*It happened earlier this month on Feb. 7, but we’re just n ow hearing about Muhammad Ali Jr. and his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the first wife of Muhammad Ali, having to deal with drama at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
After returning from a Black History Month speaking event in Jamaica, family friend and attorney, Chris Mancini says they were singled out by customs because of their Arabic-sounding names.
All it took for customs officials to decide not to hassle Camacho-Ali anymore was a pic she showed them of her and the her late ex-husband. Unfortunately, for Muhammad Ali Jr., 44, he didn’t have a photo of himself and his father so he had to endure several more hours of questioning, according to Mancini. Authorities repeatedly asked him, “Where did you get your name from?” and “Are you Muslim?”
“He said yes and he was directed to secondary inspection. He was there for almost two hours,” Mancini said.
Mancini says Ali Jr. was detained while officers were in and out of the room asking him a number of questions.
“He kept saying to them, ‘I’m Muhammad Ali Jr. I’m Muhammad Ali’s son.’ And he kept thinking as he put it that would seal the deal,” according to Mancini.
Even though Ali Jr. responded that yes, he is a Muslim, the officers kept questioning him about his religion and where he was born. Ali Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1972 and holds a U.S. passport.
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According to USA Today, when the contacted the US Customs and Border Patrol, a spokesman responded via email with this statement:
“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.”
Mancini makes a cogent point when he says the line of questioning is indicative of profiling and designed to produce answers that corroborate what officials want to hear. The bottom line is that neither Camacho-Ali or Ali Jr. have ever been subjected to detainment before, despite extensive global travel experience.
“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 said, referring to President Trump’s executive order signed Jan. 27 that instituted a ban for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Officials at the Fort Lauderdale airport did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.
Get MORE of this USA Today story at MSN News.