French historian held for 10 hours at US border

The late heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali and Muhammad Ali, his son, in 1975. Ali jnr was detained at the US border. Photo / AP file
The late heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali and Muhammad Ali, his son, in 1975. Ali jnr was detained at the US border. Photo / AP file

A renowned French historian who was on his way to a conference at a university in Texas was held for 10 hours and nearly deported when he arrived at Houston airport.

"I have been detained 10 hours at Houston International Airport about to be deported. The officer who arrested me was 'inexperienced'," Henry Rousso, who was written extensively about World War II France, tweeted.

Officials from Texas A&M University said Rousso, an Egyptian-born Jewish scholar, had nearly been sent back to Paris as an illegal alien due to a "misunderstanding" over his visa when he arrived in the United States last week.

The university managed to prevent the historian's deportation with the help of a law professor who specialises in immigrant rights.

"In the past, I had not seen anything like that happening," the lawyer, Fatma Marouf, told a local website.

"It seems like there's much more rigidity and rigour in enforcing these immigration requirements and the technicalities of every visa," she added.

News of the incident comes just days after it emerged that Mem Fox, the Australian author of children's books including Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes and Possum Magic, said she might never return to the United States after she was detained and allegedly insulted by border control agents at Los Angeles airport.

Fox was en route to a conference in Milwaukee this month when she was stopped and questioned over her visa despite having visited the US 116 times before.

At the weekend it emerged that US border control agents had detained Muhammad Ali jnr, the 44-year-old son of the world-renowned boxer, and quizzed him about his name and religion when he returned from from a trip to Jamaica.


Rousso has spoken many times at leading US universities as well as the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, and was also a visiting professor at Texas A&M in 2007, according to his online profile.

"Thank you so much for your reactions," the historian wrote on Twitter. "My situation was nothing compared to some of the people I saw who couldn't be defended as I was."

Last month, US President Donald Trump imposed a temporary entry ban for citizens of seven Muslim majority countries. The list did not include Egypt.

The ban was later overturned by a US federal court.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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