A major row has erupted between UK and USA after a British Muslim family with 11 members was barred from boarding a flight to Los Angeles.
This comes after the Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump controversially suggested banning the entry of Muslims into the US.
His comments were criticised with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai publicly announcing that Muslims were welcome on the platforms they owned.
Labour MP Stella Creasy has called on the Prime Minister David Cameron to challenge the US on this matter.
According to a BBC report, the family, who is from Creasy’s Walthamstow constituency, had planned a holiday to Disneyland but were stopped at Gatwick Airport on 15 December.
Mohammad Zahid Mahmood said his family was given no reason why US officials had refused to allow them to board.
US officials, for their part, said travellers were not barred based on religious beliefs.
Downing Street has confirmed that David Cameron would respond to the issues raised.
Creasy told The Guardian, “It is not just the family themselves who are livid. The vacuum created by a refusal to provide any context for these decisions is fuelling resentment and debate.”
She later told BBC radio 5 live, a 24×7 news and current affairs radio station, that she was aware of four other UK cases of Muslims who were denied entry to the US.
She said, “Nobody knows why these people were stopped. We do know what the common denominator is between them. All of us agree we’ve absolutely got to be vigilant about tackling terrorism, and we’ve got to be clear prejudice hasn’t got a part to play in that.”
Mahmood had planned to visit their elder brother in southern California and go to the theme park, Disneyland.
He said UK Border officials told them at the departure lounge that they were not allowed to board the plane, despite all having authorisation to travel under the US Visa Waiver Programme.
Mahmood told the BBC: “We checked in, there were no problems. Just before the final check to get into the lounge we were singled out.
“A man from UK Border Force came and said, ‘I’m sorry you can’t board this flight. We received a call from Washington DC that we can’t allow this family to board the flight’.”
He told BBC Radio 5 live it seemed like it had been a clear case of discrimination.
“Because I have a beard and sometimes wear Islamic dress I get stopped and asked questions. I feel that is part of the deal of flying. I understand that,” he said.
“The fact that we were the only ones who were of Asian or Muslim appearance, it seemed embarrassing that we were the only ones taken out of the queue. For the children to take this in is very difficult.”
Aside from incurring a loss of £9,000 (approximately Rs 9 lakh) towards flight tickets, which the airline Norwegian told them they would would not be refunded, they were also forced to return everything they had purchased at Gatwick’s duty-free shops before being escorted from the airport.