❝ It is an iconic American experience, a first long-distance trip in a Greyhound bus through parts of the south-west made famous by Route 66.
When Daljeet Singh took the journey, though, he saw an altogether more dystopian vision of America: one in which it feels like a prejudiced and paranoid place where to be perceived as “Arabic” is to be viewed as a potential terrorist.
❝ Singh has complained to authorities in Texas and called for action after he and another man were arrested on suspicion of terroristic threats on 21 February when a fellow passenger alleged she heard them discussing a bomb and “acting weird”.
He was detained by police in Amarillo for about 30 hours and released without charge after being interviewed by the FBI.
❝ The 30-year-old Sikh man, who speaks very little English, is a political asylum seeker from India who had been released the day before the incident after spending about a month in an immigration detention center in Arizona. He was traveling on a service from Phoenix to Indianapolis.
Singh said in a statement that during the journey he spoke on the phone with friends and family in his native language, Punjabi. He came across another passenger, a Pakistani man named Mohammed Chotri, who also spoke Punjabi, and they sat together and conversed.
❝ Singh said that in Amarillo several passengers began regarding him with suspicion, behaving aggressively and taking photographs of him. Soon after the bus left the Texas panhandle city, he said, two passengers restrained him in his seat and police arrived and ordered him to step out.
“When I exited the bus, approximately 15 police officers stood outside with guns pointed at me. Police arrested and searched me, removed my religious turban, placed me in handcuffs, and placed me in a police vehicle,” he said. Chotri, also recently released from an immigration holding center, was detained as well. A bomb squad was called to check the bus and a section of Interstate 40 was closed.
“The only crime I committed was wearing a turban, having a beard, and speaking in a different language to another brown man on a bus,” Singh said.
When I was still on the road, I used to end every other week in Amarillo. Only about 300+ miles back to home in northern New Mexico. I knew some very nice people in Amarillo.
You don’t want to visit in the middle of summer. The feed lots are stuffed full of cows being fattened up for slaughter and there ain’t necessarily enough breeze to blow the flies and smell away from town. 🙂