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February 25, 2002

US Muslim students refused entry into the UK

Six American Muslim teenagers returned to the US Monday after being denied entry to the UK to attend al-Hirah College in Birmingham. Some alleged they were interrogated about their views on Usama bin Ladin.
“The immigration authorities were not satisfied that they had genuine intention to study,” a Home Office spokeswoman told The Muslim News, while confirming that they had been detained for 24 hours after being refused entry.
The spokeswoman said that the six students were detained after the pilot from Continental Airlines refused to take them back to the US on Sunday morning, but clarified that “no violence was involved.”
Zainab Abdullah, mother of the 16-year old Muhammad, the youngest in the group, said that she was shocked by the decision to refuse entry. She also expressed alarm that only three were taken to Solihull immigration detention centre and did not include her son.
It was later found that the other three were taken to Manchester immigration detention centre, including an 18-year old twin, who was separated from his brother.
In a telephone call from the US, Abdullah claimed that the students were interrogated on whether they supported Usama bin Ladin or al-Qaida and about their view on September 11 atrocity in New York by the police and said that they were only stopped because they were Muslim and Afro-Americans.
A spokesman for Continental Airlines confirmed to The Muslim News that the pilot did refuse to allow the six Muslims to return to the US on Sunday “because of their inappropriate behaviour at the gate, while waiting to board the flight” and not because they were Muslims. He did not elaborate on what “inappropriate behaviour” was. The Home Office spokeswoman said that there was no violence involved at the airport and that the students “were angry” because they were refused entry and wanted to stay in the UK to attend the College.
A spokesman from al-Hirah College, confirmed that the students had received a grant to attend the College, and they would be responsible for their accommodation and care and that they would be studying the National Curriculum and Islamic subjects.
Imam Ramee Muhammad, who arranged the visit of the students to study at al-Hirah College was angered at the way immigration officers were unwilling to await confirmation as the boys did not have any letter with them to verify their story. He alleged that the students who were held at Manchester Immigration Detention Centre “were asked about their views on September 11, Usama Bin Ladin and al-Qaida”. “They are young boys who have never travelled outside the US. They are not terrorists. They were treated this way because they are Muslims.”

Students who were detained and later sent back to the US:

Muhammad Khalid Abdulrashid, 18 (Newark New Jersey).
Muhammad Khalil Abdulrashid, 18 (twin brother)
Muhammad Abdul-Lateef (Newark, New Jersey), 18
Shareef Bradford (Newark, New Jersey)
Muhammad Abdullah, 16 (Highland Park, Michigan)
Monet Pugh (ditto),18

For further information contact us on 020 7608 2822 or 077 68 241 325. Please acknowledge The Muslim News when using the press release

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