‘Are You Muslim?’ Muhammed Ali’s Son Detained At Florida Airport

President Donald Trump’s executive order regarding the travel and immigration ban — referred to some as a “Muslim ban” — is legally tied up in the courts, which means airport officials aren’t under orders to detain refugees, immigrants with visas, and green card holders from seven countries with a population that is mostly Muslim. However, as claims of harassment and detainment from travelers continue to rise, the latest harassment accusations involved the son and former wife of a celebrity and sports legend who is a natural-born U.S. citizen of this country.

Ali Family Friend Blames Trump For Detainment

TheCourier-Journal reported that earlier this month, Muhammed Ali, Jr., son of the legendary boxer, was detained at a Florida airport and asked point blank if he is a Muslim. Ali Jr. and his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, were targeted because of their Arabic-sounding names, according to their lawyer and family friend Chris Mancini. According to Mancini, he and the Ali family feel President Donald Trump is directly responsible for their airport nightmare.

“To the Ali family, it’s crystal clear that this is directly linked to Mr. Trump’s efforts to ban Muslims from the United States.”

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This Is The First Time Anyone From The Ali Family Has Had Customs Issues

The two were returning from a speaking engagement for Black History Month in Montego Bay, Jamaica, when Ali Jr. was detained for approximately two hours while Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport officials asked him repeatedly about the origins of his name and if he was Muslim. His mother was released by immigration officials after showing them a photo of herself with her ex-husband Muhammed Ali. Unfortunately for Ali Jr., he wasn’t carrying a photo of him and his father, so he was held for by customs and interrogated after confirming that he is Muslim, like his father. While Ali Jr. was detained, his mother was frantically asking for where her son had been taken and begging local officials for help, but they had no jurisdiction to intervene.

travel ban protesters defend muslims
A little girl in Scotland holds protest signs against President Donald Trump’s travel ban order. [Image by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images]

Not only is Ali Jr. not a refugee or green card holder from one of the seven primarily Muslim countries in the proposed “Muslim ban,” he has been a U.S. citizen from birth. Muhammed Ali, Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1972 and holds a U.S. passport.

Ali’s Lawyer States Detainment Based Solely On His Religion

At this time, neither U.S. Customs and Border Protection nor the Fort Lauderdale airport responded directly to media comment requests regarding the Ali family allegations, other than the U.S. Customs and Border Protection citing restrictions from the privacy act that prevent them from commenting on the specific incident. However, they noted that “all international travelers arriving in the U.S. are subject to CBP inspection.”

While inspecting international travelers is nothing new in any country, what is disturbing to the Ali family and Mancini is that the screening process seemed directly tied to a religious test and questioning. Neither Ali Jr. nor his mother has ever been detained before in customs despite years of extensive international travel. Mancini put the blame for the airport detainment and religious questioning squarely at the feet of President Trump and his executive order signed January 27 that incited numerous protests and resulted in what looks to be a lengthy court battle that may go to the Supreme Court.

muhammed ali with a muslim girl in afghanistan 2002
Muhammed Ali visited Afghanistan in 2002 as a “U.N. Messenger of Peace.” [Image by Paula Bronstein/UNICEF/Getty Images]

Mancini said the Ali family is considering a federal lawsuit, and gathering information about how many other people have experienced similar religion-based interrogations despite being U.S. citizens and holding U.S. passports. That disclosure may hint at a possible class action lawsuit in the future. Mancini compared the airport’s actions to the controversial policy of racial profiling, where police officers question and detain individuals as suspects based on race.

“Imagine walking into an airport and being asked about your religion. This is classic customs profiling.”

[Featured Image by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research]

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