We offer three vignettes of travelling to the U.S. in recent days.
1. The son of Muhammed Ali is detained at Ft. Lauderdale
“Where did you get your name from?”
“Are you Muslim?”
These were the questions asked of Muhammad Ali Jr. at Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport on February 7, before being detained for “several hours” by immigration and customs officials. Yes, that’s Muhammad Ali Jr., as in the son of the Champ, one of the greatest athletes and humanitarians to ever walk the earth. That’s Muhammad Ali Jr., as in the son of a man whose funeral in June was televised across the nation; a man who was lionized by political leaders who are now turning a blind eye to — or actively defending — what’s happening to this country. That’s Muhammad Ali Jr., detained for hours in the country of his birth, 20 minutes from his house because of those two questions: “Where did you get your name from?” and “Are you Muslim?” He answered, “My dad was the heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali,” and, “Yes, I certainly am.”
They didn’t believe his answer to the first question, and could not abide the answer to the second.
2. A British schoolteacher is denied entry on a trip with his schoolchildren
A British Muslim schoolteacher travelling to New York last week as a member of a school party from south Wales was denied entry to the United States.
Juhel Miah and a group of children and other teachers were about to take off from Iceland on 16 February on their way to the U.S. when he was removed from the plane at Reykjavik. The previous week, on the 10 February, a U.S. appeals court had upheld a decision to suspend Donald Trump’s executive order that temporarily banned entry to the country from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The trip proceeded as planned but pupils and colleagues were left shocked and distressed after the maths teacher, a British citizen who had valid visa documentation, was escorted from the aircraft by security personnel.
3. A 70-year-old Australian children’s book author is interrogated on her 117th trip to the U.S.
The Australian children’s book author Mem Fox has suggested she might never return to the U.S. after she was detained and insulted by border control agents at Los Angeles airport.
Fox, who is famous worldwide for her best-selling books including Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes and Possum Magic, was en route to a conference in Milwaukee earlier this month when she was stopped.
She told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation she was questioned by border agents for two hours in front of a room full of people — an experience that left her feeling like she had been physically assaulted.