The son of the late boxing great Muhammad Ali was detained at a Florida airport earlier this month and asked about his religious preferences, a family friend says.
According to reports, border agents pulled the 44-year-old Ali aside for secondary questioning at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb 7. as he and his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, returned from a trip to Jamaica.
Immigration officials let Camacho-Ali go after she showed them a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but her son did not have such a photo. Officials held and questioned Ali Jr. for nearly two hours, repeatedly asking him, “Where did you get your name from?” and “Are you Muslim?”
When 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.
“This is an outrage,” said the family’s lawyer, Chris Mancini, a former federal prosecutor. “I don’t know what is going on with Mr. Trump’s claim that his ban is not religion-based.”
“We do not discriminate on the basis of religion — that’s been one of the basic, foundational principles of life in America since this country was founded — and then along comes Donald Trump, who pledges in his campaign that he’s going to ban all Muslims,” Mancini said.
During his first week in office, Trump signed an executive order that temporarily suspended travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations with ties to terrorisim to the U.S. That order has been blocked by federal courts, but administration officials say they will soon introduce new travel restrictions.
Ali was held for about 2 hours be fore immigration officials released him.
Multiple outlets have reached out to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for comment, which has simply said, “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.”
The Ali family is considering filing a federal lawsuit against the government for profiling and discrimination.