Muslim student banned from re-entering the US, despite fighting against extremism

Muslim student banned from re-entering the US to study, despite fighting against extremism

Zia Shah was studying at the University of Chicago

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Muslim student who left the US to visit his parents in Pakistan was told he could not return to continue his studies at the University of Chicago.

Zia Shah was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study religious studies at the university, after previously educating children in Pakistan about religious tolerance, according to The Independent.

Shah went to visit his parents upon completion of his first team, but when he tried to go back to the US, airport staff told him he could not travel.

This incident happened on January 4 - two weeks before Barack Obama's term as president ended.

Airport staff said they had received a “confidential email” from the US, which meant he could not continue his degree, funded by the US government.

Just months earlier, the United States Agency for International Development had given Shah money to set up a social enterprise named Ravvish. It ran workshops for pupils on various beliefs and faiths.

He wanted to work on the project due to attacks on Shia Muslims - his uncle was killed in 2010 - and also because of the threat from the Taliban.

Shah applied for the Chicago scholarship to develop the enterprise, and said that being accepted on the course was "like a dream come true. And I did everything against the mainstream. You just don’t see Pakistani students studying at a divinity school.”

It is still not clear why Shah was stopped from entering the US again. His tutors and fellow students were also shocked at the news and are campaigning for the ban on Shah to be lifted.

The University of Chicago and the Fulbright programme have kept the option open for Shah to continue the course if the ban is lifted.

Whilst he waits for any news about the situation, Shah is working in schools for children who can’t afford education in Karachi, as he left Ravvish to be run by other volunteers in Lahore, which is on the other side of Pakistan.