The new administration’s zealotry in “screening” visitors with any connection to majority-Muslim nations continues to generate anti-American headlines around the globe. This time, immigration officials’ target was Egyptian-born French historian Henry Rousso, who was detained 10 hours after flying to Texas to give a lecture at a Texas A&M symposium.
He was reportedly brought to an interrogation room for a “random check” after he was pulled aside by immigration officials without an explanation. According to his own account of what happened, Rousso was questioned about his travel documents and accused of flying to the United States to work on an illegal visa, before he was interrogated about his family, subjected to a body search, and forced to take an oath.
Rousso was released only after Texas A&M officials intervened on his behalf; he later tweeted that his “situation was nothing compared to some of the people I saw who couldn’t be defended as I was.”
Rousso was apparently singled out in the screening because he was born in Egypt—but his family fled that country over a half-century ago, in 1956, to escape anti-Semitic persecution by that nation’s government.
Rousso’s scholarship focuses on the memory of the Vichy regime, the darkest chapter in modern French history, when the government of unoccupied France collaborated with Nazi Germany in World War II. Vichy authorities are particularly infamous for assisting the Germans in rounding up and deporting tens of thousands of Jews from France during the Holocaust, which Rousso once called “the past that does not pass.”
Rousso’s detention comes on the heels of similarly abusive treatment towards Australian author Mem Fox, who says she will likely not return to the United States after her own experiences in Los Angeles.