OKLAHOMA - American Muslims have launched an online petition to bring an Air Force veteran back into the United States, appealing to the US government to take his name off the no-fly list.
"My brother has no criminal record and there is no reason for him to be barred from flying home," A.L. Anderson, the sister of Saadiq Long said in a statement cited by Tusla World website on Sunday, November 18.Anderson launched the petition to pressure the US government to allow her brother back into her home.
The petition has gathered more than 6,000 signatures so far.
The Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has joined efforts to launch the petition to bring the Muslim veteran back to his home country, executive director Adam Soltani said.
Saadiq, who served for a decade in the US army, has been barred from returning to the United States as US authorities has placed his name in the no-fly list.
His dilemma began six months ago when he purchased a KLM ticket to Oklahoma, where he grew up to see his ailing mother.
His visit was the first after the Muslim veteran spent a decade teaching English in three Arab countries; Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
But to his surprise, he was told by a KLM air representative that he was not allowed on board because his name is placed on the US no-fly list.
The Muslim veteran was never convicted or indicted in any crime.
Receiving no notice why his own government prohibited him from flying back home, Saadiq tried last week to take another shot to visit his ailing mother, but he was banned from boarding his flight from Qatar to the US.
Established in 2003 and administrated by the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, the no-fly list includes some 20,000 people deemed by the agency as known to have, or reasonably suspected of having, ties to terrorism.
About 500 of them are US citizens, according to an agency spokesman.
In May, fifteen American Muslims, including four military veterans, sued the federal government over being placed on a no-fly list for no apparent reason.
Saadiq's sister hopes that her brother will return back home to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family this week.
"Thanksgiving is not about what religion you are or the color of your skin," Anderson said.
"It's about spending time with your family, and we want Saddiq home with us next week. My mother's failing heart makes this an even more urgent request, that our family be allowed to spend time together as soon as possible."
Supporting Anderson in her petition, Soltani, the CAIR-Oklahoma director, shares a similar hope.
"We're hopeful that he'll make it home for Thanksgiving," Soltani said.
"Nevertheless, if he doesn't get back home, maybe we can get him home for Christmas."
Saadiq is not the first Muslim to face troubles over being placed on the no-fly list for no apparent reason.
Earlier this year, an American Muslim family was kicked off a JetBlue flight because their 18-month child was flagged as no-fly.
In 2009, nine members of a Muslim family were removed from a domestic AirTran Airways flight to Orlando, Florida, after they chatted about their seats in the plane.
Another incident occurred in 2006 when six imams were removed from a domestic flight for what passengers considered suspicious behavior.
They were removed from the flight, handcuffed and detained in the airport for questioning for over five hours.CAIR has earlier called on the Department of Justice to investigate acts of "coercion and intimidation" used by the FBI to pressure Muslim citizens into giving up their constitutional rights if they wished to return to the United States from overseas.