Courtesy Elizabeth Stewart and agencies, Guardian Unlimited
Monday October 29, 2007–Britainâ€™s first Muslim minister has described his disappointment at being detained – for a second time – at a US airport, where his hand luggage was analysed for traces of explosive materials.
International development minister Shahid Malik was returning to the UK yesterday morning after attending a series of meetings on tackling terrorism when was stopped and searched at Dulles Airport in Washington DC.
The MP for Dewsbury was detained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – the same department whose representatives he had been meeting on his visit to the country.
Mr Malik said yesterday: â€œAfter a few minutes a couple of other people were also taken to one side. We were all Muslims – the other two were black Muslims, both with Muslim names.â€
Mr Malik said he was particularly annoyed, as a similar incident happened to him last year, when he was detained for an hour at JFK airport in New York by the DHS.
This was despite the fact he had been a keynote speaker at an event organised by the department, alongside the FBI and Muslim organisations in New York.
Following the episode last year, Mr Malik received numerous apologies and assurances from the US authorities.
But after his detention yesterday, which lasted about 40 minutes, he said: â€œI am deeply disappointed.
â€œThe abusive attitude I endured last November I forgot about and I forgave but I really do believe that British ministers and parliamentarians should be afforded the same respect and dignity at USA airports that we would bestow upon our colleagues in the Senate and Congress.
â€œObviously, there was no malice involved but it has to be said that the US system does not inspire confidence.â€