Washington has revoked business visa of a British imam in second such incidents in days when British Muslims were barred from flying to the United States.
The imam, Ajmal Masroor has accused the United States of enacting the anti-Muslim policies propagated by Republican presidential hopeful, Donald Trump, who prompted global condemnation this month when he pledged to ban Muslims from entering the US.
Masroor was stopped by US embassy staff from boarding a Virginia-bound flight at Heathrow airport last week. The State Department issued no explanation for revoking the visa of the imam who had travelled to the US multiple times this year alone.
“I went through all the security barriers, showed my boarding pass on my phone, I had my security check, bag checked and went all the way to the gates when I was taken aside by an American embassy staff,” he told the Guardian.
Masroor, who contested 2010 general elections Liberal Democrat party ticket, was supposed to lead the Friday prayers at a New York mosque and meet his friends and family there.
The Imam has said that he was used to being profiled and receiving unnecessary questioning and bag searches when flying to the US. “This time when I handed over my passport they took me aside and the US embassy began to question as why he was travelling to the US”.
“I’m afraid your visa has been revoked,” Masroor described how American embassy staff told him without giving an explanation. “In my mind, the refusal and revoking of my visa was calculated. For me it’s very callous.” he said.
“I think the problem is that Donald Trump is captaining later racism that is now prevalent in the American society. It is quite ironic given that America is in fact a society built by people immigrated there. I think the singling out of Muslims for this problem is not only by Trump but it’s a prevailing environment if you watch American media, you all the time see Muslims vilified, if you watch Hollywood films, you will see Muslims vilified, Muslims are portrayed as evil people”, Shabbir Rahmatullah Hassanally, a London-based political commentator told Press TV.
Hassanally said that the young generation not knowing the history of America or the WWII, often fell prey to hate mongering of their leaders such as Trump.
“You have over jealous people in the Homeland Security, the CIA and the NSA and even embassies across who have been following hidden racism. It’s not just Islamophobia but Muslims are the general target. The British government may make noises with Cameron probably saying it as real big problem and whatever but in reality, lets be explicit about this Tories have an ideology which is extremely Islamophobic and extremely racist. In fact not simply racist bit the fascist. They only care about the one-percent not if something happens to 99 percenter.”
The US embassy in London has said that it is in contact with Masroor to sort out the matter.
The news broke out just days after a British Muslim family heading for Disneyland was barred by US authorities from boarding a Los Angeles-bound flight at London’s Gatwick airport. The incident sparked angry reactions from UK ministers who are set to ask for an explanation from the US authorities.
Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, one of the family members, was travelling with his brother and nine of their children. The family spent £9,000 on tickets for the Disneyland flights but was not given an explanation as why they were not allowed to board the plane at Gatwick.
“We had our visas. We had our Estas – maybe because we are Muslim and had a Muslim name … they have not given us any other explanation. We have not been in trouble with the police before,” He told Sky News.
MP Stella Creasy has publicized the case saying she is "concerned about the incident happening against British Muslims". She said she hoped Prime Minister David Cameron would be able to assure her that “prejudice” was not becoming a factor in tacking national security.
“Nobody is suggesting that the Americans don’t have a right to monitor and manage who enters their country but as this is happening on UK soil, and does impact on UK citizens and how they feel, I think it is important that we have more scrutiny about what is going on,” Creasy added.