Muslim teen refused re-entry into US despite being a citizen

Zubaidah was returning from a trip to the Middle East with her family

News Desk March 21, 2017
Zubaidah Alizoti (L) was not allowed to board the plane for her flight back to the US. PHOTO: FACEBOOK

A Muslim teen from Knoxville was denied permission to board a Turkish Airline plane in Istanbul for a flight back to the US on Sunday, despite being a US Citizen, the KnoxNews reported.

Zubaidah Alizoti was  returning from a Middle East trip with her family when security personnel from the Airline declined to take her aboard. The rest of the family, however, was allowed to board the plane.

The 17-year-old's mother, Sabrina Sadaf Siddiqi took to Facebook to inform family and friends of the incident. The post has since gone viral.

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"I've been absent from my social media because I was taking an epic journey to surprise my mother, father, family & friends by going with them to umrah again Alhamdullilah! (Pictures to come soon iA). But today, as we tried to board our flight back to America my daughter, my 17-year-old, my kind, my courteous, my loved by many, my Tennessee born daughter was denied entry back to her country, my country, our country," she wrote.

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In another post, Siddiqi said that the family was trying to get in touch with US diplomats in Istanbul.

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Accompanying Zubaidah and her family was Zaynab Ansari, an instructor at the Tayser Seminary in Knoxville, who returned to the US on Sunday. Ansari told the local daily that she was unaware that the Alizotis did not make it to the flight until she landed in Atlanta.

In an email to the newspaper, the president of Zubaidah's school [Webb School] Michael McBrien said that "We have no information regarding their status in Turkey other than what has been reported in the Knoxville News Sentinel. We are keeping Zubaidah and her family in our thoughts and prayers, and we hope for their speedy and safe return. And we’re looking forward to welcoming Zubaidah back to campus."

Meanwhile, the Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Representative John J Duncan Jr's staff have taken notice of the incident and are working for solutions.

"I saw the Facebook posts about the Siddiqi family's situation, and I was concerned," the Mayor said in a statement. "I contacted the offices of Congressman Duncan and Senators Alexander and Corker, and they all responded promptly and promised to reach out to the Siddiqis. I have heard from Sabrina Siddiqi that she has heard from them, and she appreciates the support."

According to Jesse Mayshark, the mayor's spokesperson, Senator Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander were contacted on Monday, to help in the matter.

When approached by KnoxNews, Press Secretaries for Governor Bill Haslam and Alexander acknowledged the news but did not comment on it.

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According to the US Transportation Security Administration, the Knoxville resident could not board the flight because the airliner did not forward necessary information to the department in time.

"International carriers are tasked with providing security information to the federal government before a passenger can fly into the United States," TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz said in an emailed statement. "That did not happen in this case."

While the US Customs and Border Protection also denied involvement. A spokesperson for the department said that the agency did not prevent Alizoti from boarding the plane, the daily reported.

Turkish Airlines representatives did not return emails from the newspaper requesting comment on the matter.

Despite the inconvenience, Siddiqi said in another post that "I (still) believe in America".

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Ch. K. A. Nye | 4 years ago | Reply @goggi (Lahore): And therein lies the problem... you are not integrated into German society if you consider your homeland to be somewhere else. More to the point, you consider yourself to be a Lahore instead of a Pakistani. Divisions, divisions is how we are ruled.
Ch. K. A. Nye | 4 years ago | Reply @shiraz: I'm no fan of the Donald but just what does this have to do with him? It was Turkish Airlines who didn't provide accurate information to the TSA. Do at least try to read up on a story before commenting.
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