In a couple of days, it will be eleven years since Stanford PhD and distinguished Malaysian affordable housing architect Rahinah Ibrahim was arrested at SFO, told she was on the TSA no-fly list, and then excluded from visiting the United States. Since 2008, she's won a court order for disclosure of why she's barred, experienced lengthy government stalling, been forced by her visa denial to testify from abroad on videotape, been the beneficiary of a secret ruling, finally been told that her listing came because an FBI agent checked the wrong box, and then, once more, denied a visa because of "terrorist activities.
The determined investigative journalist Raymond Bonner has tried to untangle the complete, shameful, saga for ProPublica. Bonner is the reporter who first uncovered the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador in 1982. He's used to getting to the bottom of cover-ups. For this article, he wrangled the first extensive interview with Ibrahim about her long case.
And it turns out, this story is also about the inability of U.S. authorities to separate the activities of an accomplished woman who follows her faith by wearing the hijab from their doubts about her husband!
The U.S. government's suspicions of Ibrahim's husband Mustafa Kamal seem flimsy indeed.
I find Ibrahim's persistence in seeking truth and redress through all this quite inspiring. Perhaps that sort of grit is what it takes for a girl from a rural village to become an internationally recognized architect.