South Shore Muslim woman denied at U.S. border for day trip to Burlington
The National Council of Canadian Muslims says it's starting to keep track of Muslims being denied entry in the United States, despite having a Canadian passport.
The move comes follow yet another incident involving racial profiling, this time involving a South Shore woman who was denied entry after being held up at the border for four hours as U.S. border guards questioned her about her religion.
Fadwa Alaoui, who was born in Morocco, holds Canadian citizenship, and considers herself first and foremost a Canadian, planned a day trip to Burlington, Vermont last Saturday with two of her children and a cousin.
The day trip quickly turned sour.
She says it reminded her how being Arabic and a Muslim can trigger a slew of unexpected questions from U.S. border guards.
“He told us, ‘How long have you been here in Canada?’ I tell him it's been more than 20 years,” she said.
Alaoui and her cousin were then grilled for four hours. The border guards wanted to know which mosque she attended, who was her imam, who else went to the mosque and what she thought of the Quebec City terror attack.
She was also asked her opinion on Donald Trump.
“I said it's not in my interest and he has the right to do what he wants in his country,” she said.
Alaoui, who says she doesn't follow politics and barely goes to her mosque more than once a month, found the questions puzzling.
The U.S. agents also went through everyone's phones, looking at photos and asking about a prayer video in Arabic she carries with her.
Ultimately, she was told she couldn't enter the country.
“She tells me she finds videos and concerns against us,” said Alaoui. “I said, ‘What?!’”
When asked about Alaoui’s case, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency said they wouldn't comment on specific cases, but said in a release:
"CBP does not discriminate on the entry of foreign nationals to the United States based on religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation."
The National Council of Canadian Muslims said incidents like this have become more numerous since President Donald Trump took office and they encourage Canadians to file complaints.
“We have been monitoring the way Muslims have been experiencing travel, whether it's to the U.S. or other places and we keep records of the kind of treatment people have been experiencing,” said NCCM spokesperson Amira Elghawaby.
That's not reassuring for Alaoui, however. Her family members, including her parents, are American citizens who live in Chicago, and she remains concerned that her future plans to enter the U.S. could be derailed.