Mohammed Fairouz, an American musician who was born in the United Arab Emirates, was detained at the John F. Kennedy International Airport Monday with no apparent reason other than having a “super common” Muslim name as reported by the Washington Post.

Fairouz arrived at the airport around 11:00 p.m. after an eight-hour flight from London. He was then told by immigration officials he had to go through an additional screening process and was escorted to a room. He stayed there with dozens of other people and waited for two hours without being given an exact reason.

Officers would occasionally tell them that nobody could leave without clearance. People inside were not allowed to use their cell phones or other personal effects.

When he was finally allowed to leave, Fairouz still didn’t know the exact reason for his detention, other than his name.

The airport’s policies

In a statement given by a US Customs and Border Protection spokesperson indicated people entering the United States, American citizens or otherwise, must have evidence that they are qualified to get into the country.

However, Fairouz felt that detaining people for no valid reasons is not the proper way to treat them. The composer stated in a column he wrote for the Independent that the behavior he experienced is a behavior that embarrasses the United States in the worst way possible.

South American woman humiliated by officers

Also according to his column, Fairouz witnessed an elderly South American woman, who couldn’t speak English, get harassed and humiliated by airport officials. After the humiliation has ended, the woman was told that if she had any problems, she could file a complaint.

The officers knew the woman doesn’t have the capacity to file a complaint, knowing that she could barely construct a sentence in English, let alone navigate the underhand structures of any US government customer service system.

Similar incidents of airport detention

Muhammad Ali Jr., son of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, was detained at a Florida airport along with his mother in February after coming from Jamaica. According to reports, they were detained by Customs and Border Protection officers for having Arabic-sounding names.

After a month, Ali was been detained again.

This time, however, at the Reagan National Airport.

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