’s normal and a lot of UAE residents are refused entry to Georgia. Feeling blessed I am back home again. Thanks to the UAE govt, I realized how tolerant this country and its people are on this single day!”
Here is a story of six Omani citizens being denied entry to Georgia for unknown reasons.
“Six Omani citizens were asked to hand over their passports and wait at the airport on arrival for over two hours. They were then denied entry to Georgia and asked to return home without being given convincing answers.”
It is pointless to demonstrate, analyze, and discuss every single case of a Muslim being denied entry to Georgia. It is clear that the only cause of these rejections is Islamophobia. Of course, a customs officer will never tell you “We don’t want you in our country because you are a Muslim”, “You are denied entry to Georgia because you have a beard”, “You will not enter Georgia because you are from Pakistan”, and other real causes.
I realize that a single blog post won’t change this situation. The main culprit of this problem is anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim propaganda that prospers in many countries of the world. The narrow-mindedness of some customs officers is the cause of this problem. I can’t change this situation, but I want my voice to be heard. Join the discussion in the comments down below and we will have more voices. Together we are the real power.
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