UK Muslim family flying to US not allowed to board flight

LONDON • Prime Minister David Cameron has been urged to intervene after a British Muslim family was prevented from flying to the United States for a Disneyland trip.

The family of 11 was stopped from boarding their flight to Los Angeles at London's Gatwick Airport on Tuesday last week by immigration officials.

Mr Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, who was travelling with his brother and nine of their children, said the officials gave no reason for blocking their travel plans. But he told the Guardian newspaper 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," Mr Mahmood added in comments to the BBC. "I feel that is part of the deal of flying."

The family has also been unable to secure a refund for the cost of the flights, around £9,000 (S$18,860).

STOPPED AND QUESTIONED

Because I have a beard and sometimes wear Islamic dress, I get stopped and asked questions.

MR MOHAMMAD TARIQ MAHMOOD, who was supposed to fly to the US with his brother and nine of their children

Mr Mahmood's local lawmaker in London, Ms Stella Creasy of the opposition Labour Party, has asked Mr Cameron to look into what happened. Mr Cameron's office confirmed that the Prime Minister would respond to her request.

"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," Ms Creasy wrote in yesterday's Guardian.

"We should do more than shrug our shoulders at secretive American security policies that leave our constituents in such limbo."

US presidential hopeful Donald Trump was slammed earlier this month for suggesting an entry ban for Muslims to the US after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, by a radicalised Muslim couple.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2015, with the headline 'UK Muslim family flying to US not allowed to board flight'. Print Edition | Subscribe