AN airline supervisor says he is outraged after anti-terrorism police quizzed him for almost an hour - at the airport where he has worked for a decade.
Father-of-three Ruhail Ahmad (34), of Hardmans Road, Whitefield, claims he was singled out for questioning because he has a beard.
He flew back from a holiday into Manchester Airport on Tuesday, May 8, when he was asked to step aside by a Special Branch officer.
Mr Ahmad, who has lived in Greater Manchester all his life, said: "Part of my job relates to aircraft and passenger security and I know for a fact they stopped me just because I have a beard. To be treated in this way because I have a beard is absolutely staggering."
During the interrogation, he was repeatedly told he could face a further nine hours of questioning if he did not co-operate, despite showing the officers his airport identity card and even being recognised by several colleagues - including another Special Branch officer - as a time-served senior airline worker.
Greater Manchester Police confirmed the incident took place, saying it was part of their routine checks carried out daily at the airport.
A spokesman said: "A man was stopped by a ports officer at Manchester Airport for approximately 45 minutes as part of a routine inquiry after which he was free to go."
Mr Ahmad started work at the airport in 1997 for a handling agent. He has always been based at Manchester and frequently flies abroad.
"I had never had a problem before, but then in February I was arriving back into Manchester and a Special Branch officer took me aside and asked me some questions. I showed him my airport identity card and he let me go. On Tuesday, that did not happen and I am totally outraged," said Mr Ahmad.
He added: "This whole experience has left me anxious, worried and depressed."
Mr Ahmad was asked why he only visited Pakistan for five days, what were his views on the July 7 bomb attacks on London and what sect of Islam he belonged to.
His wallet, credit cards, passport and other personal possessions were taken from him for about 25 minutes and police spent 30 minutes searching his luggage.
"They went through my case with a fine toothcomb and the woman who questioned me asked me about every possible receipt and record she found. I was angry because I had absolutely nothing to hide. I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. I looked exactly like your average streetwise guy, except for the fact that I had a beard.
"I kept my cool, but it was hard, especially as a friend of mine, who is also a Special Branch officer whom I know from working at the airport, was stood right next to the officer who was questioning me. He told his colleague I worked there but she didn't care."
Three officers accompanied Mr Ahmad to the luggage carousel where he collected his belongings in full view of curious bystanders. Several of his airport colleagues noticed asked the officers why they had taken him.
Mr Ahmad added: "They took away my things, went through my luggage and were asking me about the July 7 bomb attacks, what I thought about politics, what Pakistani people thought of Britain. What are you supposed to say about July 7? Obviously you feel appalled by it like anyone would, so to be virtually accused of supporting the terrorists is just a huge insult, especially when they were saying that if I didn't co-operate they would keep me in for nine hours." Mr Ahmad was eventually allowed to leave. "My wife has never heard me swear before but I was coming out with all sorts of language because I was so angry. She was concerned because I was late home. They wouldn't even let me call home from airport. I just hope that I don't ever get treated like that in future and that the officers aren't as heavy handed with other people at the airport."