October 28, 2016

British Muslim family banned from US flight were linked to ‘extremist’ Facebook page

A BRITISH Muslim family barred from a flight to their dream Disneyland holiday has been linked to an extremist Facebook page.

Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, his brother and their nine children were refused permission to board a flight to California at Gatwick Airport despite having already checked in, leaving the family £11,000 out of pocket and in tears.

Initially Mr Mahmood felt his family had been discriminated against because of their religion as the blow came soon after US presidential hopeful Donald Trump called for a ban on all Muslims entering the US.

But now it has emerged his 18-year-old son Hamza Mahmood has been linked to page on social media website Facebook that is alleged to contain extremist material.

The family’s home address has also been linked to the page but Mr Mahmood says it is all a big mistake and his family has no links to extremism.

He said the Facebook page was credited to someone called Hamza Hussain and his son had been implicated as he has a similar name.

The 41-year-old said: “It is not my son’s Facebook page. It has a similar name, but not the same as my son’s. The page is also linked to our home address and that could be coincidence. I don’t know why it is linked there.

“The name is not even the same. The authorities must have linked it simply because of the name Hamza.”

The father also admitted his brother was once stopped at Tel Aviv airport and refused entry to Israel and he feels this may have added to the family’s problems.

He added: “They are bringing out this thing that my brother was stopped at Tel Aviv.

“But if that was the case it should have been flagged up when we filled out our ESTAs, which was seven or eight weeks ago.

“He was touring a few countries nine or 10 years ago and decided to visit the Grand Mosque. Then he was stopped because he has a big beard, and that.”

Pakistan-born Mr Mahmood said the family lost more than £11,000 when their holiday was cancelled and his children were left in tears as they had been counting down to the first big family holiday in more than 10 years.

He said at first airline staff refused to tell the family why they were being denied their dream holiday but eventually said they had had a call from Washington DC from Homeland Security saying Mr Mahmood wasn’t allowed to board.

Two of his nieces were allowed to fly out to meet relatives.

He added: “I felt humiliated. My kids were in tears. My son hasn’t left the house, he is so upset. We just had to go home and return everything we’d bought duty free. I’d never experienced anything like that before.

“I respect that these people need to react if there is a genuine concern but they need to make sure this concern is genuine. They can’t react like that just because we are Muslim. We are decent people.”

The gym owner, who lives in Walthamstow, east London, enlisted the support of his Labour MP Stella Creasy, who is urging Prime Minister David Cameron to get involved personally.

A spokesman for Norwegian Air said last night: “We can confirm that a group of passengers were denied the right to board a flight from London Gatwick to Los Angeles on Tuesday at the request of the US Department of Homeland Security .

“Norwegian fully complies with requests from the border controls of each country we serve.”

A spokesman for the US Customs service said: “Religion, faith, or spiritual beliefs of a traveller are not determining factors about admissibility into the US.”

Related posts