Shah Rukh detained at US airport, freed

Soni suggests a tit for tat; US embassy in damage control mode, says actor is welcome

Shah Rukh detained at US airport, freed


The government’s reaction came against the backdrop of a nationwide shock, disbelief and anger over Khan’s detention because of his “common surname”—apparently a euphemism for Muslim surnames in the US post- 9/11.

The US Embassy in New Delhi immediately got into a damage-control mode, with Ambassador Timothy J Roemer saying the “global icon” Khan was a “very welcome guest” in the US  and adding that his office was trying to ascertain facts.

However, Khan himself gave a detailed account of the incident. Speaking to private TV channels, the actor, whose upcoming film “My Name is Khan” focuses exactly on the paranoia of the US establishment about anyone with a Muslim name post-9/11, said the detention and questioning had been done because of his surname.

While Khan refused to term it a case of racial profiling, his manager Nilofer Quereshi was quoted as saying that the actor had been questioned because of his Muslim name.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) took up the matter with the US Embassy here as soon as reports about the incident started trickling in. MEA spokesman Vishnu Prakash said the Consul General of India in New York was in touch with Khan.

However,  Ambika Soni reflected the sense of outrage in India over the incident, saying: “I am of the opinion that the way we are frisked—for example, I too was frisked—we should also do the same to them.”

There are several examples of such frisking “beyond permissible limits” of people travelling to the US, she said. “I do not understand how in the name of religion can frisking be done for anyone like this,” she added.

The 43-year-old Khan, who was on his way to participate in  Independence Day celebrations in Chicago, told TV channels in the US that he was asked by immigration officers why he was visiting the US after his name popped up on the computer screen at the counter.

“It is a Muslim name, and I think the name is common on their checklist. I was taken aback. I was taken to a room where there were several others waiting for secondary immigration checks. Obviously most of them were Asians,” Khan said.

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