MONTREAL – A Canadian Muslim woman was denied entry to the US after being fingerprinted, photographed and questioned in detail about her religion and her views on US President Donald Trump.
“I felt humiliated, treated as if I was less than nothing. It’s as if I wasn’t Canadian,” Fadwa Alaoui, a Moroccan-born Canadian citizen who is Muslim and wears a hijab, told CBC News in an interview Wednesday, February 8.
Alaoui said she has used her Canadian passport to enter the United States many times without incident to visit her parents and brother, who live there.
Yet, last Sunday, she was denied entry when she was traveling with two of her children and an adult cousin, who all have Canadian passports. She said they planned to spend the day shopping in Burlington, Vt., but after four hours at the border they were turned back.
Morocco is not among the seven predominantly Muslim countries targeted by a US travel ban introduced by Trump that is now being disputed in the courts.
Alaoui said US border agents asked to see her and her cousin’s cellphones, after which she was questioned for 45 minutes.
“He said, ‘Do you practise? Which mosque do you go to? What is the name of the imam? How often do you go to the mosque? What kind of discussions do you hear in the mosque? Does the imam talk to you directly?'” Alaoui said.
Border agents also asked her about Arabic videos on her phone. She said they were videos of daily prayers.
“They said, ‘You’re not allowed to go to the United States because we found videos on your phone that are against us,” Alaoui said.
The accusation was denied by David Long, a spokesman for US Customs and Border Protection, said privacy laws prohibit discussion of individual travelers.
“US Customs and Border Protection’s top priority is the prevention of the entry of terrorists and their weapons into the United States, while facilitating legitimate trade and travel,” Long’s email read.
“CBP does not discriminate on the entry of foreign nationals to the United States based on religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation,” he continued.
Alaoui now wonders about returning to the US to visit her parents in Chicago. She was planning to do that for spring break, but now she’s not sure.
“Usually we drive about eight hours to cross at the Sarnia border. We don’t want that to happen to us again after eight hours of driving,” she said.