Shah Rukh Khan Detained in US – Things to Understand
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Detaining Shah Rukh Khan for two hours in US airports have become big news in
India. In fact whenever an Indian celebrity is detained for questioning in US a big ruckus breaks out in Indian media. Indian Government on all such occasion will express their anguish by letting US authorities know by summoning an US official and US on its part will issue an apology. Indian government has done its part by getting an US apology and media has done its part by sensationalizing this issue.
So has the media or government thought of this one – if celebrities are detained like this what are the hardships an ordinary man from
India or Pakistan or Middle East goes through especially Muslims in US airports and during visa interview? I am sure most of us – “the brown skinned Asians” (especially young males) who don’t have an US passport and travelled to US after 9/11 will have some story to tell about the discrimination you faced in US airport, especially when you come back after a visit to your home country.
This happened to my friend and this is the extreme I have seen happening to someone whom I know. This friend who studied in my same school for Masters is from
Bangladesh and came to US with a green card. But the problem was that his name exactly matches with some name black listed by US immigration as terrorist. So he could never check in online even for local flights as his name was black listed. Any time he flies (even for local flights) he will be detained and questioned for hours before he is allowed to fly. The worst nightmare waits for him when he comes back from Bangladesh. Every time he came back from Bangladesh, he was detained at the port of entry (entry point to USA) and he needs to answer in detail what he did, where all he went in Bangladesh in detail when he was away from US. So many detentions and now my friend is used to it, even though every time this happens he is very frustrated.
What I understood from my Bangladeshi friend is that if you name matches with a terrorist name in
US list, you will be detained for detailed questioning and then only allowed to fly. Some fan of Shah Rukh Khan may have named his son SRK and later he may have come up in the terrorist list of US Immigration and that may be the reason SRK is detained over and over again.
I always use to tell these days –
America is a country with no discrimination of any kind once your immigration process is over but there is blatant discrimination based on race and religion in airports and embassies. US government may deny it but this is a fact after 9/11. I know lot of Muslim friends from India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran and other Middle East countries who were denied US visa or visa process getting longer (due to process like background check etc) or questioned for hours together on arrival at Port of Entry – just because they have a Muslim Name.
The Indian media and government should put pressure on US Government to stop this racial profiling happening in embassy and Port of Entry rather than making a hue and cry when some celebrity is detained. Remember when one Shah Rukh Khan is detained for two hours in an US airport, thousands of ordinary people from India, Pakistan and Middle East also are detained just because – they have a name that match a terrorist; they have a “brown skin”; they look like a Muslim; they have a Muslim name; This needs to be changed or otherwise we will continue hearing stories of detention of people in US airports. I hope
US authorities will make appropriate changes in their screening system so that no innocent visitor has to go through this ordeal.
If you have any personal experience in
US consulate or at the Port of Entry in US where you feel you were discriminated please do share here.