In October 2009, Siddharth Varadarajan of The Hindu reported that three Muslim journalists who were part of prime minister Manmohan Singh‘s official media delegation to the G-20 summit Pittsburgh were denied US visas.
The passports of all three were returned with yellow slips stating they had been found ineligible to receive a visa and that their applications needed “additional administrative processing”.
Now, in September 2010, Vidya Subrahmaniam reports in the same newspaper that Zia Haq, an assistant editor of Hindustan Times, has found that his application needs similar additional administrative processing.
Part of a seven-member journalist delegation invited to participate in a week-long technology and farm show that began on August 28 at Iowa in the United States, the US embassay suspended processing of Haq’s visa and he had to drop out of the tour at the last minute.
Haq writes on his blog:
“all other journalists in the delegation were promptly granted visas…What prompted this? My religion? My faith? My views? [But] I have never been a consistent, rabid or vocal opponent of America…”
The other journalists who were invited—bearing the names M.J. Prabhu (The Hindu), Sitanshu Swain (Financial Express), Vivek Giridhari (Lokmat), U. Pandey (Dainik Jagran), Sudhakara Reddy (Sakshi) and Uma Sudhir (NDTV)—were able to reach the US for the show.
For the record, Zia Haq’s blog says this about himself in case US embassy officials haven’t noticed:
“Zia Haq, as a five-year-old, refused to take Arabic lessons from a maulvi hired by his mother because the alphabet book wasn’t colourful enough. He revisited the Quran only as an adult, just after 9/11 to be precise, to find out if his faith was inherently violent. The ‘need to know’ soon grew into a ‘need to tell’ — that Islam needs to be understood not feared. Haq reports on minority affairs but likes to believe he’s destined for bigger things, like taking the phobia out of Islamophobia.”
Photograph: courtesy Hindustan Times
Read Zia Haq’s full blog: They call me Muslim