Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 19:42 pm (KSA) 16:42 pm (GMT)

UK Muslim minister held for explosives in U.S.

In U.S. for dicussions with Dept of Homeland Security, which later detained him (File)
In U.S. for dicussions with Dept of Homeland Security, which later detained him (File)

Britain's first Muslim government minister said he was "deeply disappointed" Monday after his luggage was searched for explosives at a United States airport as he returned from official talks.

International Development Minister Shahid Malik was detained for about 40 minutes at Washington Dulles airport Sunday by the Department of Homeland Security after meeting officials from the same department to discuss terrorism.

"I am deeply disappointed," he said.

"I really do believe that British ministers and parliamentarians should be afforded the same respect and dignity at USA airports that we would bestow upon our colleagues in the Senate and Congress."

"Obviously, there was no malice involved but it has to be said that the USA system does not inspire confidence."

Malik, who said the same thing happened to him last year at JFK airport in New York, added that he had received apologies from the U.S. authorities following the incident.

He said he was stopped along with two other Muslims -- "the other two were black Muslims, both with Muslim names," he said.

Malik, 39, was elected as a lawmaker in 2005 and became a minister in Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government in June.

Prophet's image

Meanwhile an affiliate group of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference on Monday condemned the extreme-right Danish People's Party decision (PPD) to use the Prophet Mohammed's image in its electoral campaign.

The OIC Observatory on Islamophobia denounced the decision in a statement from its Jeddah headquarters as "irresponsible, especially as it is emanating from a political party with the sole aim of inflaming hatred against a sector of the citizens of Denmark."

The PPD said on Thursday that it had created an image of Mohammed for its campaign material to illustrate the Danish value of freedom of expression.

The likeness shows a man's head wearing a turban, but it is not a cartoon.

The party made its selection as a way to explain that the crisis that hit Denmark in 2005 after a Danish daily published a satirical Mohammed cartoon was "an incident that threatened the Danish value" of freedom of expression.

The incident sparked anger throughout the Muslim world.

The 400-year-old Mohammed image chosen by the party is not controversial, PPD spokesman Kim Eskildsen said on Thursday a day after Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen called legislative elections for November 13.

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