Saturday June 17, 2017
A Muslim leader visiting Kenya was barred from boarding his flight home to the United States.
Yussuf Awadir Abdi, an imam of Madina Masjid Mosque in Salt Lake City, journeyed to Kenya to pick up his wife and five children but was pulled aside by officials at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport when he attempted to board his home-bound flight, the Salt Lake City Tribune reported.
Abdi’s wife and children were allowed on the plane — three of his kids had passports while his wife and the other two children had visas.
Despite being a U.S. citizen since 2010, Abdi was left stranded in Kenya Wednesday night. His temporary visa there is set to expire shortly, he said.
Attorney Jim McConkie, a co-founder of the Refugee Justice League of Utah, said Abdi and his family were “super nervous” about traveling for this very reason.Muslim and community leader Noor Ul-Hasan believes Abdi was barred from his flight because of his religious standing. She said she warned Abdi against taking the trip for fear of similar persecution.
“[Qatar Airlines] told him he couldn’t board because the U.S. wouldn’t accept him,” McConkie told the Tribune.
Since taking up residence in the White House, President Trump has sought to implement a travel ban — a series of executive orders temporarily limiting travel to the United States from six Muslim-majority countries. The would-be legislation however, has been blocked by courts repeatedly, and Kenya is not among the nations targeted by the ban.
It appears the U.S. was not a part of the decision to block Abdi, though Trump’s travel ban caused similar travel issues earlier this year.
The Refugee Justice League — founded several months ago to protect the rights of refugees in America — is seeking assistance from American Senators, the U.S. Embassy and the Department of Homeland Security to bring Abdi home, according to the newspaper.
Abdi in 2005 left a Kenyan refugee camp alongside his sister and brother. His father was killed in the civil war there, and he has been working to bring his mother to the United States ever since. Abdi has lived in Utah for six years.
“This is what I was afraid of," Ul-Hassan told the Tribune. “There’s absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t be allowed to re-enter.”