US officials stopped the group of 11, including nine children who were planning to fly to Los Angeles from Gatwick at the Airport departure lounge.
A Labour MP has called on the Prime Minister to intervene after a British Muslim family at Gatwick Airport was prevented from flying to California. The group of 11, including nine children, was about to travel to Los Angeles on a dream holiday last Tuesday when they were approached by US Homeland Security officials in the departure lounge.
The officials told Mohammad Tariq Mahmood and his party that their authorisation to travel on the flight had been cancelled without further explanation. Labour’s Stella Creasy, who is the family’s local MP, has written to David Cameron to try to find out why the family was stopped. She also said a growing number of British Muslims claim they have received similar treatment.
It comes as Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump recently called for all Muslims to be stopped from entering the United States.
Mr Mahmood, who was travelling with his brother and nine of their children aged between eight and 19, said a week on they still had not been given a reason for the last-minute cancellation.
But he told The Guardian: “It’s because of the attacks on America they think every Muslim poses a threat.”The family has also reportedly been told by their airline, Norwegian Air, that the £9,000 cost of their flights will not be refunded.
Ms Creasy believes a lack of information from US authorities about why they were prevented from travelling is fuelling resentment within British Muslim communities.
She said: “It is not just the family themselves who are livid. “The vacuum created by a refusal to provide any context for these decisions is fuelling resentment and debate. “Online and offline discussions reverberate with the growing fear UK Muslims are being ‘trumped’ – that widespread condemnation of Donald Trump’s call for no Muslim to be allowed into America contrasts with what is going on in practice.” She also said there has been no further contact from either the UK or US security services to follow up any potential threat the family was perceived to be.
The family, from her Walthamstow constituency in northeast London, had applied for and were granted travel authorisation online a number of weeks before their flight.
Mr Mahmood said the children had been excited about the trip for months, and were devastated not to be able to visit their cousins in California and go to Disneyland and Universal Studios, as planned.
Ms Creasy has hit a “brick wall” in her own inquiries and has asked Mr Cameron to press US officials for an explanation as to why the Mahmoods were prevented from flying.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister would consider the issues raised and respond in due course.” The Home Office added: “It would be the airline that would stop passengers travelling rather than the border force.”