I WAS DENIED ENTRY TO GEORGIA
In autumn 2018, I was vagabonding in Turkey. I started hitchhiking in Istanbul and visiting every single major city on the road and looking at its historical landmarks. At some point, in one of the Northern Turkey cities, I decided to go to Georgia which is situated on Turkey’s eastern border. I saw photos of Georgian nature, landscapes, and historical places. Plus, I read some wonderful things about the hospitality of the Georgian people. One of the most famous and popular sayings in Georgia is “Guest is a gift from God”. I said: “WOW! What an amazing country to visit.”
I love learning about foreign cultures, visiting historical places, spending time in nature, eating exotic foods, camping, and backpacking. Also, I love enjoying the hospitality of locals. It is pleasant when people help you on the road, invite you to their homes, and respect you as a guest. I would never write good things about a nation whose country is beautiful, but it disrespects guests. Never!
Thus, I decided that Georgia should be my destination point. I have no idea how many days it took me to reach the Turkish-Georgian border (Turkiye-Gurcistan siniri) which is called Sarpi. Finally, after a few days of hitchhiking, meeting very interesting people, and loads of cool adventures, I reached Sarpi on a rainy day in the middle of the afternoon.
EXITING THE TURKISH SIDE
When I was exiting Turkey, a customs officer told me: “They won’t let you in because you are entering through a land border. You have to enter through an airport.” I have no idea where he got this information since thousands of tourists and backpackers successfully enter Georgia through Sarpi every year. I didn’t argue with him. He stamped my passport and I went through a long corridor towards the Georgian side.
A FEMALE CUSTOMS OFFICER PUTS DOWN MY PASSPORT
I was standing in a queue and waiting. Finally, it was my turn to give my passport to a customs officer. She was young with blonde hair. She took my passport, checked it on her computer, and I think that my bearded photograph popped up on her screen. She put my passport down and told me: “Please, stay to the side and wait.”
I didn’t expect this attitude in a country that says “A guest is a gift from God.” I have no idea what I had to wait for. The female customs officer messaged someone on her smartphone, and after a few minutes, a very cold male customs officer was analyzing me with his snaky eyes.
This man was completely emotionless, very cold, and look like a brainwashed zombie robot. At some point, he took his iPhone from his pocket and started blatantly photographing me. It looked and felt like I was a convicted criminal who has committed a serious crime on his territory, and now, he was taking my mugshots. Then, he started calling someone on his smartphone.
I was standing on a side while Georgians and foreign travelers were comfortably passing the border. The female officer wasn’t asking them any questions. In front of me, a couple of mature British backpackers passed the border with no problems. These were vagabonds who slept in tents.
After a few minutes, a second customs officer came to me. Both of the officers started questioning me: “How much money do you have with you?”, “Where will you stay?”, How many days are going to stay in Georgia?”, “Do you have international health insurance?” I quickly answered all the questions in the smartest way I could.
After this inhospitable attitude, I was regretting coming to the Sarpi border. These customs officers definitely disliked me. I think it was a matter of psychological rapport. They are Christians with Christian Orthodox beliefs who are brainwashed to think that every bearded Muslim is a potential terrorist or extremist. I simply wasn’t like them, and they disliked me for this.
All their questions about my cash, my destination point, duration of my planned stay in Georgia were excuses to harass me. Finally, the biggest problem was that I didn’t have international health insurance.
I WAS OFFICIALLY DENIED ENTRY TO GEORGIA
After a few minutes of harassing me with their interrogation, angry and suspicious looks, both customs officers went to their cabinet. Then one of the officers came back with a paper containing an official denial of entry to Georgia. I was not allowed to enter the country.
I took the papers issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, and one of the Georgian customs officers ushered me to the Turkish border.
Actually, it was good that I was barred entry to Georgia because I wouldn’t explore Southern Turkey if I went to Georgia. And my adventures in the South of Turkey were amazing. Nonetheless, I want to strongly point out that Georgian customs officers are blatant islamophobes. I have read dozens of stories of Muslims being denied entry to Georgia for no reason. I will surely dedicate a separate blog post covering this islamophobic problem in the nearest future.
Leave a Comment