FORT LAUDERDALE-HOLLYWOOD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - The son and ex-wife of sports legend Muhammad Ali are speaking out after they were detained at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport because of their religious beliefs.
Muhammad Ali Jr. and his mother Khalilah Camacho-Ali said they were stopped at FLL earlier this month because they are Muslim. “I wasn’t thinking about a ban. I wasn’t thinking about anything. I just knew that this was a problem,” Camacho-Ali said.
The family of the late Muhammad Ali spoke out about a trip home from Jamaica, Tuesday, after they arrived at Miami International Airport, following a trip to New York.
“He says, ‘And what is your religion?’ and I said, ‘Are you kidding me?'” Camacho-Ali said. “That’s personal information, but if you need to know, I’m Muslim.”
According to Ali Jr., he and his mother had the appropriate paperwork along with their passports, but they were still detained for over two hours with little to no explanation.
Ali Jr. said that their questions were offensive. “‘Who gave you that name?’ And I’m like, ‘My mother and my father!'” he said.
“Then, they said that they were doing their job, and it’s not based on religion,” Ali Jr. said. “I said, ‘Well, if it wasn’t why would you ask me that question?'”
The family’s attorney, Chris Mancini, said the whole incident was upsetting for his clients. “They were outraged. These are U.S. citizens, born in the United States of America,” he said. “The family of the greatest, the champ, the greatest athlete that ever lived.”
Camacho-Ali said that this kind of profiling is frustrating because Ali Sr. left a legacy as an international ambassador of Islam. “He would tell everybody, ‘You gotta respect me, you respect the Christians, you respect the Jews, why not Muslims?’ You got to respect us all,” she said.
After what happened at FLL, the family is now looking into a suit against the Department of Homeland Security, according to Mancini.
“They believe people should respect one another,” Mancini said. “They will fight for respect.”
Camacho-Ali was asked how her ex-husband would react, she said, “Muhammad would really go off. He would say, ‘Look, I’m a Muslim, I’m [going to] be a Muslim. I don’t care what nobody says.'”
A representative for U.S. Customs and Border Protection would not talk in detail about this incident but did say that the agency does not discriminate based on religion.
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