I saw this article in today's Daily Star out of Lebanon. Not only has this policy of the U.S. effected priests in the Latin Patriarchate, but also those that belong to the Maronite and Melkite Churches. We need to speak up for our co-religious, and stop this type of racial profiling. All Arabs, wheither Christian or not, are being painted by the brush of racism.
Here is a link to the Holy Land Ecumenical Foundation (of which Fr. Salayta is a co-founder). http://www.hcef.org
Also you can also help free Father Emil from his Kafkaesque situation. Ask for the following:
1. Allow Father Emil to re-enter the United States2. The Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services apologize to Father Emil for his embarrassment and humiliation
Call the Department of Home Land Security - 202-282-8000 Call your Representative and Senators - 202-224-3121 Call the White House - 202-456-1414
Poosh BaShlomo Lkhoolkhoon,
Catholic priest barred from US slams INS `discrimination'
While supporters demand apology, stranded clergyman awaits fate in Canada
Special to The Daily Star (Lebanon)
BEIRUT: As days turn into weeks, Father Emil Salayta remains holed up in a Toronto hotel awaiting a response on his entry to the United States and learning first-hand the discrimination of new security rules implemented by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Department of Homeland Security.
Dressed in the black suit of a clergyman, albeit without his collar, Salayta arrived at the Toronto airport in late July expecting to get through security in about five minutes, as he had on his previous 20 visits to the US. He handed US immigration officials his Jordanian passport, indicating that he is a Catholic priest, with a valid five-year multiple-entry visa.
Renowned peace advocate and religious leader Salayta was then taken into an INS interrogation room where he underwent five humiliating hours of being interrogated, fingerprinted, photographed and searched. He was then denied entry to the US, ostensibly because he had the wrong visa. Consultation with State Department officials by Salayta revealed that his visa, obtained from the US Embassy in Jordan, was in order.
"I think that the INS or the Department of Homeland Security are going too far in their measures and are applying discriminatory measures toward the Arabs, regardless of their backgrounds," Salayta said in a telephone interview with The Daily Star. "Here I'm an Arab Catholic priest, harassed, embarrassed, profiled and denied entry to the US."
Along with his request to be allowed re-entry into the US, Salayta and his supporters are demanding that the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration services apologize "for his embarrassment and humiliation," according to a press release from the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HLCEF), of which he is a co-founder.
"This discriminatory profiling, and not allowing me to proceed with my visit to the United States, did affect me and my mission for the diocese," said Salayta. "The patriarch is upset with the unfair treatment and denial of my entry visa."
Salayta, a Roman Catholic priest of the Latin patriarchate in Jerusalem who is pursuing his doctorate in Rome, travels frequently to the US for church business. He applied in Jordan for his visa as a representative of his diocese, and made the trip in order to contact US churches and as a speaker for HLCEF. He had previously traveled to the US for these same purposes, and had had no problems. Salayta has been stranded in Toronto since July 20, prevented from attending meetings with top-level church officials in the US or accompanying his patriarch on an official US visit. In fact, Salayta had been in the US three days before his detention in Canada, having made the brief trip to Canada to appear on television shows and be interviewed. Despite his still valid visa which had allowed him to enter the US on July 3, he cannot re-enter the US, and a profile number has been added to his visa.
"As I was told by the INS inspector, I am not allowed to enter the US with my current valid visa. With my new profile and the number they added to my visa on my passport, for sure the denial to enter the United States is still on," he said.
"Over the last 13 years I have made more than 20 trips and always respected and loved this country and the people," Salayta said about the US. "(I've) always worked hard in building long-term partnerships between Americans from different backgrounds and denominations with the Middle East, promoting peacemaking, justice
The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee has expressed interest in taking on Salayta's case as a special project, Robert Younes of HLCEF told The Daily Star in an interview. He is also working with the US Catholic Bishops' Conference and various representatives in Congress to resolve Salayta's case.
HLCEF has also started a campaign to help Salayta that harnesses the organizational capabilities of the internet to reach supporters
worldwide. Through e-mails and press releases HLCEF has attracted the attention of the media and concerned individuals in the Middle East.
"He will not be able to visit the US and speak at our conferences and will not be able to act as an activist for the cause of the Christians in the Holy Land," explained Younes, detailing the effects that Salayta's detention will have on his work in the US. "We will have lost a very effective spokesman for Christians living in the Holy Land."
HLCEF is a Maryland-based nonprofit organization that was established in 1999 to halt the exodus of indigenous Arabs and improve the lives of the diminishing Christian population in the Holy Land by promoting solidarity between Christians living in the US and the Holy Land. It also seeks to inform Americans about the plight of Palestinians living under Israeli rule.
Speaking about his own situation, Salayta drew parallels to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"I hope the political leaders would some day understand that security is a fruit of justice, and security will never come from any other measures," said Salayta. "We had seen this and we are still witnessing it with the Israeli government in Palestine." Salayta has been outspoken in his criticism of Israel and its
occupation policies. He said that immigration policies that have driven Christians and Palestinians out of their historic homeland have simultaneously allowed more than a million Russian Jews to emigrate to Israel.