USA: Musician’s instruments confiscated and destroyed in airport

Flute player Boujemaa Razgui had his 11 flutes taken from him and destroyed by Customs at JFK Airport in New York.


A Canadian citizen, based in New York and with a green card employment permit, Boujemaa Razgui, was flying home from Marrakech, Morocco, when his baggage was opened by Customs at JFK.

Boujemaa Razgui told them he had had these instruments for many years and flew with them in and out. The officers told him they were agricultural products and had to be destroyed.

“There was nothing I could do. The ney flute can be made with bamboo. Is that ‘agricultural’?”

The ney flutes which Boujemaa Razgui had taken from him are ones which he has spent a lifetime collecting, making and playing upon.  

Professional ney flutes are almost impossible to purchase and most professional ney players must resort to making them themselves. This however, is not an easy process as the reed required to make this soulful and mourning instrument is increasingly difficult to come by. Ney players typically carry one set of neys as a different ney is required for each key.

Boujemaa Razgui was reportedly in tears when he told about the loss of his neys. He explained:

“Besides representing my livelihood, the neys are like my children.  Each one was carefully and lovingly crafted.  Seasoned and oiled, and regularly played upon.  With the years, the sound of the ney just grows better and better.  I don’t know what I am going to do now.”

Boujemaa Razgui has performed and recorded with Beyonce, Shakira, Cirque du Soleil and is a regular with the Boston Camarata.

Photo above: Boujemaa Razgui with the Al Andalus Ensemble perfomring in Sevilla, Spain

PRlogPress release:
Musical instruments destroyed by TSA officials

Boston Globe – 1 January 2014:
Virtuoso’s flutes destroyed by US Customs

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