23 Dec 2015

MP demands answers over Muslim family denied entry to USA

Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy calls on the Prime Minister to demand more information about why a British Muslim family were barred from flying to California for a holiday that had cost them £9,000.

Mohammad Tariq Mahmood and 10 members of his family were already at Gatwick Airport on 15 December, ready to board a Norwegian Airlines flight to Los Angeles, when they were approached by officials from the US Department of Homeland Security and told their authorisation to travel had been cancelled.

They had been planning to visit Disneyland in California.

Mr Mahmood said no reason had been given, but told the Guardian newspaper that he thought it was “because of the attacks on America – they think every Muslim poses a threat”.

Ms Creasy, the family’s MP, said she had not received any further information about why they had been barred and was therefore asking David Cameron to intervene to find out more.

Without knowledge of the reasons behind the decision, the family will be unable to recoup any of the £9,000 they had spent on the trip as the airline is not liable for anyone refused entry to the USA.


Writing in the Guardian, Ms Creasy said “the vacuum created by a refusal to provide any context for these decisions is fuelling resentment and debate.

“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 said that other people in her constituency had come forward to say they had also been abruptly refused entry to the USA.

She adds “for the sake of national security and national cohesion, the government must not look the other way as our citizens increasingly fear the possibility of flying sanctions without reparation.”

On 17 December, Bengali-born imam and broadcaster Ajmal Masroor posted on Facebook a description of how he was barred from a Virgin Atlantic flight to the USA, despite having a valid visa and having arrived with plenty of time for security checks.

Hearts and minds

Mr Masroor wrote “I’m baffled, annoyed and angry at the moment. USA has the right to issue and revoke visa – I fully understand that. However, not forwarding any reasons infuriates ordinary people.

“It does not win the hearts and minds of people, it turns them off.”

Mr Masroor later posted a link on his Facebook page to an audio recording of a sermon he had given on 13 December at the Palmers Green Mosque in which he discussed the hostility currently being faced by many Muslims.

In it he said “Muslims are not wanted anywhere”. Referring to the proposal by Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump that all Muslims be barred from America, Mr Mansoor said “these are very challenging times”.