15 August 2009 ~ 0 Comments

My Name is Khan And Hence I was Detained

Imagine detaining Tom Cruise in Mumbai because his common name is on a list of common names allegedly associated with ‘terrorism.’

http://img199.imageshack.us/img199/8312/shahrukhkhan14999619559.jpg

Shahrukh Khan is living a Kafkaesque nightmare — detained in New Jersey for his last name while he is in the United States shooting “My Name is Khan.”

And ironically, he was detained because his name ‘Khan’ (a common Muslim last name) is on some ‘no-fly’ list. Talking about giving credence to his new movie.

The Times of India reports:

The actor, who is visiting the US to attend a South Asian event where he was the guest of honor was released after Congress MP Rajiv Shukla spoke to the authorities in the US and the Indian consulate. The actor was detained after his name flashed on the computer. He was asked several questions about the purpose of his visit. His hand baggage was checked. He was not allowed to even make a phone call for nearly an hour.

I know about ridiculous things that happen due to airport security paranoia. I know that even former Indian President, Abdul Kalam, was frisked last month by an American airline in New Delhi.  Shahrukh seemed offended and perturbed, rightly so.

“I told them I was a movie star and had recently visited the country for the shooting of my film. Nothing seemed to convince the immigration officer. There were other immigration officers who even vouched for me but this particular officer did not listen to anyone. I even told them I had an invitation from the South Asian community and was there to attend an event.’’

What’s interesting is that Dave from Change.org was just telling me earlier today that Newark is not a safe space to travel for undocumented immigrants. Apparently, immigration officers don’t just discriminate based on documentation but race is also a proxy for criminality.

SRK is big–he is the biggest star in Bollywood and has millions of fans. Some reckon that he has more fans than Tom Cruise. In 2007, during the shooting of Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, the subways in New York had to be shut down due to the presence of thousands of his fans. And now twitter is going crazy with angry Indian people around the world:

virsanghvi The real secret of the war on terror is that it is run by morons. No wonder Bin Laden is sitting pretty while the likes of SRK are hassled

sadhavi Disturbed after seeing the reports coming in on SRK being detained for 2 hours at Newark Airport..I mean who duznt know Shahrukh??

justin2908 @kjohar25 Feeling ANGRY abt d SRK incident! Nvr really been a fan..but he’s an INDIAN and my blood boils when it happens 2 ny Indian nywhre

adarshprasad WTF!! Frisking APJ; detaining SRK? UR BAD, UR BAD, REALLY REALLY BAD!! United States of Paranoia don’t be stupid – you’ll loose ur charm

priyankachopra Shocking,disturbing n downright disgraceful.Its such behavior that fuels hatred n racism.SRK’s a world figure for Gods sake.GET REAL!!

It’s Independence Day in India and instead of the presidential address, this issue is all over the news. Of course, the American mainstream media won’t touch it.

Regardless of the fact that Karan Johar and Shahrukh Khan have managed to gain attention for their upcoming movie–a blessing in disguise courtesy U.S. immigration–I certainly want an apology from the highest echelons in Washington and change in racist immigration policies. It’s not alright to detain anyone due to how they look or their last name be it SRK or a migrant worker. But when it happens to global icons like Shahrukh Khan, you know that there is a need for change, not just talk about change.

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