Well-known Canadian musician Boujemaa Razgui says U.S. customs agents in New York seized and destroyed 13 of his instruments last week.
Razgui told Arts Journal blogger Norman Lebrecht that officials at John F. Kennedy airport told him his handmade wood flutes were "agricultural products and they had to be destroyed." Razgui made the instruments himself.
"There was nothing I could do," he said.
Razgui, who is a Canadian citizen living in the U.S., was on his way from Morocco to Boston when he was stopped during a layover in New York. He told the Boston Globe that 13 instruments were destroyed in total, 11 neys and two kawalas. The ney and kawala are both types of wood flutes commonly used in Middle Eastern music.
Razgui says the instruments were made of bamboo. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection website says it is against the rules to bring undried or untreated bamboo into the country, but it seems that Razgui's flutes were dried. The website says musical instruments made of wood are permitted.
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