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Boxer Muhammad Ali’s son again detained at airport

Muhammad Ali Jr. was once again detained and questioned at an airport after a meeting with lawmakers to discuss a separate airport detention incident last month.
India TV News Desk Washington March 12, 2017 14:27 IST
India TV News Desk

Muhammad Ali Jr., the son of iconic boxer Muhammad Ali, was once again detained and questioned at an airport after a meeting with lawmakers to discuss a separate airport detention incident last month, his lawyer said Friday. 

He was briefly stopped and questioned at a Washington airport before being allowed to board a flight to Fort Lauderdale, a lawyer for the late heavyweight champion's son said.

Ali and his mother, Khalilah Camacho Ali, were stopped at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport after returning from Jamaica on February 7. They traveled to Washington on Wednesday without incident to speak to members of a congressional subcommittee on border security about that experience.

But attorney Chris Mancini said that when Ali attempted to board a JetBlue Airways flight home to Florida on Friday he was detained for 20 minutes. 

Mancini said Ali spoke to Department of Homeland Security officials by telephone and showed his driver's license and passport before he was allowed to board.

"None of this was happening Wednesday," Mancini said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon as he was traveling with the Alis. "Going to Washington obviously opened up a can of worms at DHS."

According to comments Mancini made to a local daily, authorities rejected his identification and repeatedly asked where he was from, before allowing the 44-year-old to board.

Ali was asked his date of birth, where he was born and his Social Security number. He was told that his Illinois-issued identification card was invalid for flying.

"The same state ID from Illinois that he travelled to Washington on was rejected," Mancini said.

A spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration acknowledged the agency confirmed Ali's identity before he boarded his plane.

Spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said Ali also was patted down because his jewelry set off a checkpoint scanner alarm.

Florida Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was on the same flight, tweeted a photo with Ali after he was allowed to board and wrote: "On way home on DOMESTIC FLIGHT Muhammad Ali Jr. detained AGAIN ... Religiously profiling son of 'The Greatest' will not make us safe."

The mother and son, both born in the United States, have said in interviews that they believe they have been stopped because they are Muslim with Arabic names. 

Earlier this week, they announced a campaign for religious freedom in the spirit of the boxing icon, supported by ex-boxing greats Evander Holyfield, Larry Holmes, Roberto Duran and others. They say they are opposed to President Donald Trump's travel ban, which they feel unfairly targets Muslims.

(With AP inputs)