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#Arbitrary: Cameron urged to challenge US over visa refusal to British Muslims as Australia joins in.

Leader of the Conservative Party David Cameron (L) kisses his wife Samantha on October 8, 2009 at the end of his speech on the final day of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, north-west England. With polls putting the centre-right party on course to win a general election due by June, British Conservative leader David Cameron will warn of tough choices as Britain emerges from recession -- but argue that his party can bring the country through. AFP PHOTO/ ANDREW YATES

Prime Minister David Cameron is facing calls to challenge Washington after a number of British Muslims were barred from travelling to the US.

Labour MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy, has written to Mr Cameron after a family from her constituency who had spent thousands of pounds on a dream holiday to Disneyland were told they would not be allowed to travel from Gatwick this week.

British citizen Mohammad Tariq Mahmood and his brother, who were travelling with nine of their children aged between 8 and 19, were told by US Homeland Security officials at the airport that they would not be allowed to board the flight, despite getting permission online for the trip.

Ms Creasy said she is concerned that a growing number of British Muslims are saying they have had similar experiences of being barred from the US without being told the reasons for the exclusion.

She said she had “hit a brick wall” trying to get answers from the American embassy in London and is pressing Mr Cameron to get answers from US officials.

Mr Mahmood told the Guardian that the children had been left devastated and he had only been told that he “must have done something wrong in the past” by US officials by way of an explanation.

Mr Mahmood also said neither he nor his brother, Mohammad Zahid Mahmood, had ever been in trouble with the police.

They have also been told that the £9000 cost of their flights will not be refunded.

Ajmal Masroor, an imam and lecturer based in London, told this week about his own experience being turned away from boarding a flight to New York on 17 December, after which he was told only that his travel authorisation had been revoked.

In a Facebook post, Mr Masroor said: “I am baffled, annoyed and angry.  USA has the right to issue and revoke visa – I fully understand that.  However not forwarding any reasons infuriates ordinary people. It does not win the hearts and minds of people, it turns them off.  I am amazed how irrational these processes are but does USA care about what you and I think? I don’t think so!”

Meanwhile on Thursday it emerged that a British woman of Syrian origin has been refused entry into Australia after her visa was issued and then revoked without explanation.

Zahra Ramadani, 30, from west London, was due to fly to Sydney on Thursday with a friend but was contacted by the Australian High Commission on Wednesday to say her visa had been revoked and that she was no longer eligible for entry into Australia.

Ms Ramadani, who works as a project manager for Marks and Spencer, told the Guardian that she felt the only explanation for the rejection of her visa to Australia is her place of birth.

Her family originally fled to Syria from Iraq in 1980 before seeking refuge in the UK in 1989 when she was four years old.

She said: “I’m really disappointed because I’m a British citizen and I have lived here most of my life.  I’m law-abiding and I lead a pretty normal Londoner’s life.  I am not remotely religious.”

“I didn’t even know I needed a visa. I thought, well, I’m British, there’s the commonwealth, you don’t need one.”

She added that when she stated in the Australian eVisitor visa application that she was born in Syria, she was required to fill in additional details about her extended family and her employers.

But whilst the electronic visa was eventually issued, she was told by the embassy on Wednesday it had been revoked.  The official refused to provide an explanation, Ms Ramadani said.



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