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Henry Rousso

Henry Rousso, an Egyptian-born Jewish-French historian specializing in World War II France, was detained by customs officials in Houston last Wednesday evening, on his way from Paris to participate in a symposium at the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study at Texas A&M University, when he was “mistakenly detained,” TheEagle.com reported Saturday.

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Rousso was born in 1954 in Cairo, and emigrated to France with his family in 1956 due to the rise of anti-Semitism in Egypt. He is Director of Research at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS).

His lecture at the symposium was titled Writing on the Dark Side of the Recent Past.

According to Richard Golsan, director of the Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research at Texas A&M, upon Rousso’s arrival there was some misunderstanding regarding his visa, and “when he called me with this news […] he was waiting for customs officials to send him back to Paris as an illegal alien on the first flight out.”

Golsan reported the above incident as he was introducing Rousso to the audience assembled to hear a panel in which he participated.

Golsan said he immediately called university officials, following which A&M President Michael K. Young to enlist the help of Texas A&M Law School professor and director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic Fatma Marouf. The latter contacted customs and border protection agents in Houston regarding what she termed their “extreme response.” Golsan praised Marouf, saying, “Due to her prompt and timely intervention, Rousso was released.”

“In the past, I had not seen anything like that happening,” Marouf told TheEagle.com. “It seems like there’s much more rigidity and rigor in enforcing these immigration requirements and the technicalities of every visa.”

Rousso’s work includes a seminal book on Vichy France entitled The Vichy Syndrome (1987) where he coined a phrase commonly used to describe the era, passé qui ne passe pas (the past that doesn’t pass – inspired by Ernst Nolte’s 1986 article titled Die Vergangenheit, die nicht vergehen will –The past that does not want to pass away).

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