“Syed Zia Hussain Shah, a 25-year-old graduate of the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and a Fulbright scholar, was on his way back from a winter break to continue his post-graduate studies at the University of Chicago when he was stopped from boarding a plane to the US.”

Zia told immigration officers in the US when he was going home for 2016 winter break, “In Pakistan, divinity studies are practically non-existent at an academic level, and religious intolerance and a lack of knowledge about religion are vastly prevalent. We live in a society where dialogue on religion often takes on an extremist fashion, and a lack of knowledge is what drives this.”

“I wanted to attain the right qualifications to design and develop a proper curriculum for Ravvish.”

“Ravvish is a social enterprise Zia co-founded with three of his friends back in 2014 as a platform for promoting religious and cultural tolerance amongst school students in Pakistan.”

“Even though Pakistan was never included in the list of seven Muslim-majority countries whose citizens were barred from traveling to the US (a ban which has since been rubbished twice by courts in the US), Zia was barred from entering the country without any official reason provided by the US government specifying why he was restricted despite holding a valid J-1 visa.”

“His troubles do not end there. Most of the young social entrepreneur’s official documents are stuck in Chicago. ‘My university degree, O and A Levels certificates, ‘B’ form, domicile, my precious books, everything is stuck in the US. My landlady was nice enough to store everything away for me, but I don’t know how long she’ll keep them.'”

“These days, Zia keeps himself busy with Ravvish and working at The Citizens Foundation, having joined the organisation in the last week of March after accepting his fate.”

For more details, please visit: https://www.dawn.com/news/1324846/meet-zia-hussain-the-stranded-fulbright-scholar-barred-from-reentering-the-us