Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Countries issue travel warnings for U.S. to their citizens

The United States' place in the world. Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. is not the center of the Universe. It is bordered to the North by its neighbor Canada, to the imediate South by Mexico, Cuba, Dominician Republic, Haiti and the Northern part of South America, To its East is Bahams, Bermuda, Greenland and Iceland, far East is Western Europe and parts of West Africa. To it's West is the island state of Hawaii and the often ignored state of Alaska. Keep going West you'll run across Russia, Japan, China, Philippines and Korean Peninsula. From the U.S., It's relatively easy to fly to anywhere in the Caribbean and Central and South America. It is also possible to drive to Mexico and into Guatemala and Belize.

Afrisynergy News: The recent Sterling and Castille murders, Vengeance against the police and international response

The United States often times presents itself around the world as an overly exceptional country in government, culture, multicultural diversity and uniqueness. American society is touted as the eptimote of a modern day country and Democratic system that works. While any other alternative to Democratic system is that works and fits the needs of countries' own societies than American style Democracy (think secular politics of Syria, Iraq, Libya and most of North Africa pre-Arab Spring and wars, socialist people's movements in Venezuela ie Chavismo, Cuba, Bolivia, Brazil or China's capitalist communist politics) maligned by the United States and its allies as an ultimate failure. For all the boosting, the United States is not free from international travel warnings, criticisms or responses to  the recent ongoing police terrorism and violence that plagues American society. People and governments around the world do pay close attention the violence occurring within the United States. There are many writers and analysts outside the U.S. who are not awe struck by American exceptionalism. Many international observers are aware of the U.S.' double standards in it's human rights violations of its own citizens, Child poverty (one of the highest in the Global North), foreign policy, racism and police brutality. The United Nations Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Defence for Children International and Rights of the Child have constantly condemned the use of excessive force by American police against unarmed American civilians especially African American men, children and women as well as other Americans.

Bahamian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues U.S. travel warning to Bahamians

In response to the back to back killings of Philandro Castille in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 6th and Alton Sterling in Baton Rogue, Louisiana on July 5th , three countries Bahamas, UAE, Bahrain and New Zealand have issued travel warnings for the United States for their citizens going on vacation to the USA. Ironically they are all U.S. allies and have generally good relations with the United States. The Caribbean nation of the Bahamas was the first country to issue a travel warning for its citizens and expats travelling to the U.S. or already in the country. The U.S. is a popular destination for many Caribbean Latin American travellers especially Florida's Miami and Orlando areas where many cruises to the Caribbean are based. The warning is the standard advisory given to all international travelers aross the world. The Bahaman ministry warned Bahamians to avoid demonstrations and protests, be cautious around the police and not get caught up in the politics. In a country where 90% of the population is Black or African descendant, the travel warning is understandable and justifiable.

Emirati man in Ohio for medical treatment mistaken as member of ISIS Avon, Ohio (Police Body camera footage) provided by ABC 5 New Avon

 Medical tourism and mistaken identity encounter

 The United Arab Emirates travel warning included a unique advisory for it's citizens going to the U.S. that traditional Emirati clothing (kandura and arghel or the abaya/jaballa) recognized the world over shouldn't be worn or less visible if Emirati travellers are out and about in the U.S. The clothing advice is meant to avoid causing fear from the police or an unnecessary escalation. An Emirati businessman Ahmed al Menhali who had travelled to Avon, Ohio for medical treatment for his heart problem was manhandled by the local police after a panicking clerk called the Avon police at a local Fairfield Inn (lodging) foolishly assuming that Menhali had pledged alliance to ISIS after he spoke in Arabic on his phone and wore white Khaleeji flowing grown and kaffiyeh. The clerk didn't know Arabic to understand what he was saying. Thanks to the mainstream media, odinary Americans have associated tourists such as Menhali, (UAE is one of the safest countries in the region) from the wider Middle East with ISIS and terrorism. Menhali was hospitalized after fainting following his brief arrest. When it comes to international incidents such as the police arrest of Menhali in Avon, no matter how small, the U.S. government (in this it is the city gov) tends to being more diplomatic to international tourists: ensuring their safety compared to citizens to avoid even the smallest media attention/outrage from abroad. Three days later, Mr. Menhali received an apology from the City Mayor of Avon in a small meeting following the Emirati government's critique of U.S. racism towards it's citizen and wider Arab and Muslim travellers. Bahrain has issued travel warnings also concerning Bahraini citizens' interactions with American police officers and demonstrations. Both countries remind their citizens to be aware of islamophobia rising again as a result of the recent Orlando Shootings.

The New Islamophobia in the U.S. by author Reza Aslan

PS: Often when American citizens, Japanese or Britons are in the same situation abroad, the governments will mention not to make themselves noticeable while out or to keep a low profile.

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