Border agents ask Muhammad Ali's son: 'Are you Muslim?'

Muhammad Ali Jr., claims airport security held him and questioned him about his name and religion.Muhammad Ali's son, who bears the boxing great's name, was detained by immigration officials at a Florida airport and questioned about his ancestry and religion...

Border agents ask Muhammad Ali's son: 'Are you Muslim?'

Muhammad Ali Jr., claims airport security held him and questioned him about his name and religion.

Muhammad Ali's son, who bears the boxing great's name, was detained by immigration officials at a Florida airport and questioned about his ancestry and religion in what amounted to unconstitutional profiling, a family friend said Saturday.

Returning from a Black History Month event in Jamaica, Muhammad Ali Jr. and his mother, Khalilah Camacho Ali, were pulled aside and separated from each other on Feb. 7 at the immigration checkpoint at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, said Chris Mancini, a family friend and attorney.

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BBC journalist Ali Hamedani, right, hugs a supporter at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. Hamedani said he was held at the airport for three hours and missed his connecting flight to Los Angeles. 

BBC journalist Ali Hamedani, right, hugs a supporter at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. Hamedani said he was held at the airport for three hours and missed his connecting

67 Years old Pakistani Green Card holder Rabia Evsan is getting out after 10 hours of detention by US Custom and Petrol at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, United States on January 28, 2017. According to lawyers more then 200 people detained including babies to elders from muslim countries.

67 Years old Pakistani Green Card holder Rabia Evsan is getting out after 10 hours of detention by US Custom and Petrol at Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, California, United States on January

Mahdi Radgoudarzi, center, of Sacramento, Calif., is met by his daughter Niloofar, left, and wife Susan, right, after Mahdi arrived from Tehran, Iran, at San Francisco International Airport Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, in San Francisco. President Donald Trump's executive order bars citizens of seven predominantly Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. Radgoudarzi was held for a few hours then eventually allowed to enter the country.

Mahdi Radgoudarzi, center, of Sacramento, Calif., is met by his daughter Niloofar, left, and wife Susan, right, after Mahdi arrived from Tehran, Iran, at San Francisco International Airport Saturday, Jan. 28,

Vahideh Rasekhi, an Iranian doctoral student at Stony Brook University, greets friends and family as she is released from detention at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017.

Vahideh Rasekhi, an Iranian doctoral student at Stony Brook University, greets friends and family as she is released from detention at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017.

A woman is embraced by her son-in-law at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in New York. The son-in-law said that the woman had travelled from Iran and had been detained after arriving. President Donald Trump's executive order Friday suspended all immigration and visa processes for nationals from a handful of countries with terrorism concerns, including Iran, for 90 days.

A woman is embraced by her son-in-law at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in New York. The son-in-law said that the woman had travelled from Iran and had been detained after

An Iranian woman, left, embraces her crying friend who emerges three hours after her plane arrived from Iran to Logan Airport in Boston on Jan. 29, 2017. People waited at Logan for international arrivals from countries where immigration was restricted by President Trump's executive order. 

An Iranian woman, left, embraces her crying friend who emerges three hours after her plane arrived from Iran to Logan Airport in Boston on Jan. 29, 2017. People waited at Logan for international arrivals from

Iranian green card holder Shima Behgooy, right, cries on the shoulders of her father-in-law Ahmad Behgooy, a native of Iran who is now a naturalized U.S. citizen, after she was released from being held at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in Dallas, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Protestors at the airport demonstrated against President Trump's executive order banning individuals from certain Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.  

Iranian green card holder Shima Behgooy, right, cries on the shoulders of her father-in-law Ahmad Behgooy, a native of Iran who is now a naturalized U.S. citizen, after she was released from being held at

Mansour Kenereh, second left, walks with family members in the International arrivals lobby at Hartsfield- Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2017, in Atlanta. The family of 3 were among people detained at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office following an executive order from President Donald Trump limiting immigration.

Mansour Kenereh, second left, walks with family members in the International arrivals lobby at Hartsfield- Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Saturday, Jan. 25, 2017, in Atlanta. The family of 3 were among

Mariam Yasin, left, translates for her mother Najah Alshamieh, 55, from Syria, after immigration authorities released Alshamieh at Dallas Fort-Worth airport, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Alshamieh was held by immigration authorities after President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring muslims from certain countries from entering the Unties States. (Brandon Wade/Star-Telegram via AP)

Mariam Yasin, left, translates for her mother Najah Alshamieh, 55, from Syria, after immigration authorities released Alshamieh at Dallas Fort-Worth airport, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Alshamieh was held by

Camacho Ali was released a short time later after showing a photo of herself with her ex-husband, the former heavyweight boxing champion, Mancini said. But Ali Jr. was not carrying a photo of his world-famous father — a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Ali Jr., 44, who confirmed his Muslim faith, was detained about two hours, despite telling officials that he's Ali's son and a native-born U.S. citizen, Mancini said. It was the first time Ali Jr. and his mother have ever been asked if they're Muslim when re-entering the United States, he said.

"From the way they were treated, from what was said to them, they can come up with no other rational explanation except they fell into a profiling program run by customs, which is designed to obtain information from anyone who says they're a Muslim," Mancini said in a phone interview. "It's quite clear that what triggered his detention was his Arabic name and his religion."

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Daniel Hetlage confirmed Saturday evening that Ali Jr. was held for questioning by customs officers, but said "it wasn't because he's a Muslim and it wasn't because of the Arabic-sounding name."

The agency said in a statement that its officers process more than 1.2 million international travelers daily with "vigilance and in accordance with the law." It said it does not discriminate based on religion, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

"We treat all travelers with respect and sensitivity," the agency said. "Integrity is our cornerstone. We are guided by the highest ethical and moral principles."

During his detention, Ali Jr. was asked repeatedly about his lineage and his name, "as if that was a pre-programmed question that was part of a profile," Mancini said.

Ali Jr. and his mother have been frequent global travelers. The family connects their treatment to President Donald Trump's efforts to restrict immigration after calling during his campaign for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

"This has never happened to them before," Mancini said. "They're asked specifically about their Arabic names. Where they got their names from and whether they're Muslims. It doesn't take much to connect those dots to what Trump is doing."

Camacho Ali and Ali Jr. live in Florida. They have not traveled abroad since, and are considering filing a federal lawsuit, he said.

Asked why the matter was just now coming to light, Mancini said: "Khalilah had prior commitments as did I and when she finally got in to see me for a legal opinion of what they did, I brought it to the media immediately."

Ali, the three-time heavyweight champion and humanitarian, died last June at age 74 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. People lined the streets of Louisville, Kentucky, to say goodbye to the city's most celebrated son before a star-studded memorial service watched worldwide.

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