Shortly after President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning nationals from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, the son of iconic boxing champion and civil rights activist, Muhammad Ali, was detained for nearly two hours at a Florida airport and interrogated about his religion and the origin of his name. Although U.S. customs officials initially also detained Muhammad Ali Jr.’s mother, they immediately released her after she showed them a photo of her with the legendary boxing champ.
Returning from a speaking engagement at a Black History Month event in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Muhammad Ali Jr. and his mother Khalilah Camacho-Ali landed at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on February 7, when immigration officials took them into custody. As the second wife of Muhammad Ali, Camacho-Ali presented the officers with a photograph of her with her ex-husband and was released from custody, but her son remained detained for an hour and 45 minutes.
According to the family’s attorney, Chris Mancini, federal agents repeatedly asked Ali: “Where were you born?” “Are you a Muslim?” and “Where did you get your name from?”
Born in Philadelphia in 1972, Ali holds a U.S. passport and lives in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Although his father was born with the name Cassius Clay Jr. in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1942, he later changed his name to Muhammad Ali after converting to Islam.
On January 27, President Trump signed an executive order banning nationals from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days while also temporarily suspending the refugee program. Several Muslim majority countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Egypt, were excluded from the travel ban due to the fact that Trump’s organization has conducted business or pursued potential deals in those countries.
“To the Ali family, it’s crystal clear that this is directly linked to Mr. Trump’s efforts to ban Muslims from the United States,” Mancini asserted. “This is classic customs profiling.”
During her son’s detention and interrogation, Camacho-Ali reportedly ran through the airport begging for help. Local police refused to assist her due to the fact that her son was in federal custody.
“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 recently told The Los Angeles Times.
According to Mancini, the Ali family is currently considering filing a federal lawsuit while seeking out others who received similar discriminatory treatment as Ali and his mother.