Salt Lake Muslim Cleric, a U.S. citizen, treated like a terrorist

[UPDATE]

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - A Utah Muslim leader who was barred from boarding a flight and not allowed to enter the United States, returned to Salt Lake City Sunday afternoon with his family.

 
"We will not stop fighting for injustices," said Yussuf Awadir Abdi, the imam of Salt Lake City's Madina Masjid Islamic Center. 
 
Abdi, an American citizen since 2010, traveled to Kenya to pick up his wife and five children, who he says have all of the required legal documents, and bring them home to Salt Lake City. Abdi was able to leave the United States with no problem, but when he tried to return, Abdi found out that he was on the 'No Fly List.'
 
The United States citizen was stranded at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya since Wednesday, after Qatar Airlines stated he was not allowed to enter the U.S.
 
"Because we are Muslim that's it. I have been targeted. I don't have any crime, I never did any crime, so it's because of my religion," said Abdi. "Today I will take advantage of this incident -- not for myself or not for my family, but for the people today who are suffering who cannot come back to their country."
 
Lawyers with the Refugee Justice League were made aware of Abdi's situation and filed a legal motion to bring the Muslim leader home.
 
According to a press release sent out by the Refugee Justice League, "its lawyers, along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations National Legal Defense Fund, filed an emergency Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief in United States District Court on behalf of Abdi."
 
The Complaint details how the U.S. government is unconstitutionally preventing Yussuf Awadir Abdi from returning home by placing him on its No-Fly List, though he has not been arrested, charged, or convicted of any type of any offense, and only after he had left the United States. 
 
"If they put you on a list because of your religion, your ethnicity, or your national origin, it's discrimination," James McConkie, Refugee Justice League, told Good4Utah's Brittany Johnson.
 
Attorneys said that Abdi and his family were repeatedly delayed in customs and then conveniently released after their plane took off.
 
"Someone in the U.S. Government should be very ashamed of themselves," said Gadeir Abbas, Senior Litigation Attorney, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
 
After finally being allowed to board the plane from Kenya to the U.S., the last leg of the Abdi family's journey included one more delay. For unknown reasons, the imam said his wife was asked to stay behind in Los Angeles, but Yussuf and his kids were given the green light.
 
According to Abdi, that's when a pilot with American Airlines stepped in.
 
"The pilot for American Airlines said, 'I will not leave until I take this family,' " Abdi told reporters. "The pilot says 'no, the family is okay, there's nothing wrong with them.' "
 
Abdi said he is happy to be home and back with his family after being separated for five years.
 
"I feel very happy because we have been separated for many years, and today is something like, I cannot express my happiness."

[PREVIOUS VERSION]

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - Yussuf Awadir Abdi has been stranded at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya since Wednesday, after Qatar Airlines stated he was not allowed to enter the United States and barred him from boarding his return flight to Salt Lake City with his wife and children.

Yussuf Awadir Abdi has been an American citizen since 2010.

 

This is a developing story that will be updated.


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