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Iranians being detained, interrogated at US border

A US Border Patrol agent questions a driver near the US and Canada border [Scott Eisen/Getty Images}
A US Border Patrol agent questions a driver near the US border on 1 August 2018 [Scott Eisen/Getty Images}

Iranian-Americans are being detained and interrogated for hours at the US border amid rising tensions between the two countries.

It has been reported that some were held for 12 hours at a time, and questioned about their views on the situation with Iran despite being US citizens or possessing appropriate documentation to cross the border.

One Canadian citizen with a green card, Sepehr Ebrahimzadeh, described the chaotic scenes at the US border to the BBC.

He said he was made to wait with others being questioned about their social media accounts, and he himself was probed about his life in Iran, including his high school years, military service and his father.

Another described her children's fear as they attempted to cross the border into the United States on their way home from a family holiday in Canada.

Iranian-American mum Negah Hekmati told a press conference in Seattle: "My daughter was saying, 'Please don't speak Farsi. If you don't speak Farsi maybe they won't take you.'"

READ: 'Never threaten the Iranian nation,' Rouhani warns Trump

She continued: "For me as an immigrant, I'm used to it, unfortunately, but for my kids it shouldn't be OK and I'm afraid that's the slippery slope."

"My kids should be proud of their ancestors, their heritage."

It was also claimed by Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, that passports were withheld whilst those of Iranian descent were questioned about their political views.

However, Customs and Border Control (CBP) issued a denial that the racial profiling of Iranian-Americans was taking place.

A CBP spokesman claimed that the delays were due to the holiday season.

READ: 'Low point in US politics' as Pence shares 'crazy conspiracy theory' about Iran

He said: "Social media posts that CBP is detaining Iranian-Americans and refusing their entry into the US because of their country of origin are false."

Racial profiling at the borders increased when US President Donald Trump implemented his "Muslim ban" in 2017 which banned nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the US.

Americans take part in a rally called 'I Am A Muslim Too' in solidarity with American Muslims in New York, US on 19 February 2017 [Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency]

Americans take part in a rally called 'I Am A Muslim Too' in solidarity with Muslims in New York, US on 19 February 2017 [Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency]

The latest escalation comes after the US' assassination of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, and continued threats by Trump to destroy 52 sites of cultural heritage in Iran if it dared retaliate.

However the Pentagon ruled out any such attack which would amount to war crimes under international law. Speaking yesterday, Defence Secretary Mark T Esper said the US "will follow the laws of armed conflict".

Some had compared Trump's threats to the destructive rampage of Daesh. The terrorist group became notorious for destroying cultural and world heritage sites.

Iraq's parliament on Sunday voted to expel US and foreign troops from the country. Trump has threatened sanctions should the new decision be brought into action.

READ: Iraq complains to UN over US attacks; summons US envoy

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Asia & AmericasCanadaIranIraqMiddle EastNews
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