Moroccan-born Canadian citizen Fadwa Alaoui was turned away from the U.S. border after extensive questioning about her religion and views on President Donald Trump.
Fadwa, who is Muslim and wears a hijab, stated she entered the U.S. many times previously — without incident — to visit her parents and brother who live in the States.
This past Saturday, she was attempting to travel with two of her children and an older cousin, who all have Canadian passports, to do shopping in Burlington, V.T. However, at the Highgate Springs border crossing, they were stopped by U.S. border agents who, for more than four hours, fingerprinted, photographed and questioned them.
Fadwa said that the agents escorted them to the border control office, where she and her cousin were asked to surrender their cell phones. The agents asked for their respective passwords, examined the phones for approximately an hour and then questioned Fadwa and her cousin separately for about 45 minutes each.
In a video interview with CTV, Fadwa said that the border agents asked, “How long have you been here in Canada?” She told them it had been more than 20 years.
According to CBC, Fadwa stated the border agent questioned her rigorously about her religion: “Do you practice? Which mosque do you go to? What is the name of the Imam? How often do you go to the mosque? What kind of discussions do you hear in the mosque? Does the imam talk to you directly?”
She also said the agent inquired about the deadly shooting that occurred recently inside a Quebec City mosque – more specifically, if she knew any of the victims personally. Fadwa stated she was also asked to talk about her thoughts on President Trump’s policies.
Regarding her cell phone, Fadwa said that the border agents focused on asking her to explain Arabic videos they saw on it. She told them that they were simply videos about daily prayers.
After the questioning, Fadwa stated she waited about another hour before border agents returned and told her she was being denied entry to the U.S. Fadwa said the agents claimed, “You’re not allowed to go to the United States because we found videos on your phone that are against us.”
“I felt humiliated, treated as if I was less than nothing. It’s as if I wasn’t Canadian,” she told CBC News in an interview.
Morocco is not one of the seven predominately Muslim countries targeted by Donald Trump’s executive order travel ban which is now being disputed in the courts.
What happened to Fadwa and her family is a potentially frightening preview of things to come. Two major issues are brought to light through her experience: the prevention of Muslims, regardless of country origin or passport status, from entering the U.S. and the use of personal opinions about the president as reason enough to deny entry into the country.
Trump claims the intent of minimizing entry into the States of people from specific “terror prone” nations (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) is to protect American citizens through border strengthening.
However, it seems that this executive order is potentially being used to more deeply profile and restrict the rights of Muslims, as well as anyone whose political opinions differ from Trump’s.
If his orders are setting such an egregiously discriminatory precedent, it’s imperative that the legality of such actions be investigated thoroughly.