The US authorities have refused to let a British Muslim family board a UK flight to Los Angeles, amid Washington’s Islamophobic policies.
The family of 11 had been granted beforehand an online travel authorization for a flight on December 15 from London’s Gatwick Airport to spend their holiday at Disneyland and Universal Studios in southern California, but they were barred from boarding the plane on the day of departure by US homeland security authorities present at the airport, TheGuardian reported on Tuesday.
“It’s because of the attacks on America. They think every Muslim poses a threat,” said Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, who was supposed to travel along with his brother and nine of their children, aged between eight and 19, adding that they were given no explanation for the eleventh hour cancellation.
The case of the Muslim family was brought to light when Stella Creasy, the Labour MP for Walthamstow, where the family resides, wrote a letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron, asking him to intervene and to press US authorities after she “hit a brick wall” in her attempts to get answers from the US Embassy in London.
Creasy wrote in a Guardian article that an increasing number of British Muslims claim they have been treated in a similar way, adding, “It is not just the family themselves who are livid. The vacuum created by a refusal to provide any context for these decisions is fueling resentment and debate”.
“Online and offline discussions reverberate with the growing fear UK Muslims are being ‘trumped’ – that widespread condemnation of [US presidential candidate] Donald Trump’s call for no Muslim to be allowed into America contrasts with what is going on in practice,” Creasy added.
In response to Creasy’s letter, aides to Cameron promised that the premier would look into the case and respond in “due course”, an unnamed Downing Street spokeswoman told the British daily.
According to Mahmood, the airline, Norwegian Air, had told them that it would not refund the £9,000 ($13,340) cost of their flights.
None of the family members, who had ever been in trouble with police, were escorted out by the airport security personnel after they were obliged to give back every item they had purchased from the airport’s duty-free shops.
“I have never been more embarrassed in my life. I work here, I have a business here. But we were alienated,” Mahmood further said.
Anti-Islam rhetoric peaked among the American Republican Party candidates particularly after Trump, a billionaire developer and former reality TV star, called for a “complete” ban on Muslims entering the US.