At Zaventem Khalid Benhaddou was informed that the US security services would not grant permission for him to travel.
The imam, a Muslim community leader, is the co-ordinator of an educational network of Islamic experts and co-founder of the CIRRA centre of expertise.
“I had booked a trip to Mexico, but when by passport was checked at the check-in I was informed that the US “secret agency” refused to let me take off because we would be flying over the US.”
“It’s particularly frustrating, not only because I’ve lost money – it’s not the fault of the airline – but because I campaign against extremism. When it’s precisely the people who do that who are stopped and humiliated, then it’s a bad signal. People who hear about this may become more suspicious of society’s institutions.”
The imam intends to take the matter up with the US embassy. The US ambassador visited CIRRA, Benhaddou’s centre of expertise, only a couple of weeks ago.
“This is about more than just me personally. I hear a lot of people are experiencing this.”
Khalid Benhaddou also hopes the Belgian government will raise the matter with the US authorities.