Banned

● Trump travel ban hits Bri­tish Jew who’s told he can’t visit US be­cause he was born in Su­dan

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY LEE HARPIN

A SU­DANESE-BORN Bri­tish Jew has told how he has been left “ut­terly dev­as­tated” af­ter be­ing barred from fly­ing to Amer­ica to at­tend a wed­ding un­der Don­ald Trump’s so-called “Mus­lim” travel ban.

Robert Co­hen, 68, has held a Bri­tish pass­port for nearly

45 years since mov­ing to the UK in 1973 af­ter flee­ing the African state for Is­rael while he was a teenager.

Hav­ing flown back and forth between Amer­ica and the UK on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, Mr Co­hen, who lives in Hen­don, north Lon­don, saw no rea­son why he would not be able to gain an ESTA visa to fly to Los An­ge­les for the wed­ding of the son of Rabbi Me­nachem Ju­nik, the min­is­ter at his lo­cal Beis Gavriel sy­n­a­gogue.

But Mr Co­hen’s ap­pli­ca­tion to fly ear­lier this month came back “unau­tho­rised” be­cause he had con­firmed his birth­place was Su­dan — one of six

eMus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries on US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s travel ban list.

Mr Co­hen, who was born in the country’s cap­i­tal city Khar­toum in 1948, told the JC: “David, who was get­ting mar­ried, is al­most like a god­son to me. I was meant to be un­der the chu­pah giv­ing a bless­ing, and I was sit­ting at the top table in the evening.

“It was a ter­ri­ble mo­ment when I had to tell the fam­ily I would not be able to at­tend. The most mad­den­ing thing is that I have not been back to Su­dan since I fled the country with my broth­ers and sis­ters when I was just 15 years old.” Mr Co­hen, a re­tired travel agent, said he de­cided to book him­self a ticket to fly to Los An­ge­les be­fore the big day on March 3.

“As has been the case be­fore when I have trav­elled, I went to ap­ply for my ESTA and to book a flight di­rect to Los An­ge­les fly­ing from Heathrow,” he ex­plained.

“But this time my ESTA came back unau­tho­rised. I spoke to the em­bassy to check why — and they told me it was be­cause I had stated I was born in Su­dan. “I have been a Bri­tish pass­port holder for nearly 45 years now and I ap­plied for my ESTA giv­ing my Bri­tish pass­port num­ber.” Mr Co­hen has been told by im­mi­gra­tion ex­perts that there might be the pos­si­bil­ity of a visa

if he at­tends the US em­bassy for an in­ter­view.

Asked about the sit­u­a­tion, a spokesman for the Amer­i­can Em­bassy in Lon­don said: “We don’t com­ment on in­di­vid­ual cases.”

But Mr Co­hen fears that the bar on ESTA visas from Bri­tish cit­i­zens who were born in Su­dan who wish to travel to Amer­ica could now af­fect around 300 Jews born in the African state, as well as Jews from other Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries.

“There are big Jewish com­mu­ni­ties here in the UK, not just from Su­dan, but from Ye­men and es­pe­cially Iran.

“I don’t want to get in­volved in pol­i­tics, but what is clear is that there are Jews, Chris­tians and Mus­lims af­fected by this ban.

“Be­fore Don­ald Trump I had no prob­lem fly­ing to Amer­ica,” he said.

“We last vis­ited in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary 2016. I now find my­self banned from trav­el­ling to Amer­ica when I have trav­elled there hun­dreds of times be­fore. I am not a ter­ror­ist. I fought for the Is­rael in the Six-Day war. But now there are Jews, Mus­lims, Chris­tians all of who are in the same sit­u­a­tion as me.”

De­nied a visa: Robert Co­hen with his wife Ca­role

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