Muhammad Ali’s son told Democratic lawmakers Thursday that he felt “just like I felt at my father's funeral" when he was detained and questioned about his faith re-entering the country last month.
Muhammad Ali Jr. and his mother, Khalilah Camacho Ali, testified on Capitol Hill as part of their efforts to speak out against President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.
The pair, both U.S. citizens, were detained on Feb. 7 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport when returning from Jamaica in the chaotic days following the implementation of Trump's first executive order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority nations.
They told lawmakers that U.S. customs agents separated them to ask about their religion and how they got their names, even after they described their relation to the famed boxer.
“I felt that my human right was just abused. I felt like an immigrant, you know,” Ali Jr. said. “I mean, I felt just like I felt at my father’s funeral.”
Muhammad Ali died of Parkinson’s disease last June. Following the Muslim icon's death, Trump called Ali “a truly great champion” and shared photos of himself with the star athlete on social media.
But Ali had made it clear he opposed then candidate-Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States.
"I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world," Ali said in a statement to NBC News in December 2015.
“Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam,” he added.
Related: Essay: What Muhammad Ali Taught Me About My Faith and Identity
Ali Jr. and Camacho Ali’s visit to Washington, D.C. comes as part of their "Step Into the Ring" campaign to oppose Trump’s agenda. They have the backing of famous fighters Evander Holyfield, Larry Holmes and Roberto Duran, the Associated Press reports. And they’re framing the effort as a direct clash with the new administration through the #AlivsTrump hashtag.
A federal court blocked the travel ban Trump signed a week into his presidency. But his administration this week unveiled a revised ban that now restricts travel from six Muslim-majority countries.
“I would love to join the fight to end this racial profiling act ... I just pray that everyone steps into the ring and fights for religious freedom,” Camacho Ali said during the immigration forum.
“A campaign promise cannot be what you do to run this government,” Rep. Sheila Jackson, D-Tx., said. “Mrs. Ali, you should not be a victim of wrong statements made on the campaign trail. You should be able to be a recipient of a little book called the Constitution.”