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Page last updated at 17:41 GMT, Tuesday, 9 September 2008 18:41 UK

'Israeli dance check' for artiste

Abdur-Rahim Jackson
Abdur-Rahim Jackson's Alvin Ailey troupe is world-renowned

A black American dancer with a Muslim first name was made to dance by Israeli airport security staff before they let him into the country, reports say.

Abdur-Rahim Jackson, of the Alvin Ailey troupe, was interrogated for an hour at Ben-Gurion airport near Tel Aviv.

He showed security staff his photos in the troupe brochure but to no avail.

"Then one of them asked me to dance for him... it was really embarrassing," Mr Jackson told Israeli media. The airport said it had no record of the incident.

The renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre company is at the beginning of a six-nation international tour which includes seven performances in Tel Aviv opening on Tuesday night.

Ben-Gurion airport has one of the tightest security regimes in the world, with some passengers facing close interrogation on the way in and out of Israel.

'No corroboration'

"They repeatedly asked me what my father's name is, what my mother's name is and why they gave me this name," Mr Jackson said in remarks reported by the YNet news website.

He said he showed his interrogators a few dance moves "and after another clarification of the details, they released me and allowed me to join the rest of the troupe".

A spokesperson for the troupe said no complaint was made and the Israeli airports authority said details of the incident were "unknown to us and no corroboration was found in the investigation we conducted".

Human rights groups say Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims are often subjected to delays and humiliating questioning when they pass through Israeli airports, although the national airports authority denies accusations of discrimination.

Despite calling the experience embarrassing and unpleasant, the 31-year-old Mr Jackson was sanguine about his treatment:

"It has already happened to me in the past, when I returned to the US after a trip to the Dominican Republic.

"Security guards interrogated me similarly, and they also asked me to dance. Maybe I need to get used to dancing at airports."




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