Now this is a fine scandal. One Zaki Badawi, head of the Muslim College in London, was refused entry to the United States on Wednesday. He was scheduled to speak in New York, but the U.S. gatekeepers had other ideas. According to The Guardian, Badawi’s response was remarkably well mannered:
“The people I was speaking to were very junior people and they are just executing things they were told. They were very, very embarrassed and I felt sorry for them. America is a lovely country. There is no reason why it should behave like that,” he said.
The interesting thing about this story is where it goes from here. Unlike many who have been turned away under America’s terrorist watch lists and other secretive mechanisms of airport security, Badawi is not obscure and has the sort of profile that just screams “international incident”:
Dr Badawi has visited the US several times, most recently in 2003. He was given an honorary knighthood, and in 2003 was a guest of the Queen at a state banquet for the US president, George Bush. Earlier this week, Dr Badawi joined other British religious leaders, including Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks, in publicly condemning the London bomb blasts, which killed at least 54 people.