Muhammad Ali, Jr. Detained at the Border, Questioned About His Religion

Muhammad Ali Jr. — son of the great boxer who passed away last year — was traveling with his mother back from Jamaica earlier this month where she had been giving a talk about black history. He says that he was detained for two hours and questioned twice about his religion.

His mother, however, wasn’t detained when she produced “a picture of herself with her ex-husband,” but Muhammad Ali Jr. wasn’t carrying one of himself. Apparently a photo with Muhammad Ali is a ‘get out of ICE detention free’ card while the name Muhammad Ali Jr. is not.

[I]mmigration officers asked Ali Jr. for his full name, date of birth, and religion. They held him for 30 minutes, then separated him from his mother, and took him to a small room. An officer returned a half-hour later and again asked him his religion, Mancini says. He was held for about an hour more before being released.

This is, of course, his side of the story. Still.. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement: floats like a butterly, stings like a bee?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is all getting to be too much. We are losing friends around the world by the day.. I doubt alienating over 1 BILLION muslims worldwide is going to make flying and traveling safer. Just short sided people. I’ve cut back on a lot of unnecessary travel because I feel we’re heading into uncharted waters and a lot of anti-Americanism. Very unfortunate.

  2. I hardly consider the Rupert Murdoch owned NY Daily Post left wing and they reported it this afternoon. What’s fake is your brain. Nice try.

  3. News like this probably blown out of all proportion does nothing for the USA but just more negativity, no wonder many are heading to live in NZ and Australia.

  4. ‘Immigration officers’ are hardly the right people to do the questioning that is mentioned in this article. They are as bright as promoted TSA types. Not exactly trained FBI types. No people skills either generally.

  5. The probably confused him with Muhammad Ali Jinnah, deceased former president of Pakistan. It’s an easy mistake to make so we should give these clowns a break.

  6. Talking about U.S. immigration officers? It can go any direction. I get a little uneasy everytime I have to go through immigration because I know I can be questions for anything.

    They normally ask 5 questions and if you answer any of them that raise a red flag… good luck is all I can say.

  7. How long before tourism starts taking a dive, anyone remotely brown skinned must be thinking twice about visiting the US, though MAGA really means Make America White Again so maybe that’s Bannons intention.

  8. this is the new normal for muslims or muslim sounding names unfortunately. I got second screening 3 out of 5 trips to the US last year and none elsewhere around the world. so relieved I won’t be having any US biz trips this year.
    most muslims I know who have to travel to the US have made peace with such situations and allow extra time before meetings etc.
    the first time is the most unsettling because the agents aren’t the most polite but you get the drill second time onwards.
    can’t blame ignorance.

  9. Well reported Gary. And some excellent comments apart from the scumbag ‘Bannon’

    Look how far we’ve come in reverse. Mark these words now, and come back in 12 months to see reality compares.

    President Bannon and his puppet are implicitly inciting and hoping for a terror attack on American soil by invoking the bigotry in order to validate an almighty war. Can you hear the words? Military to unseen levels, nuclear might. America first?

    Bannon himself has gone on record stating the apocalypse is inevitable a year or two back. He is now running this country. A sick racist and a mentally ill president doing what he says, with their fingers on the nuke button, spoiling for a fight.

    What could possibly go wrong.

    Wake up non redneck scum and help spread the obvious word.


  10. @tim It has to do with air transportation, flying. Gary can’t dumb it down to the Trump level. Stop reading if you must.

  11. Andy,
    You remind me of my youthfulness self, lacking in maturity, tact and grace. Next time take a breather, maybe even sleeping on it. Perhaps, it just might preclude you from spewing such hatred to fellow readers.

  12. Thank you Andy for well articulated thoughts. Is it Fake news? Granted, its one side of the story but the realities exist. Lets remember the Lies that spewed from the candidate who eventually won by losing the popular vote of the People. People can turn their backs on it but this hatred and disregard for the Constitution will become the norm. Never in my life have I seen such blatant hatred for the people and institutions within our own borders.

  13. AJ said: “this is the new normal for muslims or muslim sounding names unfortunately. I got second screening 3 out of 5 trips to the US last year and none elsewhere around the world.”

    Was Trump prez last year? Maybe some of you are overreacting a bit by blaming this all on Trump? Sounds like Obama must have been racist and mentally ill as well.

  14. @Ty,

    Fill me in on when our presidential campaign started and when Trump started spewing his hate?

    Words have power, the hate that Trump spewed during his campaign speeches had effects, this sad era did not simply start when Trump moved into the White House.

    AJ is be telling us about that hate.

  15. After years of Gary posting about how stupid and demeaning the TSA security theatre is, today we have an unverified report of more of the same, just this time including the word Muslim, and now it’s all about Trump and Bannon’s “fascism’. Including trolls here who blame TSA harassment from last year, when Trump was just one of 16 people in the Presidential Primary, on Trumpism.

    Eight more years of this incessant and stupid left wing carping is not a happy prospect. But I’ll take that any day over more of Bill and Hillary selling out the country for “donations” to their “charity”.

  16. At least B & H’s charity did good work unlike Trump and his Russian oligarch business partners who do nothing but line their own pockets with the people’s cash. This is all going to end very badly and unfortunately the U.S. reputation is suffering around the globe for it. I’m limiting my international travel unless it’s absolutely necessary to go.

  17. @Robert Hanson,

    How many years did Trump question Obamas birth place and his and religious affiliation? Trump worked long and hard at building the hate that he now “owns”.

  18. @Als,

    I’m brown skin and I have been subject to random screening almost every single time since 2002. I don’t remember Trump being in the political spectrum leave alone running for the president during that time.

    I even remember CBP asking me questions like whats your purpose of visit to USA while I was presenting my US passport and yes this happened in 2010 and Trump was not POTUS at that time.

    More people these days are suffering from TrumpOphobia.

  19. @Mark, B & H did good work??? Maybe you should visit Haiti and ask them if they agree with your thoughts… How come CF that was over flowing with money for the past couple of years is suddenly running low and dry since she lost the election??

  20. We travel to Europe a lot for leisure. During the Gulf war we sowed Canadian flags on our luggage and learned the Canadian national anthem for an Eastern European trip as we did not know how we would be received. Now we hide our passports, be careful of the clothes we select for the trip and insist we are Canadians. Luckily our personalities and conduct fit with the Canadian culture and we are white and talk hockey.

    As the world becomes more Xenophobic our travel choices keep narrowing, Pretty soon Canada and Mexico will not want us either and we’ll be stuck living in the war zone of the US. So glad we did not have children as the American dream is over and American exceptionalism was a propaganda stunt. Tired of being American but no other country will take us once we were over 55,

    Sad for 51% of us and deserving for the other 49%.

  21. @Als, Obama has too many mystery, which was the reason he was questioned by many for a long time.
    He took the religion from his mother but never took out the name Hussein from his name though it was not his father’s original name and infact Baraka Hussein Obama Sr. even changed his religion to Barack Obama Sr. and his religion from Islam to Anglicanism to atheist finally.
    Yet former president Obama never changed or took out Hussein from his name.
    Obama was hardly with his father and in fact he last met him when he was 10 year old, was raised by white mother and white grandparents yet his circle is not of white.

    If I’m talking my mother’s religion and playing my dad’s race card while never being with dad but yet continue to use his former muslim name even after he himself have changed his name and religion, people will suspect me. Don’t they??

  22. @BlackHill

    I was going to say that had I been questioned entering the country on a US Passport as you have I would support the idea that there’s a problem (race testing?) with our countries border controls. Following that I would be most upset with the pattern of hate that Trump has spewed which increases the problem you talk about by adding religion as a test (added with the race test you talked about – i.e. being brown skinned).

    To accept that as the norm and not call out those who work at increasing hate of certain religions and races – i.e. Trumps actions – well, it’s just not American.

    As to your examples of why you and others have questioned Obamas citizenship and religion – you need to step back and check up on the definition of “conspiracy theories”.

  23. @Als,

    I understand how you feel regarding the crimes committed in the name of race and religion and I strongly condemn it but I disagree that it’s happening once since Trump came into power or started running for presidency. Crimes committed in the name of religion and race goes back to the origin of human. Many Sikh peoples were killed and attacked immediately after 9/11 just because they happen to wear turban but they do not belong to the same religion, also their country of origin was completely different from those who committed the crime.

    You can name anything and everything as conspiracy theories including moon landing, climate change, federal reserve and even trumpophobia.

  24. When a Govt start targetting people based on their religion/race/culture/skin/orientation/weight/handicapped, it leaves a “permanent” scar. Remember how the Japanese citizens were rounded up during the second world war? Same things are starting to happen!

    Our xenophibic/bigot/racist Govt is now slowly becoming like Hitler’s facist or Stalin’s Gulag regime. They are trying to shut down free press and only allow “puppet” press (i.e. Fox BadNews) for press briefings.
    Only our Courts can stand up to the Tyrant. Hoep they don’t become “puppet/Kangaroo” courts like the third world Dictatorships..

    This all will leave permanent scar in our History.

  25. During Clinton time the economy was great, we had budget surplus, people, even in politics, were relatively civil to each other even though they disagreed, and peace (with the occasional bombing of poor ´ol Iraq) reigned.

    All this has changed now and it is affecting everyone travels and it is about to get worse with Trump/Bannon being at the helm.

  26. What a bunch of garbage you are spewing BlackHill. Just read newspapers around the globe and you’ll see the damage being done to U.S. credibility. Foreign leaders don’t trust Trump and they don’t trust his cabinet members who claim certain things only to have him contradict them the following day. He is not making the country any safer and he’s only creating opportunities for all terrorists groups to recruit more people. I’m sure it won’t take long for his new national security advisor to quit. He’s too patriotic and too smart to put up with Trump & Bannon’s BS. Look for lots of cheap flight deals in the future as people become too afraid to even get on airplanes and go anywhere.

  27. Kalboz please explain the destruction of poor ‘ol Libya for us. Spoiler: Obama says it was the biggest mistake of his 8 years. That’s quite the understatement, but Obama gonna Obama. At least he was smart enough to listen to all of his bipartisan economic advisers who told him to adopt the Republican policy of no new taxes, thus leading to the economic recovery people like to crow about.

  28. It’s sad to me that EVERYTHING is now politicized. Reasonable people can disagree as to whether US Customs personnel should profile (I think they should, but then I’m not Muslim), but it’s obvious that this story about Muhammad Ali is untrue. Read the full wire story and you’ll easy see why. The fact pattern is just unbelievable: as in it makes no sense. You’d have to believe that the Customs folks were not only racist, but complete idiots. Like letting Ali’ wife go because she has a photo with the Champ but detaining his son — named Muhammad Ali Jr” — because he has no photo? Yeah, sure. But given how so many people now see everything in ideological terms, they’re susceptable to believing nonsense.

  29. How to tell if you are living in a ‘Fascist Dictatorship’: Post on your social media page that “we are all living in a Fascist Dictatorship”. If the secret police show up at 3am and arrest you, and quite possibly your family members as well, then you are. If nothing at all happens to you, you are not. 😉

    In North Korea, a true Fascist Dictatorship, you don’t even have to say anything. Just fail to clap loudly enough when the Dear Leader speaks, and you, and yes 3 generations of your family, will be sent to a true concentration camp where there is a 25% death rate each year.

    The last concentration camps we have had in the US were put in place by a Liberal Democrat President: FDR.

    I find it very ironic that the most hate filled comments here are from the anti-Trumpers who spout off about his supposed “hate filled bigotry”. Just as the only ones actually creating violence are the self styled “anti-fash” anarchists, who are blocking streets, breaking windows, burning limos, and beating up people who in some cases may be Trump supporters, but in many cases are merely suspected to be since they are “white”.

    All those rabid anti-Trumpers have to do to see true hate is to look in a mirror.

  30. @iahphx… how do you know it’s not true? Even Rupert Murdoch’s conservative NY Daily Post covered the story. CBP are just like everyone else in society. Some are really good and some are complete idiots. Fortunately being Global Entry I no longer need to deal with them. If it is true it’s inexcusable since he is a U.S. citizen with a U.S. passport unless of course he was suspected of committing a crime then it’s a completely different story. Since this has been covered by both left leaning and right leaning media outlets it should be considered credible unless you have proof to the contrary.

  31. @paul and, really, all traveling Americans…

    Don’t hide the fact that you are from the US, instead let people know that you’re a proud American who is very embarrassed by the election, behavior, and policies of current pseudo-president.

    It’s important for the world to know that most US citizens DON’T support our current administration.

  32. @Robert Hanson

    You apparently only get your info from a small set of right-wing sources. That’s unfortunate because it leaves you ignorant, and when you post from ignorance it makes you look like a fool.

    Just in the past week we’ve had VERIFIED stories of Jewish cemeteries getting desecrated, nazi and racist graffiti on churches, and various other violent threats.

    And you must’ve missed that guy in Kansas who murdered an Indian man and wounded two others after shouting “get out of my country!” Again, VERIFIED.

    Robert, you seem a lot like that kid in college biology class who claims that fossils are fake and evolution is the devil’s lie.

    You get to believe whatever nonsense you wish. But when you open your mouth in front of informed, intelligent people and claim something that is well known to be false then you should expect scorn and ridicule.

  33. @Gadfly “VERIFIED stories of Jewish cemeteries getting desecrated”. And what does that have to do with what I posted about that we are not living in a Fascist Dictatorship? Vice President Mike Pence visited that cemetery and helped other volunteers clean it up. Then CPAC opened the other day with a prominent message that the alt-right is not welcome there. What does ” anti-Jewish” anything have to do with a POTUS whose daughter married a Orthodox Jew (Trump publically says “She married well”), whose Orthodox Jewish son in law is a trusted close advisor, and whose grandchildren are being raised Jewish? Not to mention that Trump and Bibi Netanyahu are BFFs. 😉

    Where the heck do YOU get YOUR news from?

    Yes, Nazi Graffiti is popping up all over the place, and I’ll bet you ‘dollars to donuts’ it’s being put up by anti-Trumpers trying to falsely paint Trump as an anti-Semite, which what I posted above proves to be an absurd lie. You might want to also google the term “False Flag Operation”…..

    Since you are very well-informed, surely you know about the Black church that was burned down, after having “vote Trump” graffiti spray painted on it. Then it turned out the person who did that was a Black member of that very church, who did it to make the Trump movement appear to be “racist”. If you Google: “Black Man Burned African-American Church, Painted ‘Vote Trump’ On The Walls” you will find this:
    “A black man has been arrested and charged with burning an African-American church in Greenville, Miss. last month and defacing its outer walls with “Vote Trump” graffiti.

    The Mississippi state police arrested Andrew McClinton, 45, on Wednesday and charged him with first-degree arson of a place of worship, Warren Strain, a spokesman with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety told The Daily Caller….Clarence Green, a bishop at Hopewell, told the AP that McClinton is a member of the church.

    The attack, which was investigated by local and state authorities as well as the FBI, was widely attributed by media outlets to Trump supporters. The Atlantic, to cite one example, published an article entitled “A Black Church Burned in the Name of Trump”.

    The case appears to be yet another hoax targeting Trump supporters. Several Muslim women who have claimed since the election that they were targeted by Trump fans because they wore hijabs have been charged with making false reports.”

    Finally, I’m not sure what your point is about one probably mentally ill person killing someone in Kansas. One actual murder, which is tragic, is nothing compared to the murders of 50 people at the Orlando nightclub, the 14 people killed in San Bernadino, the 3 people killed and 260 injured at the Boston Marathon, the 13 people killed in what Obama ironically called “workplace violence” at Fort Hood. And perhaps you have heard of the over 3,000 people murdered on 9/11. I could go on and on about Islamic mass murder in Nice, Berlin, London…but listing everything would take me at least another half hour of typing.

    You can say that I’m ignorant and uninformed, but simply saying that doesn’t make it true. As I’ve just shown, it’s not true in the least. Which leaves you the one who is now looking “like a fool” by making unfounded claims that I’m some sort of evolution denying rube, which nothing I’ve ever posted gives you any reason to believe. But go on making up BS, and boasting about how “informed and intelligent” you are. I’m sure it makes you feel very special to post that on this {again, sorry Gary) obscure Travel blog for people who will never, ever meet you to read. 😉

  34. @RobertHanson wrote:

    the only ones actually creating violence are the self styled “anti-fash” anarchists, who are blocking streets, breaking windows, burning limos, and beating up people who in some cases may be Trump supporters, but in many cases are merely suspected to be since they are “white”.

    I was refuting your nonsense claim quoted above. The murder was obviously violent and just as obviously not done by someone fitting your weird definition of a lefty.

    So, refuted.

    And since you’re so well-informed it had to be intentional, so you lied.

    No matter how much rambling breitbart-fed non-sequitor boilerplate you use to distract people!

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