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“Are You Muslim?”: Muhammad Ali’s Son & Former Wife on their Detention & Interrogation at FL Airport


JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Are you a Muslim? Where did you get your name from? Those were the questions posed by immigration
officials to the son of the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali earlier this month when he flew
in to Florida from Jamaica after attending a Black History Month event. When Muhammad Ibn Ali said he was a Muslim,
authorities reportedly held him and questioned him for over two hours. Ali was traveling with his mother, Khalilah
Camacho-Ali, the boxing great’s second wife and mother of his four oldest children. She was also detained. AMY GOODMAN: The incident occurred on February
7th, days after Trump signed the executive order banning people from seven majority-Muslim
countries. For more, we’re joined here in New York
by Muhammad Ibn Ali and his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, and their attorney, Chris Mancini. We welcome you all to Democracy Now! KHALILAH CAMACHO-ALI: Thank you. MUHAMMAD IBN ALI: Thank you. AMY GOODMAN: You know, I just went to Montego
Bay also last week. KHALILAH CAMACHO-ALI: Really? AMY GOODMAN: I flew in, back to the United
States, and no one asked me about my religion. Muhammad Ali Jr., or Muhammad Ibn Ali, can
you tell us what happened to you when you flew in from Montego Bay on February 7th? MUHAMMAD IBN ALI: Yeah. We was headed to baggage claim, and immigration
pulled me aside and asked me a series of questions. The first question they asked me was: What’s
my name? The second question was: Where did I get my
name from? And the third question was: What religion
are you? And so, I answered, “My name is Muhammad Ibn
Ali.” And I said, “I got my name from my mother
and father. They raised me. They gave me the name Muhammad Ali from birth.” And I said, “I’m Muslim.” Obviously, I think they didn’t believe me,
so they took me into another room, the room in the back, and asked me the same series
of questions. And so, it really struck me as a surprise,
shock and awe, because I’m an American citizen, so I don’t see why he even stopped me in
the first place. But they said they— AMY GOODMAN: What did he keep asking you there? MUHAMMAD IBN ALI: Hmm? AMY GOODMAN: What did he keep asking you in
the second room? MUHAMMAD IBN ALI: Well, they asked me the
same questions as he pulled me aside: What’s my name, where did I get my name from, and
what was my religion? JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Khalilah Camacho-Ali,
what—you were both separated, right? You come in together. What happened to you? KHALILAH CAMACHO-ALI: We all came in together. We was in wheelchairs, because I can’t stand
on my legs, and he, either. So, it was like, I said, “We’re together. That’s my son over there. Keep him here with us, because we’re in
a group.” And they just ignored it and rolled him out. And I says, “Where is he going? Where’s—you’re taking my son.” He says, “He’ll meet you on the other side.” I didn’t get—I didn’t understand what
was that about. And he said—and then, so they told me to
go around and go in another room. And I was going, “Why are they separating
us?” That’s what sent me the red flag. Obviously, something was in place. Whether they had a ban going or not, something
was already in place for this action. So, they asked me the same thing. “Your name?” AMY GOODMAN: What did they ask you? KHALILAH CAMACHO-ALI: He says, “Well, we know
you’re Muhammad Ali’s wife or ex-wife. OK, well, where do you live? And what is your religion?” And I says, “My religion? Are you kidding me?” I said, “That’s a personal question.” I said, “Is my papers in order?” They said, “What is your religion?” I said, “OK, I’ll comply.” And I said, “I’m a Muslim.” I totally was freaking out. I go, “What’s going on?” I didn’t understand. I says, “Is my papers in order?” “We just want to ask you a few questions. That’s all.” You know, I mean, they were very kind, but
they never said why they asked me the question. AMY GOODMAN: Now, apparently, since then,
they have said that they weren’t stopping you because of your religion, Muhammad. Do you believe that? MUHAMMAD IBN ALI: No, because if he didn’t
stop me because of my religion, why would you ask me what is my religion? AMY GOODMAN: And they didn’t explain why
they were. MUHAMMAD IBN ALI: That’s just contradictory. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Were you in that room with
other people, as well, or were you just being questioned by yourself? MUHAMMAD IBN ALI: There was other people in
the room that was being questioned, but I was the only one actually Muslim and black
in the room, so… AMY GOODMAN: Has this ever happened to you? MUHAMMAD IBN ALI: This is the first time. AMY GOODMAN: Has this happened— MUHAMMAD IBN ALI: And I’ve been to England,
Manchester, England, a year ago, and nobody approached me or asked me any question like
that. AMY GOODMAN: And Khalilah Camacho-Ali? KHALILAH CAMACHO-ALI: Well, I had just came
back from Paris, France, two weeks earlier. But I was alone. And they didn’t bother me at all. But when I had my son with me, it totally
changed. JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Chris Mancini, your reaction
when you were contacted and heard about this? And have you had any exchange with the immigration
officials since then? CHRIS MANCINI: We’re thinking about trying
to waive her privacy rights and demanding, A, an explanation from the customs service
and, B, an apology. But as I’m sitting here and listening to
Khalilah, I’ve got to laugh, because Khalilah—the difference between what happened to Khalilah
and Muhammad is partly a difference between their personalities, which should not be a
factor whatsoever in the way customs treats you. But Khalilah is not the type of person to
suffer fools gladly. When these guys basically—she recognized
immediately that they were questioning her about stuff that she is constitutionally protected
from having to answer. Muhammad gets dragged back there alone, and
they’re separated. And it was quite obvious to both of them that
this was deliberate. Some people have asked us, “Well, could this
have been a rogue agent who just decided?” No, this was two separate agents—actually,
two separate groups of agents. This was—as far as I can tell, having been
a United States prosecutor for almost 10 years, this is the type of thing that customs, Border
Patrol does when they want to develop a profile. And we’ve been getting calls. We’ve been getting emails from all over
the country. And the two things that people are saying—the
first one is heartbreaking: Do you think I should deny my religion so that I can get
into the country without being hassled? That’s heartbreaking. And the other calls we’re getting is: “You
know, they—I’m a Muslim, and they asked me the same thing. And then they had a list of questions: Where
do you pray? What imam do you practice with? What do you read? What religion? Do you pray five times a day? Are you a member of Jarid-something-or-other?” I can’t remember the exact name. KHALILAH CAMACHO-ALI: Some sect, yeah, sect. CHRIS MANCINI: Some—a sect, you know? And the list goes on and on and on. So, I don’t care what customs says. I couldn’t—nobody believes for one second
that these two people, especially the Alis, could be separated like this, questioned like
this, and then it’s just an accident. This is not possible. AMY GOODMAN: So we’re here with the Alis,
Muhammad Ali’s father, your father, was born Cassius Clay. Muhammad Ali would later change his name after
joining the Nation of Islam. Many news outlets initially refused to use
his new name. The debate over his name even extended into
the ring. During a famous 1966 interview with Howard
Cosell, Muhammad Ali accused challenger Ernie Terrell of being an Uncle Tom for refusing
to call him Muhammad Ali. HOWARD COSELL: You continue to be unafraid
of this man. ERNIE TERRELL: Yeah. I’d like to say something right here. You know, Cassius Clay is— MUHAMMAD ALI: Why do you want to say “Cassius
Clay,” when Howard Cosell and everybody is calling me Muhammad Ali? Now, why you gotta be the one, of all people,
who’s colored, to keep saying “Cassius Clay”? ERNIE TERRELL: Howard Cosell is not the one
who’s going to fight you. I am. MUHAMMAD ALI: You’re making it really hard
on yourself now. ERNIE TERRELL: Well— MUHAMMAD ALI: Why don’t you keep the thing
in the sport angle? Why don’t you call me my name, man? ERNIE TERRELL: Well, what’s your name? You told me your name was Cassius Clay a few
years ago. MUHAMMAD ALI: I’ve never told you my name
was Cassius Clay. My name is Muhammad Ali. … You’re just acting just like an old
Uncle Tom. AMY GOODMAN: During that fight, Muhammad Ali
repeatedly tormented Ernie Terrell by screaming, “What’s my name? What’s my name?” I’m wondering, Muhammad Ibn Ali, which means
“Muhammad, son of Ali,” Muhammad, what do you think your father would say at the airport
in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, if he were stopped, as you were? MUHAMMAD IBN ALI: “I’m a Muslim. That’s my religion. My name is no longer Cassius Clay. [inaudible] another thing against my religious
belief.” JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And do you know at what point
they understood that you were the son of an American icon, of someone who’s revered
throughout the world? AMY GOODMAN: Did you tell them? KHALILAH CAMACHO-ALI: Yeah. MUHAMMAD IBN ALI: Yes, I actually told them
my father is Muhammad Ali, but it didn’t speed up the process. I think it made things a lot worse. KHALILAH CAMACHO-ALI: [inaudible] You know,
I had pictures of me and Muhammad at the airport, because there were travelers asking for autographs. And I said, “See, this is me.” And it kind of cooled off, but still they
detained me anyway. And it just—it’s just— AMY GOODMAN: Are you planning to sue? MUHAMMAD IBN ALI: We plan to take some type
of action. I don’t know if we’re going to sue yet
or not. But it’s still in the air. KHALILAH CAMACHO-ALI: But it has to stop now. [inaudible] CHRIS MANCINI: Can I, actually, want to comment
on that? AMY GOODMAN: Yes, Chris. CHRIS MANCINI: First of all, don’t you miss
Muhammad Ali? Don’t you? KHALILAH CAMACHO-ALI: I miss him. CHRIS MANCINI: But the Alis have become the
focus. We’re getting calls, as I said, from all
forms of Muslim organizations, all forms of support groups. And I believe, although they didn’t ask
for this fight, they took on the wrong people. And I think they’re going to become the
focus and a rallying point for this struggle. Now, as far as a lawsuit, we’re working
on—towards that. Obviously, we’re trying to get everybody
who was similarly profiled to contact us or to contact an organization that we can work
with. And if anything, Muhammad fought for respect. KHALILAH CAMACHO-ALI: That’s right. CHRIS MANCINI: And so is his wife and his
son. KHALILAH CAMACHO-ALI: We have to carry on
the legacy. We have to help others, because other people
who are immigrants that have a problem, they don’t have a voice. And we have to stand there and be a voice
for them. AMY GOODMAN: Well— MUHAMMAD IBN ALI: And we have to think about
the Muslims that are citizens in the United States. They’re going to make their Hajj and be
like—we have to do every once in our lifetime. You know, it’s a practice that we do. And they’re going to make their Hajj. And should they be worried about getting back
into the country to their families? KHALILAH CAMACHO-ALI: Exactly. AMY GOODMAN: Well, it cannot be denied: The
Alis are fighters. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Thanks so much for joining us.

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100 thoughts on ““Are You Muslim?”: Muhammad Ali’s Son & Former Wife on their Detention & Interrogation at FL Airport

  1. Ali is still Cassius Clay and Michael Tyson is Michael Tyson,once you are a Christian you are forever a Christian to me.

  2. Religious and speech freedom should be totally wiped out of the American constitution. Let customs , immigration and law enforcement do their jobs please. That white Attorney is only about the money he's going to get, when attorneys, lawyers get hold of people who have some money, everybody in this world is about their own benefits.

  3. The fight is on, and the name "Ali" has been a name of fighters who are just, and who haven't been giving up since the 600s of the AD.

    All the best!!!

  4. MUHAMMAD ALI WENT THRU THE SAME THING IN HIS DAY AND HIS FAMILY BEFORE HIM…THIS DONT STOP TIL THE HAMASHIACH COMES BACK AND DEAL WITH THEIR DESCENDANTS.

  5. Muhammad ali freed CIA agents who were caught in Iraq by Saddam revolutionary guards. He went to Saddam's Palace and spoke to him for 4 hours and out of respect he released this prisoners who were handed death sentence.

    Ali came to Pakistan and he was paraded around the country like the greatest warrior and stayed at the presidential palace.

    Why is it that a country that talks about rights and against terrorism is actually the worlds biggest sponsor of hate and murder

    Americans are too lazy to do anything about it. You think you get to chose who your president going to be next? LOL

  6. So what I've been stopped many times and asked for my name and religion and I'm a white atheist. what is the fucking point of this video. ooh let me guess Black lives matter.

  7. They messed with the Alis simply because they, the former, knew that they had the constitutional power to be bigoted, biased, prejudicial, "religiophobic" and, perhaps, racist.

    Not color – – – stop saying that; nothing is "wrong" with the color black, which is not a "race" or ethnicity.

    It's the same for, let's say, the color white, or cream, beige, or pink, or pale, or yellow, or red, or brown etc.; nothing is "wrong" with the color, per se.

    Don't be continuously misled into blaming the victim – thus:
    "Because he is 'black', which is self-defeating.

    Maybe, it's because the victimizer is not "black" – mentally, or by way of pigmentation.

  8. Islamic indoctrination spawns almost all of the terrorism in the world. We have to be vigilant.

    Quran (3:151) – "Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers"

  9. Im muslim from kosovo albania we r growing up every day albania is 90 % muslims kosovo is 97 % muslim macedonia is 70 % salaam alaikum to brother and sister ali amerika and other kafirs are going down

  10. iam islam, and i never hating other religions or make any racism. but why other religions always hate islam? you'll hate islam bcouse propaganda from jews, jews is no.1 who r hating islam bcouse they all know islam is strong, truly, and peace…

  11. Great vocal impersonation. A video I watched just prev to this stated the relationship between father & son was nil for the majority of Jr's life. I've only very recently begun to take an interest in the life, not JUST the boxing career of Ali, so I've a LOT to learn. You hear Jr's impression of senior, and it IMMEDIATELY sets up the retort in many heads, I'm sure, of "should've worked on impersonating seniors physical attributes instead" something like that, anyway. BUT, I don't know enough of Jr's life to say that, don't know if he ever attempted to box or not.

  12. I don't understand why Muslims still living in that collapsing country? I left it after 20 years and I'll NEVER pay taxes there EVER again. Americans should watch a video of Ken O'Keefe – The Greater Israel Project https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2VuMjoNDt4

  13. You are innocent until proven Muslim the white woman she knows why they're not asking her white people are the head of the snake

  14. Muhammad Ali the greatest fighter of all times.. I am big fan of Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson…Muhammad Ali was an exemplary defender while Mike was hard hitter.

  15. Immigration??? Racism reached this point? He is american citizen and nobody can prevent him from entering his country. Why the hell do they have to talk to him at all? Rest in peace democracy, rest in peace law and order. Every asshole of cop or immigration official can make his own law.

  16. This son doesn't resemble Mohammad at all… Its funny that the adopted son looked more like the dad.

  17. Im a muslim and i can understand if i got detained and questioned i just hope someday the world can stop being ignorant

  18. I thought "The Nazis" are extint. What this new shit going on. What are they gonna name themselves now ?…. "THE TRUMPERS"

  19. Iโ€™m a Muhammad Ali Mark. Huge fan. Have experienced actual racism. This is an absurd story. There IS no story. The mom is a compulsive liar. They probably wanted to know about his dad.

  20. fuck shitlam…..they are raping servant killing people in another countries,raping destroying businesses setting terror ,their prophet is sex addict and worse….yet they are awed by questioning…grow up piss face read ur history ….ur grand father was hero…his master stood for civil right movements ur father muhammad f ed himself by converting…

  21. Don't check the religion, just check the nationality of person. All are created by God, just point out particular religion is totally wrong.

  22. It's a dumb decision to call the airport after mohammed ali, instead of Cassius Clay. Wasn't mohammed the 7th century killer of thousands, especially Jews, which the koran still calls for?
    Get rid of that despicable name, please.

  23. Still nothing changed after the struggle of Martin Luther King, Malcom X, Rosa Parks, Muhammed Ali and many, many more….please note some people will never understand, we are all humans and respect each other.

  24. Allah will punish them in hell. Muhammad Ali used to be my dad's good freind and what just happened makes me want to puke

  25. Asslam alykum To all my muslim brother and sister if you are travelling to USA be prepared for racist /biased questions and not even think about denouncing your religion belief's our beloved prophet muhammad pbuh went through a lot worse and the least we can do is not denounce our religion for these low life some of the American (not all of them but surely some ).
    It's your choice and right of what religion you choose to follow.
    Ameen sumameen
    Jazak allaha khair

  26. my opinion mohamad ali him self and his family doesn't need a password to traveller's the world its shame on united states of amirica

  27. And after that USA claims to be a free country….where you can't dress in a civilized manner as a Muslim, cant have a Muslim name as per your will….However, if you want to be naked in public, drink alcohol do any type of immoral act, then of course you are free….because this is what the American public has been brain washed to believe in….

  28. in islam there is no difference between black and white ..All are equal …All muslim are just like the five finger of one hand…we love muhammad ali …we love his son and her mother ….

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