It’s been two days since the Guardian broke the ‘Disneyland family’ story; a woeful Christmas tale of American ‘Islamophobia’ and discrimination. An innocent Muslim family cruelly denied entry into the US by Homeland Security scrooges with no good reason, we were told.
Speaking to the Guardian, Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, who was travelling with his brother and nine of their children on a family holiday to Disneyland California, said: “It’s because of the attacks on America – they think every Muslim poses a threat.”
This morning, Labour MP Stella Creasy waded in on the furore, claiming the ‘Disneyland family’ had been “trumped” and calling for a “critique of American Republican primary political positioning”.
Linking the issue to Mr. Trump, anecdotally, she postulated that “a growing number of UK Muslim citizens say they have been similarly treated”, and the BBC believed her.
Ms. Creasy, MP for Walthamstow in East London, perhaps trying to redeem herself with Muslim constituents after voting for action in Syria, wrote a letter to David Cameron demanding action. A Downing Street spokeswoman promptly confirmed the Prime Minister was considering the issues, and would respond in due course.
When a former member of Hizbut al Tahrir – one of the largest global movements for an Islamic caliphate – tweeted her a similar tale of victimhood, she promised to lobby for him to be allowed into the US too.
— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) December 23, 2015
Today, however, it looks as thought the MP and the Guardian might just have jumped the gun.
One of the brothers was interviewed on LBC Radio. He explained that they had left their wives at home and traveled to the airport. “We were waiting in the queue at the gate and we were very close to getting on the plane”, he said.
“Then an announcement said they wanted to speak to Mr. Mohammad. There was no one else of Asian origin or who looked Muslim so I knew it was me.
“A gentleman said he was from British Border Control and he had a border control jacket on… He said there was something wrong with my ESTA [Electronic System for Travel Authorization] and that I wouldn’t be able to board.
“…He finally said they had had a call from Washington DC from homeland security”.
At first, Mr. Mohammad said he had no idea what the call could concern. But, when questioned, he let slip that his brother, “had a scenario 10 years ago when he went to see the holy mosque in Tel Aviv”, presumably referring to the holy mosque in Jerusalem.
“He did not get in any trouble, ” he said, but was detained because “he is a bearded man,” and was only held overnight because the guards did not work on Saturday. His brother’s wife later revealed that the BBC had reported that he had been detained for eight days.
Speaking later on the same show, she said: “My husband travelled to Israel with a couple of other gentlemen; a couple of older gentlemen and a couple of friends”.
She explained that it was “about 8 years ago, before any kind of war or any thing of that kind of nature was going on – you were allowed to travel to Israel”.
However, when pressed, she revealed that her husband was flat out denied entry to the country.
“Same as here, we weren’t given any answer”, she said, postulating: “Probably because there were young lads, they probably thought they were going to, you know, cause havoc or something.”
Unlike on this occasion, after being denied entry into Israel, “he didn’t make a fuss”, she said, and returned straight home.
She never explained why he had traveled there with the “older gentlemen” or group of “lads” and what “havoc” the authorities feared. But, arresting someone for merely “having a beard” is illegal in Israel, and being denied entry into the country not particularly common.
*** Update ***
CBS News reports two of the brothers in the Muslim family group, stopped from boarding a flight to the US, 'hit positive for terror checks'
— LBC Breaking (@lbcbreaking) December 23, 2015