A Palestinian is traveling to Europe and arrived via Paris. He faces extra scrutiny at the border as the guard evaluates him for entry. With all his cash in his pocket, he begins to worry when the border guard tells him, “Here is the ATM, get 200 euro for me.”
Amir: I was traveling to Paris, because it was the cheapest ticket to Europe.
I decided to start from Paris, and then I did not know where I’m going. I got my visa, prepared it myself. I had everything. I’m allowed to travel, it’s not my first time. But Paris airport is a bit tough.
So when I went there, they stopped me in the airport. After they looked at my passport, they were asking me:
“Where are you from?”
And I tell them “The passport is in your hand, you can tell I’m Palestinian.”
“You mean Palestinian from Jerusalem?”
I told him, “Yeah, Palestinian from Jerusalem. I live in Ramallah, but originally, Jerusalem is Palestine.”
He told me “No, it’s Israel.” He was saying this. He’s in the airport, the person who is stamping my passport.
Then he said, “Can you stand here for awhile so we can see what’s happening, see your papers, and everything?” I told him yeah. I’m totally sure that I am ready. Otherwise, I would not have gotten my visa. I was waiting for almost a half an hour. And then they came to me, and they asked me:
“Do you have your insurance?”
“How much money do you have as cash?”
“I have 1000 euro as cash.”
“Do you have a bank account?”
“I have two Visa accounts.”
But the two accounts have nothing in them. They’re empty. What I didn’t know is that my bank would loan me some money.
“Come with me. Here is the ATM, get 200 euro for me.”
I thought, “Shit, how am I gonna get this 200 euro? I don’t have anything.” But I tried, and my bank gifted me 200 euro. I was fucking happy inside. I’m sure I was fucked, you know?
And then he start to tell me, “You should have entered through Spain.”
I have the Schengen visa, but I should I go to Spain? I have Schengen, and it’s the Schengen area. I didn’t know that. I came to Paris. I don’t like Paris, but it’s the cheapest ticket to Europe, so I will take a selfie with the Eiffel tower and then go. This is the reality, this is what I’m going to do.
Why are you treating me like this? I have my job, I have my work, and I’m not going to leave my country. I’m not going to immigrate here. I will go back. But, they told me this is the process.
They were asking me about my visa. They were asking me about the money. They were asking me how old I am, where I am going, who I am going to meet. I was meeting a couchsurfer. She is a political activist, but I didn’t know that. I gave them her number because they asked me.
They asked her if I was coming. She said, “Yeah, he’s coming, I accepted him on couchsurfing. And why not? Why are you holding him like this? He has everything?”
They let me stay there for almost another half an hour, checking my passport. They ask me:
“What is your profession?”
“I work as a designer.”
“Can I have your passport again?”
“What else? I have to go with the train. My couchsurfer is waiting for me, it’s almost two in the morning.”
She went for awhile, not less than half an hour. She came back with my passport told me “Welcome.”
This is one of the experiences. In Ukraine, it happened almost the same. When she knew I was a designer, she did the same. I don’t know why, maybe they think it is a fake visa or something, but I’m not that good in designing to make a visa!
Authorities have been known to shake down tourists all over the world, but sometimes, they are surprisingly wholesome.