Murder in Samarkand… Confiscated
The increased airport security is an ordeal. I was fine with that and planned in enough time to reach my easyjet flight from London-Luton to Berlin. Long queues, delayed departures, all that was pretty much calculated.
Being a little tired from an overdose of house-moving and tidying, I forgot to remove a cream from my hand luggage, the sight of which made the security staff put me in the extra-thorough check line. Everything was carefully inspected, including my camera, laptop – and my books.
The first one, a German novel, seemed alright. But the second, Murder in Samarkand, Craig Murray’s account of his time as the UK ambassador to Uzbekistan aroused some suspicion:
“Is that about terrorism?”, asked the lady that examined my onboard luggage. “Humm, well, it contains mentions of that, but it’s about your former ambassador to Uzbekistan and more about diplomacy”, I replied politely. “Does it have al-Qaida in it?” I looked a bit confused. “What?” – “Well, I have to check this with my manager, the rest of your stuff is fine, though.”
The manager then came after a minute or two. “Hello Sir, can you tell me about this book?” “Sure, it is about Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan.” “Where, if I may ask, did you buy this book?” – “Well, it is available at any Waterstones here in Britain. I just bought my copy in the Angel branch yesterday.”
“I am afraid you cannot take this onboard, Sir.” You must be kidding me. I just spent 20 pounds on a book that, despite arousing some controversy in the UK, should not be banned onboard a flight to Germany. I understand that the terror plot (which coincidentally seems to have an Uzbek dimension) makes for some overwrought nerves.
But to ban a book widely available in book stores in the UK is just a joke. Now, cash-strapped, I have to wait for the paperback edition to be published. Already late for the flight and raging in front of the calm airport security manager, I must have overheard that they can – in exceptional cases – post confiscated material to a UK address. I recalled that onboard the plane…