British Muslim family refused from entering US

PM David Cameron’s office probes case of Muslim family with nine children prevented from flying to US for Disneyland visit

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Travellers pass a sign for Gatwick Airport in southern Britain, December 17, 2015

British Prime Minister David Cameron's office said on Wednesday that it is looking into the case of the British Muslim family who was prevented from flying to the United States last week.

The family, two brothers and their nine children, were restrained at London’s Gatwick Airport by immigration officials as they were about to fly to Los Angeles to visit Disneyland.

Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, one of the brothers, said that they were not given a reason for the last minute blockage.

The family had already checked in online and also received their boarding passes before they were stopped at the boarding gate.

Mahmood told the Guardian that he believed it was because US officials "think every Muslim poses a threat."

"Because I have a beard and sometimes wear Islamic dress, I get stopped and asked questions," Mahmood added in comments to the BBC.

"I feel that is part of the deal of flying."

Lawmaker Stella Creasy from the main opposition Labour Party has asked British PM Cameron to look into the case.

She wrote in her letter that the event was "fuelling resentment" within the British Muslim communities due to a lack of information from US authorities.

A spokesperson for Cameron said that "We are looking into the issue and the Prime Minister will respond in due course."

“The official who stopped them was from the US Department of Homeland Security – and in the ensuing furore other local residents have come forward to say that they, too, have been summarily refused entry to America,” Creasy wrote on the Guardian.

“What is the one thing these stories have in common? Religion,” she added.

Besides being given no reason for the detention, the family will not be paid back the £ 9,000 they spent for their flights.

The US Customs and Border Protection Agency said in a statement that "The religion, faith, or spiritual beliefs of an international traveller are not determining factors about his/her admissibility into the US."

It said that the US law lists more than 60 reasons for inadmissibility, including health reasons and prior criminal convictions.

Around 11,600 people were prevented from boarding flights to the US in the 2015 fiscal year.

The case of Mahmood’s family came after Donald Trump’s call to ban all Muslims entering the US.

“Online and offline discussions reverberate with the growing fear that UK Muslims are being “trumped” – that widespread condemnation of Donald Trump’s call for no Muslim to be allowed into America contrasts with what is going on in practice,” Creasy wrote.

TRTWorld and agencies