A British Muslim family was prevented from boarding a flight to Los Angeles at London’s Gatwick Airport, the Guardian reported on Wednesday. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which banned the family from the flight on Dec. 15, offered no explanation for the refusal.
The story is making the rounds in the British press as evidence of overreaction by U.S. officials to perceived terrorist threats. Several British politicians have spoken out about the case, arguing that British Muslims are increasingly being prevented from traveling to the United States without any explanations for such bans.
Neither the U.S. Embassy in London nor the Department of Homeland Security have responded to various media requests for an explanation.
The incident comes just weeks after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the United States. Tensions have been high since the Paris and San Bernardino attacks and several reports indicate that backlash against Muslims in the U.S. is on the rise.
The family of 11, which included two adults and nine children, was purportedly authorized to travel to the United States before their flight. They were planning to visit Disneyland, according to British media reports.
One family member, Mohammad Tariq Mahmood, said that British border control agents approached his group just minutes before they were to get on the plane. One agent told Mahmood, who was born in Pakistan, that he had just received a call from American officials in the United States saying Mahmood and his family were not allowed in the country.
"He wouldn't tell me anything more," Mahmood told Metro UK. "I felt humiliated and my kids were tearful, they were so upset. I'd never experienced anything like that."
The family's story has reached all the way to British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose aides said that Cameron will examine the case. British Labor MP Stella Creasy is another British politician sounding concerns about the incident. She wrote an op-ed for the Guardian decrying the move, saying that she has heard from other Muslim families being similarly denied.
“There has been no further contact from either the UK or American security services to follow up any potential threat that they are perceived to represent,” wrote Creasy. “Despite making enquiries, I’ve hit a brick wall too – except to get confirmation that the £9,000 they spent on flights will not be refunded ... Faced with no holiday, no explanation and no compensation, it is little wonder that festive cheer is in short supply and anger is growing.”