South African born Businessman vexed by harassment at Brisbane Airport
2015-03-27 11:18:06 | Al Muslim News
Australia is unwelcoming to dark-skinned people, of African and Asian descent, as well as Muslims traveling to that country. The official but muttered reason is terror. Zunaid Chenia, an Australian citizen and businessman, was taken aback when he was interrogated for 30 minutes at Brisbane airport after an overseas visit to SA and the UAE. As a businessman and humanitarian activist, who runs an orphanage in Jordan, this 49-year-old trots the globe frequently.
The ill-treatment this man and his family members endured is the type reserved for inbound visitors who don’t meet the “European”, or thus mainstream, profile.
“I have been traveling frequently coming into Australia, go back, and so forth. Alhamdulillah there was no problem before. First time I walked in, that was the 17th of March, that was last week Tuesday, my daughter and son-in-law traveled with me as well,” Chenia, who emigrated from SA almost 20 years ago, CII broadcasting reported.
“I actually scanned my passport and had my arrival card with me. As I got out I saw (an) officer standing there and he questioned me immediately: ‘Where’s your arrival card?’ I gave it to him, and I had something to declare, that was chocolate. I actually had it marked that I’ve got chocolate to declare, and after that he wrote something on the card – which I wasn’t aware of. So, I carried on. After five minutes another gentleman stopped me again and he asked me: ‘Where’s your arrival card?’ He looked at it.”
No sooner, another official emerged, a third, and stopped Chenia. “I was really confused. But, you know, travelling 14 hours, I was so tired so I just wanted to carry on and get my bags and move out.”
That was not the end of his nasty welcome and that of his co-travelers and family members. After getting his baggage, having met up with the other two, and heading towards customs, Chenia was told to go to a different section. That section, he noticed, had people, like him, of darker hue. Naturally, none were of European descent. His family members were also held up and questioned at Brisbane airport because of their appearance.
An official came up to me and said, look, ‘bring your bag’ and he said ‘put it on top of the table’.. The Australian immigration officials posing all sorts of questions: purpose of his visit to SA and the Middle East; duration of his stay in the island nation (disregarding his citizenship); nature of his businesses in Australia and abroad; whereabouts of his wife; and on it went. Unsatisfied with what the traveler’s answers, the Brisbane-stationed civil servant took Chenia’s mobile phone and went through his e-mails and photos. The businessman, upset as he was, decided to keep calm than confront his inquisitor.
“I was surprised because I’ve never been asked those questions before,” the businessman said, adding nothing of this sort has ever occurred to him in the 17 years that he has lived in Australia. Upon further investigation, Cheria found that 400 people, belonging to Islam, were “scanned” in this country – a supposedly cosmopolitan society. Instead of taking it lying down, he is rallying fellow mistreated citizens. A meeting is set, for this Friday, between members of the Muslim community and Queensland’s authorities, the police as well as the immigration minister..