CAIRO – A British Muslim who was on his way to Morocco for a honeymoon with his pregnant wife has been removed from an airplane which was about to take-off from Manchester Airport, investigated for five hours and released without a charge.
“We were really looking forward to the holiday because it was a late honeymoon for us,” Ahmed Ali, a British Muslim who runs a charity in Derby, told Derby Telegraph on Tuesday, February 9.
The 39-year-old dilemma started when he was told by Thomson Airways staff that he had to get off the plane on Saturday morning.
“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.”
His pregnant wife also got off the flight as he was then taken by officers from Greater Manchester Police and questioned for five hours under section seven of the terrorism act.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Facing the same situation over and over, Ali said he will be making official complaints to the airline and the police.
“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.”
The situation; however, is having its negative impact on Ali’s wife who was shocked by the move.
“She has had three panic attacks because of the situation. I am used to it but this was her first flight,” he said.
“What happened was wrong. It has been very traumatic and I feel I have been victimized.”
Running a charity that offers help to the needy and homeless in Derby, Ali condemned discrimination against the Muslim community over the actions of a few bad apples.
“I absolutely love Derby – it is a great city. I feel like I have been born and bred here. The people are fantastic and so friendly,” he said.
“I don’t care where people are from or what their background is, we should all try and get along and live together. There should be no discrimination in life.”