Muslim man ordered off plane

26th Feb 2016

Elham Asaad Buaras

A Muslim man from Derby who was removed from a Morocco bound flight minutes before take-off, says he was targeted because he was bearded Muslim.

Ahmed Ali, 39, was about to fly from Manchester Airport with his pregnant wife for a belated honeymoon when he was told by Thomson Airways flight attendant that he had to disembark the plane on Saturday February 6 morning.

The charity worker, who lives in Kirk Langley, was then taken by officers from Greater Manchester Police and questioned under Section 7 of the Terrorism Act.

Ali said he had been questioned 20 times during the last two years by police before he had boarded flights. This was the first time he had been removed from a plane.

He said he always cooperates with security checks due to the heightened terrorism threat but this time was left feeling “angry and distressed” because he had been taken off the flight.

Ali said: “I was on the plane and watching a video and my wife was chatting to the people next to her. I was then tapped on the shoulder by a member of staff who said you need to leave the plane. I asked three times – ‘why?’. She said the police are outside waiting for you.
‘I asked why have you taken me off the flight. They said follow us and said they would interview me under section seven of the terrorism act’.”

“I told them I was stopped at Heathrow three weeks ago with my mum. It has happened 20 times in the last two years.

“I said after the situation at Heathrow that if it happened again then I would take a stand. Every single time they say sorry for keeping you. Each time I have accepted that and thought they are just doing their job. I want to be safe on flights so I’m glad they check.

“But this time I just could not accept it. Why did they let me get on the plane? I told the police I would not answer their questions.”

Ali, who campaigns against extremism, said officers told him he would need to cooperate but he refused and said he begged them to arrest him.

He said: “I wanted them to arrest me so I could take this further. I wanted it to go to court so I could prove that all of this was wrong. I was very angry and upset. I was very worried for my wife as well because she is pregnant. They questioned me for five hours before they let me go and then they said sorry.

“I’m so upset about it. What they did was wrong and I think it is purely because I am Muslim and have a beard.

“I could not believe what had happened. To take us off the plane was very embarrassing and humiliating. I would love to tell the people on the plane what has happened. One woman sat near us told staff it was not fair that they were taking us away. I want those passengers to know that I am innocent and I have done nothing wrong.”

Ali said he will be making official complaints to the airline and the police about the incident which he says the incident has left his wife having panic attacks.

A spokesman for Thomson Airways said: “At the request of the authorities, a customer was asked to leave the aircraft due to depart from Manchester to Marrakech at 8.45am on Friday, February 5. As this is a matter for the authorities, we are unable to comment further.”

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police confirmed to The Muslim News that: “The man was questioned under the Section 7 Counter Terrorism Act and was subsequently released.”

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