A British Member of Parliament has described his “humiliating” experience of being questioned at a London airport because his name is Mohammad.
Mohammad Yasin was stopped at Heathrow and asked if he was carrying a knife or any other weapon, the House of Commons was told.
The Labour politician was on a trip to Canada last week with other MPs from the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee.
Committee chair and fellow Labour MP Clive Betts revealed that Mr Yasin was questioned by officials from Air Canada and the Canadian government, despite having a visa for Canada.
“He was told that this was because his name is Mohammad,” said Mr Betts.
Mr Betts said Mr Yasin proved he was an MP, with the help of the Committee clerk, but then experienced similar treatment at immigration at Montreal airport.
And when he was leaving Canada, Mr Yasin “was again challenged” but was able to get on his flight with the help of a senior UK diplomat, said Mr Betts, who described the actions of the Canadians as “racist and Islamophobic”.
Mr Yasin has now revealed the impact of what happened to him.
“It was stressful and humiliating to be singled out in such an aggressive way by immigration control, especially when travelling in a group as a representative of the British Parliament on long-arranged Committee business,” he told The National.
“While I don’t expect special treatment as a Member of Parliament, it does concern me that had I not been an MP, how much worse the experience might have been.
“I am grateful for the cross-party support I have received from Parliament, the chair of the Levelling Up Committee and the Commons Speaker and am happy to accept the invitation from the Canadian High Commission to discuss my experience further.”
Mr Betts told the Commons Mr Yasin had received an apology from an aide to the Canadian Minister for Immigration and from Air Canada.
The MP said he would be writing to the Canadian High Commissioner in the UK, the country’s ambassador, and the UK’s High Commissioner in Canada has raised the matter with the government there.
Mr Betts said: “It is important to put these concerns on the parliamentary record.”
“It was completely unacceptable for a Member of this House to be treated in this way,” said Mr Betts, and suggested if “constituents had been so challenged, they might have been refused”.
The Deputy Speaker of the Commons, Sir Roger Gale, said he was “sure that the whole House shares his dismay at the treatment”, which he said was “wholly unacceptable under any circumstances”.