The son of the renowned heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali has reportedly been detained once again by immigration agents at a U.S. airport, according to the family’s lawyer, Chris Mancini.
Mancini accused the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) of trying to cover up the incident by downplaying it.
Ali Jnr. was reportedly detained at Reagan National Airport on Friday, a day after he met with some members of Congress to discuss the effects of President Trump’s immigration policies, according to the New York Times.
Ali, 44, was trying to check in for a flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when he as stopped after giving his Illinois ID card to the JetBlue agent at the counter so that he can have his boarding pass.
According to Mancini, who was traveling with Ali and his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, after Ali gave the JetBlue agent his Illinois ID card, he was told that the DHS would have to check his identity. The computerized system had apparently flagged Ali.
The agent then put Ali on the phone with a DHS agent.
During the phone call, the DHS agent asked him for his date of birth, place of birth and his Social Security number. After he had answered the questions, the agent informed him that his Illinois-issued ID was not valid for flight check-in purposes, although it expires in 2019.
“The same state ID from Illinois that he traveled to Washington on was rejected,” Mancini told the New York Times.
Ali had to show his U.S. passport before he was allowed to go through security and board the flight.
Mancini claimed that Ali was detained for about 20 minutes. But TSA denied the claim, saying that he was “stopped” for only 11 minutes and that he was not “detained.”
In a statement, the TSA claimed that Ali was delayed at the security checkpoint for a few minutes due to alarm raised by the checkpoint scanner over his large jewelry. But he was cleared quickly and allowed to board the plane.
However, Mancini said the TSA was trying to confuse issues because Ali had not complained about being delayed at the security checkpoint, but only at the check-in when the JetBlue agent insisted on calling the DHS to confirm his identity.
“They are making up stories,” Mancini said. “We have never said anything about anything happening after he left the ticket counter.”
Mancini said Ali plans to file a complaint with the DHS and that he is considering a lawsuit.
“People need to start paying attention to what’s happening in our country. Our rights are being eroded.”
Muhammad Ali Junior claims he was "detained" by airport security over his name and Muslim faith pic.twitter.com/BzxKmg7B15— FOX&friends Weekend (@ffweekend) March 11, 2017
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), former chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), confirmed the incident with a tweet on Friday and uploaded a photo of herself and Ali. She was on the same flight with him.
The latest alleged incident follows a complaint by Ali that immigration agents detained him for nearly two hours at the Fort-Lauderdale International Airport in Florida. He accused TSA of detaining him because of his Muslim name.
According to the Inquisitr, immigration agents detained Ali on February 7, and questioned him closely about his Muslim name and his religion when he was returning to the U.S. after attending an event in Jamaica. According to his mother, Camacho-Ali, her son was detained by immigration officials because of his Arabic-sounding name.
Ali claimed that the agents asked him questions that showed hey were concerned about his Arabic-sounding name and Muslim religion.
“Where did you get your name from?”
“What religion are you?”
“Are you Muslim?”
Muhammad Ali Jr. spoke with Congress Thursday about being stopped at an airport. He was stopped again Friday. https://t.co/f4RCLhxnnr— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) March 11, 2017
He said the immigration agents detained him for nearly two hours.
Mancini insisted that the incident was due to Trump’s travel ban order, although Jamaica was not on the list of countries under the Trump administration’s travel ban.
“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.”
“I believe they were religiously and racially profiling me,” Ali said, while recounting his ordeal to House Democrats.
Muhammad Ali Jnr. was born in Philadelphia in 1972 and he is a U.S. citizen
[Featured Image by Scott Applewhite/AP Images]