An actor due to perform in a play about Guantanamo Bay has been prevented from entering the US because authorities believed he was a terror suspect.
Mohammad Azami, 67, whose stage name is Badi Uzzaman, was to take part in a special performance of the Tricycle Theatre’s production of Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom on Capitol Hill, Washington.
Mohammad plays Azmat Begg, the father of Moazzam Begg. The play, written by Victoria Brittain and Gillian Slovo, is based on the words of those imprisoned in Guantanamo and their families.
Members of the British cast who originally performed the play in Kilburn, north London, in 2004 were due to stage it in front of members of the US Congress.
But Mohammad’s work permit allowing him to take part in the performance was delayed. He was told that he had the same name as a number of terrorism suspects.
“I’m frustrated because I love this play,” Azami told Socialist Worker. “I am so shocked and hurt by this. It is ridiculous.”
Azami added, “I have lived and worked in Britain as an actor for 25 years. They said my name was really common but I am the only actor in Britain with the name Badi Uzzaman.
“It’s really easy to check. Or is it that they are suggesting that everyone called Mohammad is a terror suspect? The really ridiculous thing is that I visited the US last year without any problems.
“I have done nothing wrong and everybody in the company has gone except me. The US think I could be some sort of terrorist.
“I have no problem in calling the US regime terrorist for what they have done in Iraq. They created terrorism and they kill and jail innocent people.
“There is an old story about a gate keeper turning down a traveller but letting other people through.
“When the traveller asks why, the gate keeper replies because you asked ‘why’. That’s how ridiculous this feels.
“I got a phone call from the embassy claiming it was sorting this out.
“What is it sorting out? It is already too late. So much for US democracy.”