We would like to discuss the background of these bans and point out five of the most prominent individuals to have suffered this restriction.
1. Yasser Arafat
Arafat was the Palestinian hero and champion of their right to self-determination. As chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and chief of Fatah party, he was against the existence of Israel as a state. The Ronald Reagan administration banned him from attending the U.N General Assembly in New York in 1988, an act that caused hue and cry. Interestingly, Yasser’s famous handshake with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, right in the very lawns of the White House in 1993. Arafat succumbed to illness and died on 11th November 2004, at age 75.
2. Narendra Modi
You might find this strange, considering not long ago the Indian Premiere was rubbing shoulders and getting chummy with U.S President Barrack Obama. Yet, back in 2005 Modi (who was then Chief Minister of Gujrat) was handed out an A-2 diplomatic visa ban. This was due to the Gujarat riots in India in 2002 which claimed a colossal loss of 790 Muslim lives and 254 Hindu casualties. However, after Modi was cleared of the controversial massacre, he proceeded to visit the U.S in 2014 September after becoming Prime Minister.
3. Amy Winehouse
Prominent British singer Amy Winehouse, notorious for her drug abuse and assault charges, was also denied visa to enter the United States in 2009. Due to her drug controversy from 2007, she was denied a work visa into the United States and as a result, she could not perform live at the Coachella festival. Winehouse died in 2011 from a drug overdose.
4. Yusuf Islam
Previously known to the world as Cat Stevens, Yusuf Islam made headlines when he converted to Islam. The British singer was banned from entering the United States on 21st September 2004 and would remain so until late 2006. His flight was once diverted to Bangor, Maine where he was detained by officials of the U.S Department of Homeland Security and after questioning, released.
A spokesman for the US Department of Homeland Security said Mr Islam was on the “watch list” because of his “known associations and financial support to organizations believed to be aiding terrorism”. Officials said intelligence reports suggested he had given money to Hamas.
5. Boy George
His birth name George O’Dowd, the popular singer was banned from entering the United States in 2009 following his conviction for assaulting and false imprisonment of a paid sex partner. This was the second time he had been banned from entering the country, the first being in 2008 when he was facing a trial in England at that time.