Traveling While Muslim: The Case of the Exploding Chocolate

Published on: August 14, 2018

I got harassed at the airport by Customs and Border Patrol. Good thing I’m a lawyer—in the Trump era, others aren’t so lucky.

 
Islamophobia


After a week of exhausting travel in London, I wanted nothing more than to see my wife and children.

Customs and Border Patrol at Dulles had other plans.
 
On Aug. 6, I landed on UA919 from Heathrow to Dulles wearing my Ahmadiyya Muslim Community logo-embroidered press jacket. I cleared passport control with my Global Entry card, and called an Uber as I headed for the exit.

That’s when Customs and Border Protection, as one of the officers I encountered put it, “randomly selected” me for additional screening. What I experienced next involved harassment, threats of further interrogation, allegations that I was non-compliant and breaking the law, an attempt to confiscate my travel documents and childish stalling tactics — all courtesy of officials hired to protect Americans like me...
 
I share my story of profiling not for sympathy, but for two crucial reasons. First, people have rights and should know their rights. Second, people of color have a habit of not sharing our stories publicly. This isn’t my opinion; it’s fact: Hate crimes and discrimination incidents are severely underreported—making reform more difficult. If we want to ever be safe in this country, people of color and minorities in general must share our stories.