The Slatest

Muhammad Ali Jr. Detained at Florida Airport, Repeatedly Asked About Religion

Boxing great Muhammad Ali throws a punch towards photographers during a press conference at a Jakarta hotel on October 21, 1996.


Immigration officials detained the son of the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali for nearly two hours after he arrived from a trip to Jamaica. Muhammad Ali Jr. was arriving with his mother at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7 after participating in a Black History Month event in Jamaica when they were suddenly pulled aside while going through Customs. Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the second wife of Muhammad Ali, was apparently quickly let go after she showed officials a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but her son was repeatedly questioned about his origin and religion, family friend and lawyer Chris Mancini told the Louisville Courier-Journal.

When Ali Jr. told immigration officials he is a Muslim, officers questioned him about his nationality even though he was born in Philadelphia and holds a U.S. passport. “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 said, referring to President Donald Trump’s executive order that barred citizen from seven Muslim-majority countries. Even though the ban has been blocked by the courts, Mancini said Ali Jr.’s experience demonstrates immigration officials are still enforcing the spirit of the measure.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it couldn’t comment on the incident “due to the restrictions of the Privacy Act.” Now Mancini says the Ali family is considering filing a lawsuit and they’re trying to figure out how many other people were subjected to religious-based questioning at the airport.

Earlier this month, the Trinidadian husband of journalist Stacy-Marie Ishmael was detained for more than three hours at the Fort Lauderdale airport. Border patrol agents reportedly asked him about his ethnicity and “how he got his name,” Ishmael wrote on Twitter.