Saturday, 15 August 2009

Indian Actor Detained At Newark Airport

Ever heard 2 completely different versions of a story? Well, this is the perfect case scenario.

I recently heard of the Indian actor, Shahrukh Khan being detained at Newark Airport (ironically at a time when Indians are celebrating their Independence day - August 15th) because, well, coz he is a Muslim. The timing is also ironic considering his next project to be released is "My Name Is Khan" which is based on racial profiling.

According to an American paper, SRK downplayed the event and it was reported as if the whole incident was no biggie. Which actually isn't a biggie because he's famous but rather because he was among many who undergo racial profiling. Such reporting is nothing new when it comes to American papers as far as I have seen.

"I told them I am a movie star," Press Trust quoted Khan as saying.

The reported detention made top news on TV stations in India.

Kahn told reporters in suburban Chicago on Saturday that he did not want an apology from the U.S. government. Asked about what happened, he simply said: "I think it's a procedure that needs to be followed, but an unfortunate procedure."
His surname is Khan not Kahn. *rolls eyes* Evidently, the news reporter can't spell because they are too busy writing their own version and downplaying the reality of security checks. Ever heard of Google, sir?

According to other papers such as the Hindustan Times, he was quite upset by it.
Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan was on Saturday questioned for two hours at the Newark airport in the US over his surname and was freed only after Indian diplomats intervened.

The Indian government and entertainment industry reacted furiously after the 43-year-old actor, named by Newsweek last year as one of the world's 50 most powerful men, revealed how he was detained and stopped from even using his mobile telephone.

"They checked me because I was an Asian," the actor said. "They wanted to know why I came to the US and where I am staying."

Shah Rukh's manager Niloufer Qureshi earlier told IANS over telephone from Mumbai: "He was detained because his surname is Khan. He was kept until officials from the Indian embassy intervened."
According to Gulfnews paper:
"I was really hassled perhaps because of my name being Khan. These guys just wouldn't let me through," he said in a text message to reporters in India.

"Absolutely uncalled for, I think. I felt angry and humiliated," said Khan, who just finished a month long shoot in the US for his upcoming film, My Name is Khan, which is a Muslim man's experience with racial profiling.
According to the American papers he was detained for 66 mins whereas according to the Gulf paper, he was held back for a couple of hours. He was lucky he had the Indian government to help him in this regard. What about the poor Muslims who have no connections what-so-ever and are detained for hours to days because they look or sound Muslim. It's an unfortunate situation and although Obama is trying to improve the image of America by visiting Middle Eastern countries, it would be really helpful if there was a way to change the perception of Americans towards Muslims as well.


Jaz said...

That's terrible, but what excuse do they give for detaining people? Is it random? I mean, I know it wrongly seems to have a lot to do with suspicions about certain communities, but surely they have to give a reason? Or do they have a quota that they have to detain 3 random people for security checks per day or what?
All that aside, I love SRK! He's funny in all his movies :)

firdous said...

As you write in the end, i think the mind of americans is changing, Some ppl hate muslims more, but also allot of amercians converts, alhamdulillah.
But this is really something in the countries where there was terror bombings. I have never heard of this in sweden.
Not to the same extent.

Nasreen said...

Jaz - well, random checks, and maybe more than required checks, often occur with Asian/Arab or Muslim looking people. In SRK's case, apparently his name popped up in regards to terrorism or a suspicious person. In reality, they don't need a reason to detain or arrest you if they suspect you might be a terrorist and they don't require proof in such cases. Hence many such people were held outside US. It's unfortunate because more often than not, the person is innocent but once you are in the system it's becomes rather hard to get rid of that accusatory label. Which is why several prisoners who were released from Guantanamo as being innocent have problems entering their home country because the countries refuse to take them back. It's also the fault of many of the Muslim countries who are allowing such injustice to happen with their own people. And when they refuse to take these people back and rehabilitate them into society, where would they turn to besides a real terrorist? There needs to be an end to this vicious cycle.

Firdous - you know how it's said, whatever happens is for the best? And whatever happens is by the will of Allah (swt)? I feel that everything that happened also benefited Islam. People do not have the excuse of not having heard about Islam and many who did researched about it, converted/reverted to Islam. There are many Americans who totally are sympathetic to the way things turned out for innocent Muslims and that's a start. Infact, if it wasn't for many Americans, it would be impossible for Muslims to get Gitmo to be shut down or to become even a matter of controversy. InshaAllah, by trying to be better Muslims we can try to change the opinion of others of how they view Islam and Muslims and that is the best form of dawah. :)

Mimisha said...

When i got checked in german airport they watched me in a very bad way and treated me not really like the other passengers, i guess thats what u have 2 take when u decide 2 show u r a muslim..
i like shah rukh khan even though he said india comes first nislam comes 2nd in his life :S

Nasreen said...

As salaam walaikum Mimisha,

Thanks for commenting. :D Sorry to hear about your experience. I understand the need for checking but I don't understand the bad attitude. Just remember, leave what they do upto Allah (swt). By His will no harm will come upon us. Even when people aren't Muslims they get treated badly. We are just the new group to face this treatment. But we can learn a lesson from this. We should try our best to treat others, irrespective of race, religion, gender, etc in a good way. After all, we'll be judged for our actions so lets worry about ourselves and inshaAllah we'll invite more people to Islam this way. :)

By the way, where did SRK say he's an Indian first? Not surprising I guess. He's not really a practicing Muslim. As far as I know, he doesn't pray. InshaAllah he becomes a better Muslim this Ramadan. :)

WhiteOrchid said...

so they detain him just because he has a muslim name?? yeah he's not a practising muslim is he. At least he had someone to make a few calls for him. What happens to 'normal' muslims who are detained this way

Ramadan Kareem sis

Nasreen said...

You're right. He isn't a practicing Muslim. It was rather strange that I read his named popped up in their system when his name is pretty unusual. He was lucky in that situation that he was famous and had people who took immediate action on his behalf. It's unfortunate that regular Muslims do not have such an advantage. There's nothing really one can do in such a situation. InshaAllah the situation of Muslims would improve.

Thanks for the wishes! Belated Ramadan and Eid Mubarak. Thanks for dropping by. :)