Acting up

Back in February, actors starring in Michael Winterbottom’s politically-charged The Road To Guantanamo were held by British police under anti-terrorism legislation on their return from Berlin where the film premiered. One of the actors, Rizwan Ahmed, said he was verbally abused, had his mobile phone was taken away, told he could be kept in police custody for up to 48 hours without access to a lawyer. He also claims a police officer asked him if he planned to star in any more “political films”.  

A spokeswoman for Bedfordshire police told The Guardian: “Part of the counter-terrorism act allows us to stop and examine people if something happens that might be suspicious.”

Now we hear that an Iraqi actor who stars in United 93, Paul Greengrass’s new film about one of the planes hijacked on September 11, has been refused entry into the US for the movie’s premiere. Again The Guardian reports:

He said: “I think this was because I am still an Iraqi citizen and fought in the Iraqi army – but that was because I was forced to… Mr Alsamari, 30, deserted from the Iraqi army in 1993 and sought asylum in Britain in 1998…This is not the first time he has had problems with the US authorities. When United 93 was filming on location in New York, Alsamari was only granted a visa the day before filming was due to start.

What do these people – I mean, the authorities – think they’re up to? Can’t they tell the difference any more between actors and the characters they play? Or is this a foretaste of harassment to come, as the security state takes more and more of a grip? Is that too paranoid? But aren’t they the ones who are too paranoid? Uh?

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