Wednesday, October 26, 2005

French minister Azouz Begag was Searched and SHOVED by Atlanta Airport Security

(This article is translated by Google forgive the imperfection)

EN language diplomatic, that is called a "regrettable incident" ; for the interested party, Minister for the Republic, it is a "control with the facies" . Azouz Begag, in possession of a passport carrying a visa "A1" (reserved with the diplomats and the ministers), was retained during fifteen minutes and was questioned by an agent of the customs, October 13, in the airport of Atlanta (the United States) where it was in transit whereas it went to the university of the State of Florida to give a conference to it on the new French policies of fight against racism.

At the time, the minister delegated to the promotion of the equal opportunity did not give an echo to this diplomatic incident which was revealed, Friday October 21, by the spokesman of the French Minister for the Foreign Affairs.

Evoking "a control a little too thorough" , this last affirmed that the Quay of Orsay "had protested near the American authorities" and "had obtained explanations" via the State Department, which recognized that a "professional misconduct" had been made by an agent of the customs. The ambassador of the United States in France " expressed his regret besides" . For Mr. Begag, of which the fight against discriminations and the promotion of the "visible minorities" is precisely the function in the Villepin government, the experiment is not new, but particularly symbolic system.

Accomodated by a police escort at his exit of the plane in Atlanta, the minister was, according to his account, led towards an agent of the customs which, after him to have put many questions, explained to him why its diplomatic visa did not enable him to give a conference in a university. Directed towards a "green room" for a deepened checking, Mr. Begag, was then questioned on the preceding visas which it had obtained for the United States.

"the situation was tended, strange , brings back the Minister for the equal opportunity: the first civil servant did not see that I was a minister. I imagine that, in its spirit, a telescoping between my passport and my face occurred. In his eyes, I did not have the head of a normal French minister." The second control ends up proving to be negative: "They returned my passport to me and wished" welcome in the United States "".

They are only three fifteen minutes later, while waiting for its flight for Tallahassee (Florida) that Mr. Begag is approached by official American accompanied by the French Consul in Atlanta, which had sought it in the airport for one hour. "Everyone had been prevented, but a bad communication between services had prevented them from locating me", comments on the minister.


Wire of Algerian immigrants, high in a shantytown of Villeurbanne (the Rhone), sociologist and novelist with success before integrating the government, Azouz Begag is not with its first mishap of this kind. Here a few years, capped of a bonnet of wool by one day of winter, it had been blocked in the hopper of a banking agency while the director called the police force. In 1995, in Lyon, it had been noticed by Jacques Chirac while telling him without turning how young people are made drive back night clubs because of their "Arab mouth" .

"Since September 11, 2001, I have troubles in the United States systematically, says it today: we are not treated any more like the others, only because of the facies." In 2003, then simple writer and carrying a covered ordinary passport of multiple visas whose those of Arab countries where it had gone to the invitation of French arts centres, Mr. Begag already had been retained and pressed questions.

With the airport of Atlanta, this time, the Minister for the Republic tried out a new situation where "it is another Azouz which crosses the border, and which cannot accept the things like front" . On the walls of the air terminal géorgienne, portraits of Martin Luther King and the heroes of the fight against the discrimination of the Blacks got a " pinch of emotion to him" , recalling him that black Pasteur had been the reference, in France, of the Walk of Beurs of 1983. In Paris, recognizes Mr. Begag, "this kind of telescoping is rather frequent" . Several time, of the interlocutors took it for... it bodyguard of the minister.

Philippe Bernard
Article published in the edition of the 25.10.05

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