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Israelis hassle Ailey dancer

September 10, 2008|From the Associated Press

A performer with the famed American Alvin Ailey dance troupe on Tuesday said he was twice forced to perform steps for Israeli airport security officers to prove his identity before he was permitted to enter the country.

Abdur-Rahim Jackson, an eight-year veteran of the African American dance ensemble, said he was singled out by Israel's renowned airport security because he has a Muslim name. He called the experience embarrassing and said at one point, one of the officers even suggested he change his name.

"To be greeted like this because of my name, it took me back a little bit," Jackson said.

Israel is the first stop on a six-nation tour celebrating the New York-based dance company's 50th anniversary. This year, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution calling the group a "vital American cultural ambassador to the world."

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