Sunday, January 5, 2014
Outrage at JFK as Customs men smash a musician’s instruments
Boujemaa Razgui, a flute virtuoso who lives in New York and works with many US ensembles, was returning to base over the holiday when Customs officials at Kennedy Airport asked to see his instruments.
Bourjemaa carries a variety of flutes of varying ethnicity, each made by himself over years for specific types of ancient and modern performance. He is a regular guest with the diverse and enterprising Boston Camerata.
At JFK, the officials removed and smashed each and every one of his instruments. No reason was given.
We have been unable to reach the distressed Boujemaa but a swell of outrage is rising among his musician friends. One ensemble director tells us: ‘I can’t think of an uglier, stupider thing for the U.S. government to do than to deprive this man of the tools of his art and a big piece of his livelihood.’
Boujemaa needs all the support he can get. Messages of sympathy on Slipped Disc will reach him one way or other.
A Canadian citizen, based in New York and with a green card employment permit, Boujemaa was flying home from Marrakech, Morocco, when his baggage was opened by Customs at JFK.
‘I told them I had these instruments for many years and flew with them in and out,’ he said. ‘There were 11 instruments in all. They told me they were agricultural products and they had to be destroyed. There was nothing I could do. The ney flute can be made with bamboo. Is that agricultural?’
Boujemaa was both upset and unwilling to risk a confrontation with the US authorities. We did not press him for further particulars. He does not know what to do next. But he does appear to be the victim of state injustice. What do the lawyers among our readers think he should do?