The son of the late legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was detained for hours by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for questioning in a Florida airport, and was allegedly asked, "Are you Muslim?"
Immigration officials admitted they held Muhammad Ali Jr., and his mother Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the second wife of Muhammad Ali, at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport earlier this month, but said he wasn't singled out because he's a Muslim, according to USA Today.
The two, who live in Deerfield Beach, Florida, were returning from a speaking engagement at a Black History Month event in Jamaica.
A family friend and lawyer, Chris Mancini, told Courier-Journal they were stopped because of their Arabic-sounding names.
Mancini said Camacho-Ali was released after she showed a picture she had with the boxer, but Ali Jr. was interrogated for nearly two hours, and was repeatedly asked, "Where did you get your name from?" and "Are you Muslim?"
A spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection was quoted as saying, "Due to the restrictions of the Privacy Act, U.S. Customs and Border Protection cannot discuss individual travelers; however, all international travelers arriving in the U.S. are subject to CBP inspection."
"We treat all travelers with respect and sensitivity," Customs spokesman Daniel Hetlage said. "Integrity is our cornerstone. We are guided by the highest ethical and moral principles … We have no interest in questioning anyone for two hours about their religion.
"With the number of Muslims flying in and out internationally every day, the math doesn't even support it."
Mancini, however, stated. "To the Ali family, it's crystal clear that this is directly linked to Mr. Trump's efforts to ban Muslims from the United States."
Mancini was referring to President Donald Trump's Jan. 27 controversial and wide-ranging executive order, which suspended refugee resettlement for 120 days and refugee resettlement from Syria indefinitely and temporarily halted travel of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days.
Mancini added that the family is considering filing a federal lawsuit.
However, some believe the incident was not reported correctly.
A blogger claims the story was "fake news" meant to attack President Trump. At the U.S. airports, blogger John Hinderaker writes, "there is no exception for people with 'Arabic names,' and no occasion to discuss religion."
"An American citizen returning to the U.S. doesn't get processed as an immigrant. He only has to submit a customs form and show his passport. At the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood airport, as at many others, this can be done using Automated Passport Control kiosks, without ever talking to a human being," he adds.