A family friend and lawyer told Louisville's Courier-Journal that earlier this month, the son of boxing giant Muhammad Ali was detained at airport in Florida. At this point there is little information about why Muhammad Ali Jr. was detained, but he says that security agents asked him repeated questions about his religion over the course of two hours.
Ali was returning from a trip to Jamaica with his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, on Feb. 7 when they were both stopped at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. The two had been speaking at a Black History Month event in Montego Bay. Camacho-Ali was allowed to enter the country after she produced a photo of her with her ex-husband, but Ali — who had nothing to prove his relationship with his famous father — was detained by immigration officials.
Chris Mancini, the friend of the family, told the Courier-Journal that the mother and son had been pulled aside because of their Arabic sounding names. “Where did you get your name from? Are you a Muslim?" they asked. When Ali told them that he was Muslim, the officials continued to ask him questions about his religion and where he was born. Ali was born in Philadelphia and holds a U.S. passport. Mancini said that despite frequent overseas travel, this is the first time that the family has been stopped while trying to enter the country.
The U.S. Customs and Borders Protection told to Courier-Journal that they could not comment on the case: "Due to the restrictions of the Privacy Act, U.S. Customs and Border Protection cannot discuss individual travelers; however, all international travelers arriving in the U.S. are subject to CBP inspection."
All of this comes in the wake of President Donald Trump's executive order preventing travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. Mancini says the family is considering filing a federal law suit for what he said was profiling. "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," Mancini told the Courier-Journal.
As the Guardian notes, this is just the latest in a sting of incidents after Trump's executive order. The former prime minister of Norway was stopped in Washington Dulles airport and questioned over a trip he took to Iran three years ago. And Mem Fox, a well-known Australian children's book author, says that she might never return to the U.S. after being detained and interrogated for two hours.