by Nadine Schwizer

Not all barriers are physical when it comes to travel in 2017

We supposedly live in a globalised world, where movement between different countries is facilitated, and nations work together. However, with an increasing number of terrorist attacks around the globe, the creation of a planet without borders is being halted. We have seen many, often members of our own generation, killed during terrorist attacks over the last two years: 89 died in Paris during a rock concert on 13 November 2015, 50 in a nightclub in Orlando on 12 June 2016, and, 39 in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve 2016. The political reactions to such events have had a major impact on how we travel and see the world. But is the resulting isolation of some countries and the rising prejudice against certain ethnic and religious groups something we can accept?

SURGE spoke to four people who have experienced just how much travelling has changed over the last few years.

 

IBEN REVSBECH experienced just how much more thought goes into planning a trip in 2017. Wanting to spend New Year’s partying somewhere other than home, she and her friends decided to go to Istanbul. Unlike 9 years ago however, when Iben first visited the city, the group did not agree upon their recent trip easily. “It was only after long conversations with my friends that we decided to actually go, even though we’d already bought the flight tickets”, she told SURGE.

Their fears turned out to be well-founded. The terrorist attack that hit Istanbul’s elite nightclub “Reina” on NYE caused 39 deaths and dozens of injuries. Luckily, Iben’s group was celebrating far from the club that night. When asked about the incident, Iben says, “I actually had a feeling that something would happen. But it’s easy to say that afterwards.”

“I actually had a feeling that something would happen. But it’s easy to say that afterwards.” (Iben Revsbech)

ALPAR AKMAN, a Turkish businessman and travel blogger, has experienced the effect of Trump’s presidency on travel plans for Muslims. Travellers from Middle Eastern countries in general have experienced just how fragmented our world has become. “After ISIS started attacking Europe, there has been a lot of prejudice against my kind of people. I’m not Muslim, I’m Turkish. But my passport says I’m Muslim”.

He spoke about random checks at airports – in his experience, most often aimed at people from Middle Eastern countries. “When you’re coming from a Muslim country, they want to know exactly when you’re going to leave again and they always want to know where you’re going to stay”, he explained. “Two years ago, things weren’t like this at all”.

“After ISIS started attacking Europe, there has been a lot of prejudice against my kind of people. I’m not Muslim, I’m Turkish. But my passport says I’m Muslim.” (Alpar Akman)

ISABELLE BROWN moved to Berlin last summer, “mostly for its wonderful multiculturalism”. When, on the 19th of December, a terrorist attack hit one of the busiest Christmas markets in town, she was at a comedy show not far from the scene. When Isabelle heard the news, her thoughts turned “dark and anxious” for a moment. “A huge venue like that… I will admit that Paris 2015 came to my mind”, she explained.

Before the attack, however, the student of social anthropology didn’t spend much time thinking of any possible dangers she could encounter in the city: “When I decided to move to Berlin my mind couldn’t have been further from terrorist attacks”.

“When I decided to move to Berlin my mind couldn’t have been further from terrorist attacks.” (Isabelle Brown)

AHMED HUSSINI, an Egyptian photographer and filmmaker, is one of many directly affected by Trump’s short-lived travel ban on people from Muslim-majority countries. He needs to get into the US, where his girlfriend’s family live, to ask their permission to marry her. He’s already attempted to get a visa twice, once before Trump got elected and once after – with no success.

Speaking about the American embassy, he says “they don’t see anything, just our passport and then they refuse us”. When asked about whether he could tell a difference between his experience at the embassy before and after Trump’s election, Ahmed told SURGE that before Trump, 18 out of 20 people applying for a visa with him succeeded, whereas after, 18 out of 20 people were refused.

“They don’t see anything, just our passport and then they refuse us.” (Ahmed Hussini)