MP prevented from boarding flight 'because his name was Mohammed'

An MP was prevented from boarding a flight to Canada "because his name was Mohammad", the Commons has been told.

Mohammad Yasin, the Labour MP for Bedford, was due to fly to Canada last week with a group of other MPs from the Commons Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee when he was held back for extra questioning.

Officials from Air Canada asked the MP if he was carrying a knife or any other weapon as well as his place of birth.

The incident was raised by the Labour chair of the committee, Clive Betts, who said he would write to the Canadian high commissioner in the UK about the "racist and Islamophobic nature" of what happened.

Mr Betts told the Commons: "When the committee checked in for their flights at Heathrow, all members got through with the exception of the member for Bedford, who was delayed for questioning for a considerable period.

"He was told it was because his name was Mohammad."

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Mr Betts added: "He was also asked whether he was carrying a knife, or other offensive weapons, he was also asked where he was born.

"The questioning was undertaken by officials from Air Canada and we believe the Canadian government, and despite him already having been given a visa to enter Canada.

"After proving he was an MP with the help of my committee clerk, he was eventually allowed through."

Mr Betts said "the same issues" were raised by Canadian immigration at Montreal airport.

"On return at Toronto airport on the way back, he was again challenged and got on his flight with the assistance of my consul general, who was very helpful," he said.

Mr Betts went on: "He has received apologies from the parliamentary secretary to the Canadian minister for immigration and Air Canada, however, given the racist and Islamophobic nature of these challenges, I believe that it is worth writing to the Canadian high commissioner, which I will do.

"I believe it is important to put these concerns on the parliamentary record. It was completely unacceptable for a member of this house to be treated in this way.

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"But because he was an MP he was allowed on his flight. If, however, he had been one of our constituents who had been so challenged, he might have been refused.

Sir Roger Gale, the deputy speaker replied: "I am sure that the whole House will share the dismay at the treatment of the Member for Bedford.

"It is wholly unacceptable under any circumstances.

"But it is particularly concerning, occurring as it did, in the course of official travel on parliamentary business."

Sir Roger said he was sure ministers "will also have noticed his comments".