A British man who was stopped along with 10 other members of his family from boarding a flight to the US said on Wednesday he believed his family had been singled out because they were Muslim.
Gym instructor Mohammed Tariq Mahmood said he and his family were getting ready to board a flight to Los Angeles for a dream holiday to Disneyland when they were stopped by US officials and told they could not board the plane.
"We checked in, we got our boarding passes, and we was waiting in the lounge and we was about to board the plane by then. We were in the queue while a gentleman came and introduced to us as border control and he wanted our passports. So we gave him our passports. He came back five minutes later and said 'there's a problem with the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization)," Mahmood said.
"So he took us out of the queue, out of the room, took us into the corridor and then he went again and he came back after 10 minutes and he said 'right, yup, there's definitely a problem with your ESTAs, you can't board the plane'. So upon asking him questions as to why this happened, he said he's got no knowledge of why this happened. All he understands is that they've had a phone call from Washington DC telling that there's a problem with the ESTAs and we're not to board the plane," said Mahmood.
Anti-Muslim sentiment is on the rise in the US, after attacks there and in Paris, as well as rhetoric from US presidential candidates like Donald Trump, who has called for a ban on Muslim immigration.