Legendary 20th century athlete Muhammad Ali’s son was detained for hours at a Florida airport and questioned about his religion, according to a family friend who is a former prosecutor.
Chris Mancini told local reporters Muhammad Ali Jr., 44, was traveling with his mother and Ali’s second wife, Khalilah, when they were stopped and separated by immigration officials at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7.
Khalilah Ali showed the agents a picture of herself with the Champ, and was not detained, Mancini said. Ali Jr., however, was taken to a room and questioned about where he got his name from and if he was Muslim, despite having no criminal record and carrying a valid U.S. passport.
The incident is but one example of American citizens subjected to scrutiny for having Muslim names or clothing. Such instances have reportedly escalated since President Donald Trump’s executive order to tighten immigration policy and his unsuccessful attempt to ban Muslim nationals of several countries from entering the U.S.
“This is an outrage,” Mancini told the Miami New Times. “I don’t know what is going on with Mr. Trump’s claim that his ban is not religion-based. We do not discriminate in this country based on religion.”
Walfredo Ruiz, communications director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) Florida branch, told Anadolu Agency the incident was evidence of a “systematic way of oppressing Muslims in America”.
Ruiz added that pulling aside public figures “whose identities are easily verifiable openly demonstrates the lack of coordination in the borders”.
“That is happening to academics; that is happening to scientists that work in Silicon Valley; that is happening to Defense Department contractors,” Ruiz said.
“Intelligence agencies are in total chaos,” he said. “The only thing they have organized is to stereotype Muslims.”
Muhammad Ali, one of the most influential sports figures of the 20th century, passed away last June at the age of 74.