Friday, August 19, 2016

Why Shah Rukh Khan and Other Indian Celebrities Have Been Detained at U.S. Airports

When Shah Rukh Khan tweeted that he was "detained" at Los Angeles' LAX airport last Friday, he made headlines as the incident was the third time the Bollywood actor faced such scrutiny by U.S. immigration authorities.

While it was not clear why and for how long Khan was held before being allowed entry, the resulting outcry also put the spotlight on, and raised questions about, how a range of Indian celebrities have had to deal with similar treatment in the past when traveling to the U.S.

While at times issuing apologies, U.S. authorities typically don't detail why certain high-profile visitors from India, or elsewhere, get held at airports. But it's not just Indians who have faced such scrutiny, with experts saying travelers from the Middle East have also been among those held up. In 2013, for example, Palestinian filmmaker Emad Burnat and his family were detained at LAX where he was asked to prove he was indeed on his way to the Academy Awards. Burnat, who co-directed the Oscar-nominated documentary 5 Broken Cameras, was eventually released after Michael Moore, a champion of the film, intervened.

“With increasing population, religious intolerance and increasing senseless violence coupled with the widening disparity between the haves and have-nots, we have to adjust to new ways in which the world has to operate," Navneet Singh Chugh of the Chugh Firm — whose portfolio includes immigration services and has offices in the U.S. and India — tells THR. He also adds that "the U.S., of course, is a bit too sensitive and extra cautious in these matters, in part because the U.S. faces threats from every direction. [That is the] price to pay for being the world's super-power and super-cop."

In a 2013 guest article for Outlook magazine, Khan said he was questioned about his last name during his 2009 interrogation by U.S. immigration authorities after he was detained at New Jersey's Newark airport. “I wonder, at times, whether the same treatment is given to everyone whose last name just happens to be McVeigh (as in Timothy)??” Khan wrote in the article, referring to the U.S. army veteran who detonated a truck bomb in Oklahoma City in 1995. Considered the deadliest act of terrorism in the U.S. before 9/11, the bombing killed 168 people and injured hundreds of others. McVeigh was convicted and executed in 2001.
19/08/16 Nyay Bhushan/Hollywood Reporter
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