Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cartoonist names denied entry

An interesting story. Danish people with names similar to those of the cartoonists, have difficulties entering Middle Eastern countries. From jp.dk (in my translation);

"Cartonist names denied entry"



A number of ordinary Danish names makes it impossible to travel to countries in the Middle East. A man from Hadsten got his 60-year birthday spoiled, when he was stopped in Beirut airport.

The birthday journey to Beirut was a short one of it's kind for Poul Erik Poulsen.
Ha was otherwise going to the capital of Lebanon to celebrate his 60-year birthday with his wife and some friends who had just moved to town.

But that far the Lebanese authorities didn't think Poul Erik Poulsen should be allowed to come.
When he left the plane at two o'clock at night and came to the passport control, he was taken away to a closed office.

Not welcome here.

"There was 5 people sitting. The only thing they told me was that I wasn't allowed to travel into the country" tells Poul Erik Poulsen to jp.dk.
He was therefore taken to the next plane and charged 146 dollars to have his planeticket changed. 20 minutes later he was again sitting in a plane seat and on his way out of the country. His wife didn't get the same offer though - she should just continue her trip as normal and wasn't allowed to travel with him back.

"It's not very funny to stand there with two suitcases and be taken back out to the plane, while my wife has to stay in the country" remembers Poul Erik Poulsen.
The reason: Wrong name.

The reason, that Lebanon is a closed country for the soon 60-year old man from Hadsten, he wasn't told before he landed in Frankfurt and got in touch with Danish authorities.
"I wasn't allowed in, because I have the same name as one of those who drew Mohammad in the Jyllands-Posten. So that rules out the possibility of me going to the Middle East" he explains.

The foreing ministry has afterwards tried to solve the delicate matter, but so far there has been no decision made.

The cartoonist knew nothing.

The cartoonist Poul Erik Poulsen, who made one of the 12 cartoons that was published in Jyllands-Posten in september 2005, wasn't aware that entry for Danes that share his name, isn't allowed.
"I have been told that I and the other cartoonists can't go to the Middle East, but I've never heard of such a thing" tells the cartoonist.

Poul Erik Poulsen, who couldn't get through pass control, ended up celebrating the day in Denmark with his daughters, while he was in contact with his wife on the phone in Beirut.

"It's absurd that one can be taken hostage for something like that" he says.

Won't try again.

He still doesn't know if he will get any compensation for his wrecked journey, but he hopes that he will be removed for the blacklist of the Lebanese authorities.

Even if it happens, one shouldn't expect to see him in Beirut some other time.
"No, I couldn't dream about going down there some other time" he says.

For other people, who share names with Poul Erik Poulsen, Kurt Westergaard and the other 10 cartoonists, there apparently aren't any prospects of a trip to the Middle East anytime soon.