Outrage as British Muslim family banned from entering US

A British Muslim father, his  brother and their nine children have been banned from flying to the United States for Christmas to visit Disneyland and family in California.

The episode follows soon after Republic frontrunner Donald Trump called for all Muslims to be refused entry to the US.

Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, 41, and his family, who spent more than £10,000 on the airline tickets to Los Angeles, were at the departure gate at Gatwick airport when a UK Border Agency official told them their US temporary visas had been revoked.

People opposed to Republican presidential Donald Trump's proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States protest in Manhattan.Brendan McDermid/Reuters

They were given no reason except that the border officials were acting on instructions from Homeland Security in the US. To add insult to injury they have been told they will not be refunded the cost of the tickets. They had been planning to stay for two weeks, but instead returned home that day, the children in tears.

Pakistan-born Mahmood, who owns a gym and who came to Britain at the age of 12 with his father, said: 'We had been planning the trip for four to five months and my kids had countdowns on their phones. My kids were really looking forward to seeing their cousins, they live in California. We'd planned skydiving and a desert safari and the kids were all keeping up and talking about it through social media. They'd made a lot of plans."

He said being escorted from the airport was one of the most embarrassing moments of his life.

Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, where the family lives, has raised the case with the Prime Minister, David Cameron after failing to get a satisfactory response from the US Embassy. She has also asked whether the UK monitors numbers, ethnic and religious background of people blocked from travelling.

Writing in The Guardian, she says: "As a young girl I dreamed of going to Disneyland. Like many of my friends I hoped to one day visit places I'd only seen on television shows and in films. That's why when I heard from a family of 11 from my Walthamstow constituency whose holiday to LA had had to be abandoned, my first thought was for their kids. How long they had watched their parents save for the trip; how excited they must have felt telling their friends they would see Mickey Mouse, and how upset they must have been at Gatwick airport to watch their dad being taken aside by officials and told that their right to travel was being revoked. Instead of heading to Universal Studios for two weeks of fun, they were told to go back home and unpack."

She says a growing number of UK Muslim citizens say they have been similarly treated. "This raises troubling questions well beyond how to diffuse the heartache of small children unable to meet Elsa from Frozen. Indeed, if the US thinks it has good grounds for stopping people going there, we cannot be contented that the UK does not take any action to follow this up here."

She says condemnation of Donald Trump's call for no Muslim to be allowed into America contrasts with what is going on in practice.

"Just a week ago, parliamentarians were united in agreement that Trump's views were abhorrent. Now we should do more than shrug our shoulders at secretive American security policies that leave our constituents in such limbo. If the embassy won't answer to the family's MP, it should answer to their Prime Minister and he to us about what he is doing to ensure that no British citizen is being discriminated against for their faith on our shores."