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U.S. Authorities Wouldn't Let Muslim Family Fly To Disneyland

Disneyland (Photo by radiobread via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
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A Muslim family headed to Disneyland was not allowed to board their flight to Los Angeles by U.S. authorities at Gatwick airport in London. The British Muslim family of 11 had been planning to fly to Los Angeles on December 15, and then visit Disneyland, Universal Studios and cousins over the course of two weeks. However, U.S. authorities prevented the two brothers and their kids from boarding the plane despite the fact that they had already received travel authorization online, The Guardian reports.

The Department of Homeland Security failed to provide a reason as to why, but one of the family members, Mohammed Tariq Mahmood, thinks he knows the answer: "It's because of the attacks on America—they think every Muslim poses a threat."

Mahmood said he was traveling with his brother and nine children—who, of course, were upset at being denied a trip they'd been looking forward to for months. Mahmood also told The Guardian that the family was required to return the items they bought from the airport's duty-free stores before they were escorted out.

"I have never been more embarrassed in my life," he said.

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Mahmoud owns a gym in Walthamstow, a town in North East London. Mike Jervis, who also lives in the neighborhood, said that Mahmood is "a good businessman" who works with a charity for at-risk youth, according to the Washington Post.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he would look into the incident, according to his aides. British Labor MP Stella Creasy has also taken an interest in the case, saying in an article she wrote for The Guardian that other Muslims had reported being treated in a similar fashion. She also stated that neither American nor U.K. security services have followed up with her on what went wrong either.

Despite making enquiries, I've hit a brick wall too —except to get confirmation that the £9,000 [$13,340] they spent on flights will not be refunded. Norwegian Air's small print states that if you are refused entry it has no liability— and without any information from Homeland Security, the family cannot query whether this clause is invoked on fair or unfair grounds. Faced with no holiday, no explanation and no compensation, it is little wonder that festive cheer is in short supply and anger is growing.

She also mentioned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's call for Muslims to be banned from entering America, which she said that those in Parliament found "abhorrent." Cameron has stated that Trump's idea is "divisive, stupid and wrong," but said he would not ban Trump from the UK.

Creasy continued: "Now we should do more than shrug our shoulders at secretive American security policies that leave our constituents in such limbo. If the embassy won't answer to the family's [Member of Parliament], it should answer to their prime minister and he to us about what he is doing to ensure that no British citizen is being discriminated against for their faith on our shores."

Ajmal Masroor, a lecturer who lives in London, was also denied access to board a flight to New York. He said he was also given no reason as to why. "I am amazed how irrational these processes are but does USA care about what you and I think? I don't think so! It is the emperor and it does what it damn wills." he posted to Facebook.

He later posted that he had been invited by the U.S. Embassy to have a meeting "to clear up the mess they created," and that he would be posting more details soon.

Last month, four people were removed from a Spirit Airlines flight headed from Baltimore to Chicago after a passenger reported suspicious activity to flight personnel. Of the three men and one woman removed from the flight, at least two of them appeared to be Middle Eastern, according to several passengers. The suspicious activity turned out to be one of them watching a news broadcast on their cell phone.

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