Another British Muslim but this time around an imam business visa was revoked without explanation as he tried to board a flight to America.
He has accused the US State Department of enacting the policies of Donald Trump “before he has received a single vote”.
Ajmal Masroor, 44, is the second British Muslim over the past week to report that he had been recently barred from flying to the US, saying he was stopped by US embassy staff from boarding a Virgin flight from Heathrow to New York last week despite having travelled to the US multiple times already this year.
The imam, who stood at the UK general election in 2010 as a Liberal Democrat candidate, had been due to lead Friday prayers at a mosque in Queens, New York, and says he had plans to meet friends and family. “I went through all the security barriers, showed my boarding pass on my phone, I had my security check, bag checked and went all the way to the gates when I was taken aside by an American embassy staff,”.
In the past week it has also emerged that a British Muslim family heading for Disneyland was barred from boarding a flight to Los Angeles by US authorities at London’s Gatwick airport, prompting complaints from their MP, Stella Creasy.
UK ministers are to demand an explanation from the US authorities as to why the British Muslim family was refused permission to fly to Los Angeles to visit Disneyland. Home Office sources said that inquiries would be made to enable the prime minister to respond to a letter from the Creasy, who has publicised the case and said she is concerned this is happening to a growing number of British Muslims.
Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, one of the family members turned away from the flight, was travelling with his brother and nine of their children. He told the UK Guardian that his brother was once stopped and questioned at Tel Aviv airport about 10 years ago while trying to enter as part of a Middle East tour.
According to a Reuters report, an unnamed US official said only one male member of the family had been deemed to be prohibited from flying. But because all 11 passengers had booked their travel together, they were all denied boarding at the instruction of the Customs and Border Protection agency of the US Department of Homeland Security.
In the latest case to emerge, Masroor said he was used to being profiled and receiving further questioning and bag searches when flying to the US. “Yet this time,” he said, “when I handed over my passport they took me aside.”
He said a man who said he was from the US embassy began to question him and asked him why he was travelling to the US. He described the official as “cold, calculated and very unhelpful”.
He was also asked about his itinerary and where he would be staying. “After some other frivolous questions, [the official] said: ‘I’m afraid your visa has been revoked’.”
Masroor added that when he asked further questions, the official said: “You must have done something wrong ,” before walking away. He claims to know of other British Muslims who have also been turned away.
Trump, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency, prompted global condemnation this month when he pledged to ban Muslims from entering the US. But the US Customs and Border Patrol, which posts officers at foreign airports, said that “religion, faith or spiritual beliefs of an international traveller are not determining factors about his/her admissibility into the US”.
To demonstrate that they can enter the country, CBP said applicants must “overcome all grounds of inadmissibility”. There are more than 60 grounds of inadmissibility, divided into categories such as immigration violations, security reasons and health.
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