Shah Rukh Khan wailed: "But...but my name is Khan!!"

To which a US immigration official coolly replied, " what?!"

And that's how Bollywood megastar ended up being held at Newark airport for nearly two hours!!

Okay, that joke aside (with the plain reference of Shah Rukh Khan's latest movie titled "My Name Is Khan", you doofus!), I could imagine the shock & trauma that Shah Rukh Khan (A Wikipedia entry also spells his name as Shahrukh Khan) must have suffered!

After all, is he not the King of Bollywood?! Should he not enjoy treatments only kings enjoy?! (And that will surely include a hassle-free process while visiting another country.)

I know, I does sound ridiculous, doesn't it?

Therefore I'm very glad to read the more critical view from this The Economic Times, "Don't make a big deal of Shah Rukh Khan's detention" (And if you wonder the publication is part of India Times).

Partially quoted:
After a long time actor Salman Khan has come up with a real gem. On hearing about Shah Rukh Khan being questioned by US security at Newark, New Jersey, he said it’s good that the country has such a tight set-up. And that "there has been no attack after 9/11 because of this".

Salman has a point. SRK might be an icon to Indians, even to the desi diaspora spread across the globe, but to America he’s just a visitor.

We may be convinced he cannot be involved in anything that’s remotely violent, but the guard given the responsibility of stopping something like 9/11 from happening in his country again will want to take no chances.

Interestingly, the same day that SRK was detained in Newark, there came news that the great Bob Dylan, wandering around Long Branch, near New York City, was asked for an ID by two cops too young to know who he really was. When he couldn’t furnish one, Dylan was taken back to the resort where he was putting up and staff there vouched for him. And America is Dylan’s own country. Was there a furore? Not even a little blowin’ in the wind.

SRK says he’s "upset and angry because it was his Muslim name that caused all this". Countless Muslims are made to go through extra security checks everyday in America and other Western countries. Is he equally upset at that? He’s probably just miffed that it happened to him, India’s mega star.

Well, America is a different country after 9/11, one that takes the killings of its people with the seriousness it deserves, unlike India whose record on this is shameful.

That is just so well-written!! I won't be surprised that there would be angry Indian fans start protesting very soon against the paper. Heck, they even chanted anti-U.S. slogans and burned an American flag in the northern city of Allahabad.

The King Khan also was reported to tell his fans:
"At times I do not feel like stepping on American soil any more but I have millions of fans here who would want to see me so I will keep coming."

Partially quoted from The Economic Times, "Do not feel like stepping on American soil any more: Shahrukh Khan".

I hope the US immigration officials continue to be vigilant...and of course, to continue to detain this King Khan every time he comes till he learns his lesson to be respectful of other countries' rules & regulations. A little humility won't kill you, King!

Meanwhile the Indian Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel was quoted to declare:
"We will take the issue with the United States government strongly. Such incidents involving Indians due to their religion or nationality should not happen. We will not accept it."

Partially quoted from One India, "Govt. to raise Shahrukh's detention issue with US".

Tough words, Mr. Patel. I doubt you will enjoy any success, though. Still, it's a good attempt to appease the King Khan, eh?

Bollywood's reigning male star Shah Rukh Khan's most recent movie is called My Name Is Khan.

It details the travails of a moderate Muslim whose life has been affected by the changes in the mindset of freewheeling Americans since they suffered the terrorist strikes of Sept11, 2001.

On Friday, as he flew into Newark airport en route to Chicago for an Indian Independence Day celebration, Khan got a taste of that experience more real than perhaps even his considerable acting skills could have conjured up.

Alerted apparently by the 'Khan' in his name, which suggests his Muslim-Pathan roots, a US immigration official pulled him aside for 'secondary questioning' and kept him under virtual detention for nearly two hours.

This took place even as dozens of people at the airport - many of them his fans - offered to vouch for his identity. Allowed one phone call finally, as is the established procedure for such cases, Khan called his friend, Mr Rajiv Shukla, a Congress party MP.

Things quickly fell into place; the Indian consul-general in New York contacted the airport authorities and the tousle-haired star was free - albeit, shaken and deeply stirred. 'I would never want to come back to the US unless it was absolutely necessary,' he said after he was let go.

The incident has touched a raw nerve in India, coming weeks after it was revealed that former Indian head of state A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was given a humiliating frisking at Delhi International Airport by inflexible airline staff just before he boarded the first-class cabin for a Continental Airlines flight to Newark.

At least one Indian Cabinet minister has called for retaliatory steps against American travellers, and the Indian government said late on Saturday that it has taken up the matter with the US Embassy in New Delhi, which is checking what exactly happened.

A spokesman for the US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection was quoted by Associated Press as saying that the Indian star was not detained.

Aside from the outrage over the profiling of Khan, one reason for the furore is that India, which has the world's second-largest Muslim population, is proud of its syncretic culture and secular orientations.

From Straits Times, "Outrage over Khan's ordeal".


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