‘Flying While Muslim’: Imam barred from US launches site documenting travel bans

Ajmal Masroor. © Leon Neal
An imam and TV presenter stopped from boarding a plane to America “because of a Facebook follower” has set up a website to support Muslims who have been barred from traveling because of their faith.

In December, Ajmal Masroor, 45, was prevented from traveling to New York after US officials told him his visa had been revoked. He was on his way to lead prayers and speak at two events.

Masroor, also a spokesperson for the Islamic Society of Britain, said he was told he “may have done something wrong.”

They were insinuating there was somebody in my Facebook group they wanted to talk to and don’t like,” Masroor told the Evening Standard.

There’s 28,000 people who follow me on Facebook. The whole idea of Facebook is that people have the right to engage with you if they want because you’re a public figure. I have a public page,” he said.

I was surprised, humiliated and isolated.”

The imam said several people had traveled to the US to see him speak.

Profiling people based on their religion, especially being a Muslim and flying makes a mockery out of what we call a democracy and freedom,” Masroor told BBC News on Wednesday.

After the incident, the imam launched the website ‘Flying While Muslim’ for other Muslims to share their experiences.

If you feel you have been unfairly treated by customs officers or anyone, we would like to know. Please report it,” the website states.

Contributors are able to report incidents anonymously.

Twenty people have already submitted cases of being turned away because of their religion, the TV presenter claims.

A spokeswoman for the US embassy declined to comment on Masroor’s case.

Masroor’s ban comes weeks after US presidential hopeful Donald Trump caused uproar by suggesting Muslims should be banned from entering the US.

Following his controversial comments, more than 565,000 Britons signed a petition calling for Trump to be banned from the UK.

Last year, Prime Minister David Cameron was urged to challenge the United States after a British family of 11 was stopped from visiting Disneyland in Los Angeles.

Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy said she is concerned about the growing number of British Muslims being stopped from entering the US for no apparent reason.

Creasy fears many UK Muslims are being “trumped.”

Online and offline discussions reverberate with the growing fear that UK Muslims are being ‘trumped’ – that widespread condemnation of Donald Trump’s call for no Muslim to be allowed into America contrasts with what is going on in practice,” she said.