Prime Minister David Cameron is facing calls to intervene after a British Muslim family was halted from boarding a flight to the US, where they were planning to visit Disneyland. As Mohammad Tariq Mahmood and 10 family members queued in the departure lounge at Gatwick Airport, US Homeland Security officials approached the party and told them that their permission to board the 15 December flight had been revoked. They were offered no explanation on the refusal to stop them from travelling.
Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow in north east London, has written to Cameron to express her concern at the experience of a number of British Muslims who have been barred entry to the US, which is accompanied “by a refusal to provide any context for these decisions”. Writing in a piece for the Guardian, Creasy said the decisions to block entry to Muslims is “fuelling resentment and debate”.
Despite being offered no reason as to why they could not travel to California, Mahmood said the reason was quite clear. “It’s because of the attacks on America – they think every Muslim poses a threat,” he told the Guardian. Creasy said her efforts to secure an explanation from US authorities for her constituents had “hit a brick wall”, and she called on Cameron to step in.
The family had saved up for the holiday for months and were dealt a double blow by the airline, which said that it would not refund the £9,000 cost of the tickets. The blow was capped with further humiliation when Mahmood and his family were escorted back to the duty free shops and forced to return every item they had purchased. “I have never been more embarrassed in my life. I work here, I have a business here. But we were alienated,” he said.
Creasy outlined the consequences of incendiary remarks in the UK by US Republican candidate Donald Trump. “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,” Creasy wrote. “Our concern should be to offer more than a critique of American Republican primary political positioning. Because this isn’t happening in the US. It’s happening on British soil, at our airports and involving our citizens and challenging their sense of place in our society too.”