A retired police chief was detained and questioned by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport upon his return from a trip abroad earlier this month because his first name is Hassan.
Hassan Aden, 52, is a retired Greenville, N.C., police chief and a former deputy chief with the Alexandria police in Virginia, and the Washington Post reports that on March 13, Aden was detained for 90 minutes by CBP agents at JFK when he returned from a trip to Paris.
Aden is the Italian-born son of an Italian mother and a Somali father, and he has lived in the U.S. for 42 years, is a naturalized citizen and holds a U.S. passport as well as TSA Pre-Check, according to the Post. He’d traveled out of the country dozens of times without incident until earlier this month.
Aden wrote a Facebook post detailing the incident in which he said:
This experience has left me feeling vulnerable and unsure of the future of a country that was once great and that I proudly called my own. This experience makes me question if this is indeed home. My freedoms were restricted, and I cannot be sure it won’t happen again, and that it won’t happen to my family, my children, the next time we travel abroad. This country now feels cold, unwelcoming, and in the beginning stages of a country that is isolating itself from the rest of the world—and its own people—in an unprecedented fashion. High levels of hate and injustice have been felt in vulnerable communities for decades—it is now hitting the rest of America.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection wrote an email to the Post in which she denied that officers were engaging in profiling and said that the agency bars race and ethnicity from being considered in screening “in all but the most exceptional cases.”
We all know that the toxic combination of Trump’s repeated failed attempts at a travel ban and rampant Islamophobia is what is leading to these stops at our airports.
In his Facebook post, Aden wrote that he was told by one agent that his name “was used as an alias by someone on a watch list,” so we know for sure they are using names to single people out.
As the Post notes, and as previously reported on The Root, the same thing happened to Muhammad Ali Jr. when he returned from a trip to Jamaica, and Ali was specifically asked about his religion. in Ali’s case, there was also no mention of watch list, so it is obvious that they went by his name.
And they should have felt stupid, because how do you detain someone with the name of the greatest boxer of all time and not put two and two together?
Let’s not forget the information that DHS itself put out showing that most terrorists are not radicalized until years after entering the United States.
But continue to demonize Muslim Americans and people with Muslim-sounding names, because that’s all you know how to do.
Read more at the Washington Post.