Professional musician’s flutes destroyed as ‘agricultural products’ by US Customs

(Arts Journal 12/31/13) Boujemaa Razgui, a flute virtuoso who lives in New York and works with many US ensembles, was returning to Mexico 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 Boston Camerata and other ensembles. At JFK, the officials removed and smashed each and every one of his instruments.

I told them I had these instruments for many years and flew with them in and out. 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?

Bouzemaa 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. Fellow musicians are looking for advice on how he should respond. Go here.

(iroots.org) We believe this is Boujemaa Razgui in costume performing on violin and singing in a performance by the Sharq Ensemble for “Boston Christmas Revels.”

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