Mohammad Tariq Mahmood (photo: South West News Service)
One week after Mohammad Tariq Mahmood’s extended family of 11 was denied boarding in London’s Gatwick Airport, the Muslim British family has not been told why their trip to Disneyland was trashed at the last minute.
“The only explanation I can think of is that my name is Mohammed,” the 41-year-old owner of a London gym told the Washington Post. There were reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) blocked one of the brothers, not the entire family, but no official statement.
CBS News was told that one of the brothers was refused entry into Israel two years ago, and the Facebook account of Mahmood’s teenage son has links to terrorist websites. It reportedly lists some employment history with job titles “supervisor at Taliban and leader at al-Qaeda.”
Mahmood told the Daily Mail it wasn’t his son’s Facebook page, but acknowledged it appeared to have been created by someone in his home. He suggested they might have been hacked, or the site was a joke. He would like Prime Minister David Cameron to get the Americans to explain themselves and reimburse him for his tickets.
No story of the family’s plight—brothers lost $14,000 they spent for airplane tickets to take their nine children, ages 8 to 19, on the trip of a lifetime to California, the Grand Canyon and beyond—failed to mention Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Stella Creasy, a Labor Party member in the British Parliament, told NPR, “U.K. Muslims believe they are ‘being Trumped,’ ” referring to his declaration a couple weeks ago that if elected President he would, at least temporarily, stop all entry of Muslims into the country. That would include U.S. citizens trying to return home.
Creasy warned in a Guardian op-ed that U.S. policies and pronouncements, and incidents like this, could turn travel to the former colonies into “a nightmare for too many of our citizens and that should worry us all.”
Prominent Imam Ajmal Masroor, a British Muslim businessman who ran for office as a Liberal Democrat in 2010, also said this week that authorities revoked his U.S. visa and stopped him from flying from Heathrow to the United States. Masroor said he had flown to the U.S. often and recently, and was going to lead prayers at a mosque in Queens, New York.
He told a reporter for London’s Telegraph he knew of 20 other Muslim families in similar situations and then the problem seemed to be accelerating the past few weeks.
As of 2013, Homeland Security was said to have 47,000 suspicious people, including 800 Americans, on its no-fly list. The U.S. didn’t formally acknowledge the list existed until late last year and does not reveal who is on it.
That leaves a lot of room for concerns about racial, ethnic and religious profiling in a country where Trump goes up in the polls for insulting and threatening women, minorities, immigrants, LGBT members, people with disabilities and Muslims.