Beliefnet
AMMAN, May 05(AP) - A prominent Jordanian Muslim scholar said Friday he was denied entry to the United States this week and was interrogated by U.S. immigration authorities who wanted to know if he had links with terrorist organizations.

``What I faced in New York was simply piracy,'' said Ishaq Farhan.

Tuesday's incident has prompted Prime Minister Abdur-Ra'uf S. Rawabdeh and Foreign Minister Abdul-Illah Khatib to demand clarification from Washington on the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service action, a senior government official said on customary condition of anonymity. He declined to provide other details.

U.S. Embassy officials said they had no information on the incident.

Farhan, a former minister of education, is the director of Jordan's Zarqa University. He also heads the 120-member Shura, or Consultative Council, of the Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood Movement - Jordan's main opposition party.

But Farhan, an education graduate from the United States, is a moderate who advocates dialogue among religions and moderation in Islamic doctrine. He has often sided with the state against hard-line members of his own group who favor strict Islamic laws, such as veiling women and segregating the sexes.

Farhan, who carries a diplomatic passport, said he was going to the United States to attend an Islamic academic conference in New York and then visit his two daughters in Columbus, Ohio.

U.S. immigration officials at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport took his passport and told him there were instructions from the State Department to question him, he said.

``They asked me 30 silly questions like 'Are you affiliated with terrorist organizations?' and 'Do you advocate terrorism?''' he said. ``I answered, 'Neither I nor our religion believes in terrorism because we are people who believe in peace.'''

Farhan said he was banned from making calls and that officials of the Jordanian airline company he traveled on informed Jordanian diplomats in the United States of the interrogation.

Subsequently, he added, calls started to arrive at the airport's immigration office, ultimately leading to his release.

But he said the INS canceled his five-year, multiple entry visa and put him on the first flight back to Amman.

In Amman, he said, the Jordanian foreign minister told him at a meeting on Thursday that he has asked the U.S. ambassador to Jordan, William Burns, and the Jordanian ambassador to the United States, Marwan Mouasher, to explain the U.S. action.

Farhan declined to say what action he will take. ``Serious moral damage was inflicted upon me,'' he said.

Meanwhile, Farhan's party and other Jordanian political groups have urged the government to condemn the INS action.

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