In eerie echoes of his role in the movie My Name is Khan, Shah Rukh Khan was today detained in Newark, New Jersey for two hours apparently because his name is Khan – a name on the alert list at US airports.
SRK was in the US to celebrate Independence Day. He was released after Indian Embassy officials vouched for him. “The US has developed religious paranoia over the years,” Shah Rukh commented, “My guard was also denied a visa because he has the same last name as mine. They said I could’t use my phone.” He went on to say his hand luggage was searched and he was grilled by a US immigration official, even though he attempted to reassure him that he was there at the invitation of the South Asian community.
His close friend Karan Johar said, “I’m shocked and upset…feeling terrible for Shah Rukh. Initial media reports said that he was ‘arrested’, it was awful. There’s a sense of humiliation and embarrassment. I mean being who he is, I don’t understand why he had to go through something like this.”
Twitter addict Priyanka Chopra was also quick to leap to his defence. “Shocking, disturbing and downright disgraceful. It’s such behaviour that fuels hatred and racism. SRK`s a world figure for God’s sake. GET REAL!!” she exploded.
India’s former ambassador to the US, Naresh Chandra said, “The authorities should have taken maximum 10-15 minutes for questioning Shahrukh, but it took two hours. It is great incompetence and has lowered the image of (US) Homeland Security”.
Other Indian actors who have been victims of crude racial profiling in the past in the US have included Irrfan Khan, Aamir Khan – who had to endure a strip-search in Chicago, Neil Nitin Mukesh, whilst on his way to film New York, and even superstar Mammootty.