Celebs share detention ordeals after SRK gets detained at a US airport again
On Friday, we woke up to Shah Rukh Khan’s tweet on being detained at the Los Angeles airport. “I fully understand & respect security with the way the world is, but to be detained at US immigration every damn time really really sucks (sic),” wrote the actor, who was earlier detained at Newark airport (2009) and New York airport (2012).
“The brighter side is while waiting caught some really nice Pokemons (sic),” he added.
SRK, whom Kamal Haasan is very fond of, would be pleased to know he has undivided support from senior actor Kamal Haasan, who too has faced a similar ordeal. “We don’t need to over-react just because this Khan is a Shah Rukh. I don’t think Shah Rukh himself minded the detention. I know the gentleman (that he is). He would never say, ‘I am Shah Rukh Khan, so I should be treated differently from other Khans.’
He had earlier said, ‘Each time I want to feel normal, I visit the US’ . His fans might feel injured on his behalf, but it can’t be helped. US is an injured nation.The Americans are just being careful. This happened to me, too, and I had to miss my flight.There was no great apology or anything.It’s just rules they’re following,” says Haasan.
The actor says he was detained and questioned at an airport in Canada recently, as his name sounded distinctly Muslim. “My father did a very mischievous thing, maybe because I was born when he was 50, and by then he had developed a sense of humour about human quirks and contradictions. He gave me a Muslim-sounding name. And the ambiguity of my name does confuse the Americans. I enjoy that,” says the actor.
“My father too enjoyed the ambivalence. My brothers Charu Haasan and Chandra Haasan don’t have to face this. In fact, my father was keen that I spell my name ‘Kamal’ with ‘Q’ in a very Islamic way.I had almost listened to him. Then I backtracked. But I feel I should go for it just to show a sense of solidarity with my Muslim brothers,including Shah Rukh. It doesn’t matter whether I am really Muslim or not. If I have to suffer for my name I’m willing to do so,” he adds.
Haasan frequently gets into the ‘suspicious’ segment of the US immigration department. “Sometimes they take me aside and ask me questions.Just because we do business with America they think we are questionable. If we’re so touchy about immigration rules in America, we shouldn’t be doing business with them,” says the actor, who feels racial and cultural suspicion exist in every society.
“Talk to an Afghani who comes to visit India . Afghani students can’t get rooms to stay in India .There’s resistance to Afghani passports in India. Why are we so touchy about American treatment? They’ve a 9/11 to caution them. India should stop acting paranoid about racial profiling,” he adds.
Actor Irrfan Khan faced interrogation on two occasions at American airports. “More than the physical torture, it’s the wounds of humiliation that never heal after you undergo such a horrific experience. I was detained in New York and Los Angeles airport for secondary interrogation. I was outraged. I was told to quietly come into a room for questioning and identification verification. I wasn’t allowed to talk. When I tried to ask why I was being treated this way, I was told to keep quiet. I wasn’t allowed to use my phone. They said, ‘No, you just sit down.’ All because my name was Irrfan Khan. You can’t argue or rationalise,” Irrfan had said in an earlier interview.
Filmmaker Kabir Khan had to face the brunt of Islamophobia in the US. “I was accompanying my wife in the US along with the Morani Brothers. It was a flight from LA to Washington just 15 days after 9/11. So the fear and paranoia were not totally unjustified. We were waiting for the flight to take off talking to each other in Hindi when some passengers complained that we were talking in a ‘strange’ language. Within no time, two burly FBI agents came on board and took me and my co-passengers to the front of the plane. When they got to know my name, they questioned me for more than two hours, googled my name for terrorist links and then finally allowed me to fly.
“They asked me if I had been to Pakistan. I told them no. If I had told them that I had been to Afghanistan, they’d have freaked out. Two other passengers on board refused to fly with us. So they were asked to deboard. So you see, post 9/11 persecution comes with its inbuilt safety measures. But I honestly think a part of the global fear is justified. We can’t blame people for being paranoid after what had happened,” Kabir, who was questioned again at an American airport, had said earlier.
“On a second occasion, this time in New York I blew my top when I was detained. I told this big black American guy, ‘Please clear the confusion about my identity once and for all. Or don’t provide me with a visa. I don’t want to come back to the US.’ The guy wanted to know if it was a threat. I was taken aback. (Filmmaker) Mira Nair had to intervene. She advised me to never counter-question them. This is the free spirit of America. This 90-minute detention changed me completely. Can you imagine what a 90-day detention can do to an innocent man thrown into jail,” said Kabir.
Not every Khan is unhappy with the treatment at American airports. Foreign travel is no longer a hassle for television actor Iqbal Khan. Till recently, he was denied a visa to the US because of his surname. “My foreign trips, especially the trips to the US, are no longer a hassle. After the media took up the issue of my visa, I received a call from the American consulate.Now I’ve a ten-year visa to the US,” says Iqbal, who was deeply embittered by the religious cultural and racial segregation that he witnessed while applying for a visa to the US.
He, however, felt good to see that US airports have a prayer room for the devotees. “I pray five times a day. And I’m happy to say there’s prayer room on the American airports. It makes travel to America all the more pleasant,” says Iqbal.
Follow @htshowbiz for more.