Australian Muslim activist, Yassmin Abdel-Magied ‘kicked out of US’

A prominent Australian author and Muslim activist was denied passage to the United States Thursday and put on a plane home in the wake of touching base for a speaking engagement, sparking calls for a re-think by border authorities. Yassmin Abdel-Magied, an advocate for youth, women and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, said she was stopped at immigration and ordered out of the country.

“Roughly three hours since touch down in Minneapolis, I’m on a plane back,” she tweeted.

“Well, guess that tightening of immigration laws business is working, despite my Australian passport. We’re taking off now.”

An announcement by US Customs and Border Protection, refered to by Australian media, said she didn’t have the correct visa. Abdel-Magied was expected to show up in New York to talk about online detest against Muslims and the challenges of being a young Muslim woman in Western countries at a forum organised by PEN International, a freedom of expression organisation.

PEN America chief Suzanne Nossel said she was dismayed by the decision and understood it was the same type of visa used previously for similar trips without issue. She said the motivation behind the PEN World Voices Festival, established after the 9/11 attacks, was to sustain links between the US and the wider world. This, she stated, was being endangered “by efforts at visa bans and tightened immigration restrictions” which threatened “to choke off vital channels of dialogue that are protected under the First Amendment right to receive and impart information through in-person cultural exchange”.

“We call on Customs and Border to admit her to the US so that she can take her rightful place in the urgent international conversation to take place at the festival next week.”

Adbel-Magied, 27, said authorities seized her phone and visa before putting her on a plane out.

“Those who say the world is borderless are those who have the right colour passports — or birthplace,” she tweeted.

Abdel-Magied, a former Queensland state Young Australian of the Year and mechanical engineer, was born in Sudan but moved to Australia in 1992. She moved to London a year ago. She has worked as a presenter for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and in the past served on the administration’s Council for Australian-Arab Relations. She started an objection in Australia over an Anzac Daysocial media post referred to current worldwide conflicts and the plight of asylum-seekers detained by Australia in offshore camps.

Anzac Day annually marks the ill-fated 1915 landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps in modern-day Turkey during World War I. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said it knew she had been denied entry.

“Like Australia, the United States administers a strict entry regime. The decision on who can enter the United States is a matter solely for the US government,” it included.

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