April 05 , 2017
Pakistani Fulbright scholar denied entry into US
Zia Hussain, (25), a Fulbright scholar pursuing his dream of education from university of Chicago, was barred early this year from flying back to US after he had come to Karachi in winter vacations.
Inspired from Sufism, Zia got himself enrolled for the course of Islamic studies in the department of Divinity at University of Chicago.
After only completing first semester of his long-awaited dream degree, when he came to Karachi to spend his vacations with family, he was denied entry in US to continue his course.
He claimed he had all the required documents to travel to US and had gone through all the security-clearance but still was stopped at the airport.
He added that he only discovered he was barred from entering when he got to the airport. "We cannot let you go," Shah was told by border agents, who explained they had received a confidential email instructing them to halt him.
Before getting admission in Chicago University, he also went on a US government-sponsored Undergraduate Cultural Exchange Programme to American University in Washington back in 2014.
When asked about his choice of subject, he referred to the scarcity and consequently the demand of Islamic scholarship in Pakistan.
Zia also works as a cofounder of Ravvish, a social enterprise aimed at promoting religious-cultural tolerance among school students in Pakistan and has conducted over 120 workshops on peace-building and conflict resolution in five cities.
"I work for peace-building and empathy and this doesn't suit my profile in life to be stopped like this," he shared his lament while being interviewed by a foreign blogging website.
However, in this entire process he claims to be overwhelmed with the support he has received through a post on Facebook, “I would also like to point out that University of Chicago administration, professors, friends and the Fulbright program officials have all been supremely helpful throughout this time and it is unfortunate that the US visa officials have paid no heed to their letters of support.”
Syed has been given an official leave till the start of the new semester in September. “I have all the relevant documents just need a visa now” he said.
He said he would apply for US Visa again to continue in the fall semester before he considering other options like UK where the credit transfers are not practiced and he’d have to start from the scratch in the latter case.
The reasons why he was stopped remain unclear, soon after this incident Trump’s administration had announced ban on seven Muslim countries (in which Pakistan was not included).