NEWS

U.S.-Muslim Teen Stopped From Boarding International Flight Home

21/03/2017 3:23 AM IST

A spring break trip to the Muslim holy city of Mecca has turned into a travel nightmare for a Tennessee family after their 17-year-old daughter was denied entry into the U.S., allegedly because the airline they traveled with did not provide the proper documents to U.S. officials.

Zubaidah Alizoti, who was born in the U.S. and attends school in Knoxville, was scheduled to fly out of Turkey on Sunday with her family, but she was barred from boarding her Atlanta-bound flight, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

In a Facebook post, her mother, Sabrina Sadaf Siddiqi, wrote that her daughter was refused “for no apparent reason.” The experience left her rattled, with fears that her family is being targeted in this “new Great America.”

A revised travel ban recently signed by President Donald Trump specifically targets travelers from six Muslim-majority countries. Turkey and Saudi Arabia, however, are not on the list.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, the airline ― identified by the Sentinel as Turkish Airlines ― failed to provide the agency with the proper documents that would allow Zubaidah’s reentry.

“International carriers are tasked with providing security information to the federal government before a passenger can fly into the United States,” TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz said in an email to The Huffington Post on Monday. “That did not happen in this case.”

A spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, reached by HuffPost, added that they were not involved in the teen’s travel situation. A request for comment from the airline was not immediately returned.

What remains unclear is what will happen next for the family.

Siddiqi posted that they would attempt to board a flight on Wednesday.

“If you’re the praying type, pray for us these next few days that we are ALL able to board and enter ATL without any incidents,” Siddiqi wrote in another Facebook post.

In a later post, she shared that the family attempted to meet with the U.S. Consulate but they were denied assistance because they did not have an appointment. 

“There are no appointments till March 31st and we are attempting to leave again on the 22nd,” she added.

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero was among those who expressed concern and vowed action.

“I contacted the offices of Senators Alexander and Corker and Congressman Duncan, and they all responded promptly and promised to reach out to the Siddiqis,” she said in a statement emailed to HuffPost. “I have heard from Sabrina Siddiqi that she has heard from them, and she appreciates the support. We all hope she and her daughter are able to travel home soon.” 

The family did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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