England cricket star Moeen Ali was questioned by UK Border Police for 40 minutes at Birmingham airport upon arrival back home, an incident he slammed as a “joke”.
Off-spinning all-rounder Ali played an instrumental part in England reaching the ICC World T20 final in India, where they lost to the West Indies in the decider at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
But after travelling back to the UK, Ali arrived at Birmingham airport on Saturday to rejoin his county Worcestershire ahead of the local England season.
Ali took to Twitter (@MoeenAli) to vent his frustration, saying that he had never been through a similar experience when part of the England squad. “Have never been stopped at the airport when travelling with a team in uniform, but travel alone and get stopped for 40 minutes!! Joke”, he tweeted, adding later: “Birmingham airport!! Hard times.”
Ali, a devout Muslim who was incidentally born in Birmingham and is of Pakistani origin, was supported by fellow English internationals Adil Rashid and Owais Shah, with the latter saying on Twitter that “your beard might have something to do with it #sadreally”.
Birmingham airport officials suggested to The Independent that Ali was stopped as he had apparently failed to declare that he had “exceeded his duty-free allowance”.
Ali later tweeted: “apparently can’t buy gifts for the family that’s more then £390.”
He received a backlash on Twitter, with some saying that it was a routine security check and he wasn’t being targeted because of his beard, and one even compared Ali to so-called ISIS fighters as they posted a picture of an alleged ISIS leader with a long beard.
The Independent reported that when they asked why Ali was stopped in the first place, the airport said any enquiries must be directed to the UK Border Force.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office declined to comment on Ali’s case.