Toronto, Sept. 13 (Reuters): A respected and moderate Canadian Muslim cleric was detained and interrogated in Florida by US immigration officials for 16 hours without any charges being filed, the Toronto Star newspaper reported today.
Ahamad Kutty, who preaches on the dangers of Islamic fanaticism, was ordered off an Orlando-bound flight from Toronto and interrogated in an airport holding cell and a local jail as the US marked the second anniversary of the September 11 attacks on Thursday, the newspaper said.
Kutty, an imam and scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, has preached tolerance and peace throughout North America for more than two decades, the Star said.
He was detained with fellow Toronto cleric Abdool Hamid.
Kutty told the Star he was pulled off the plane in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at 9.30 am on Thursday and grilled by officials until 1.30 am yesterday
Kutty and Hamid travelled to Florida to attend seminars and lecture on, among other things, the dangers of Islamic fanaticism, said the Star.
Hamid, who returned with Kutty to Toronto last night, said a FBI interrogator was apologetic and said: “You picked a bad day to fly,” referring to the anniversary of the attacks.
“We have gone through a traumatic experience. Really it dehumanised us,” Kutty told the Star. He told the Star he would not go back to the US and would caution other Canadian Muslims against doing so.
Kutty said his interrogators took interest in his affiliation with the Islamic Institute of Toronto, which they said sounded similar to the Islamic Institution of North America, which Kutty assumed was deemed suspicious by US authorities. The two clerics’ families were in the dark about their whereabouts until 4.30 am yesterday, when Kutty and Hamid were permitted to telephone home from a Fort Lauderdale jail. The Star said US authorities said the men were denied entry to the US because they were thought to be a risk to national security.
A radical British Muslim group which had planned to call four meetings across Britain to praise the “magnificent 19” September 11 hijackers, was forced to cancel the events.