An all-American boy living in Cairo? Cue full-on terrorist alert at US airport

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 April, 2011, 12:00am

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An old college mate became a terror suspect at the Philadelphia airport recently. An all-American boy, he is a sixth-generation native of Iowa and now a philosophy professor teaching at the American University in Cairo. His great-, great-grandfather lost a finger fighting under General Grant in 1862. Perhaps his Egyptian connection rendered him suspect. I guess it's equal-opportunity terrorist-hunting at US airports.

'Philadelphia. For the first time ever I got sent to the special room for suspicious people. It might sound funny, but when it happens when trying to enter your own home country, the first reaction you feel is indignation,' he wrote.

'On the outside of the room it says something like: 'We will treat you with honour, respect and dignity.' But the first thing that happened was that a snarly young guy with a buzz cut barked a vague command at me and when I asked for clarification he gave a sarcastic answer as though I had just asked the dumbest question of all time. And then he answered my question anyway.

'The second guy was nicer, but was giving me one of those Blade Runner 'replicant' tests, staring into my eyes while asking very rapid questions about my life. Someone once told me that if you get flagged once like this, it will happen every time after that. I hope not.'

Well, at least my friend is philosophical about it.