x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

India fumes over Khan's questioning

India reacted with outrage yesterday after the Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan said he was detained for questioning at a US airport.

NEW DELHI // India reacted with outrage yesterday after the Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan said he was detained for questioning at a US airport, though immigration officials denied he was formally held. Fellow Indian film stars and political leaders condemned what they called "humiliating" treatment given to Khan, a Muslim who is well-loved in a largely Hindu country. One cabinet minister suggested a "tit-for-tat" policy toward Americans travelling to India.

Khan said he was detained on Friday by US immigration officials at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey because his name came up on a computer alert list. The actor is in the US to promote a new film, My Name is Khan, which is about racial profiling of Muslims after the September 11 attacks. The story was front page news in India, where the ability to avoid being frisked at airports is seen as a status symbol. Politicians, sport celebrities and film stars often claim VIP status to avoid security checks. "My name is Khan? Too bad. SRK [Shahrukh Khan] feels the heat of American paranoia," said The Times of India, quoting Khan as saying he felt "angry and humiliated".

Khan later downplayed the incident. "I think it's a procedure that needs to be followed, but an unfortunate procedure," he told reporters on Saturday in suburban Chicago. US customs officials said Khan was questioned as part of a routine process that took 66 minutes. Enraged fans yesterday planned to protest against the incident with a demonstration near India's parliament. "Shocking, disturbing n downright disgraceful. It's such behaviour that fuels hatred and racism. SRK's a world figure for God's sake. Get real!" the actress Priyanka Chopra said on her Twitter feed.

The federal information minister, Ambika Soni, angrily suggested that India adopt a similar policy towards Americans travelling to India. * Associated Press