Did Indians overreact to Shah Rukh Khan being detained?

By Reuters Staff
August 16, 2009

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan was en route to Chicago for a parade to mark Independence Day when he was detained and questioned at Newark airport.

INDIA-USA/KHANAfter a couple of hours’ interrogation, the 43-year-old actor was allowed to make a call, getting in touch with the Indian consulate who vouched for him and secured his release.

The incident sparked uproar among Khan’s fans in India, who vented their anger over the Internet and in protest marches.

This is not the first time an Indian celebrity has had trouble with U.S. immigration officials and security checks.

Last month, U.S-based carrier Continental Airlines apologised to former Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for frisking him at New Delhi airport.

On Saturday, Information Minister Ambika Soni said while she could not say if Khan had been detained “on religious grounds, there have been too many instances like these in the U.S. concerning Indians”.

A Times of India report on Sunday said U.S. officials feel some Indian visitors are “needlessly huffy about routine security procedures and there is a broad cultural mismatch”.

Are Indians overreacting? Or is the U.S. taking things a bit too far?

Khan is a celebrity but what about ordinary Indians who travel to the U.S. — do they face racial profiling?


Of course its racial profiling. Ever since 911 happened, Americans think anyone with a Muslim name has to be a terrorist or supports Osama bin Laden.

Posted by kirti | Report as abusive

Al Gore had to go through a security check.


Ted Kennedy had a bad experience.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/04/0 6/terror/main610466.shtml

These things happen – I remember being frisked real bad along with everyone in Middle East in the 80s.

Grow up SRK and India.

An Indian in US.

Posted by John Haggai | Report as abusive

What’s the big deal. This happens to non-Americans at US airports every day. So he had to wait for a couple of hours — they didn’t lock him up or something? For the record, I am an Indian and have nothing personally against SRK.

Posted by lemming | Report as abusive

Would Americans be upset if Joe Biden was detained in the same manner, or Brad Pitt? Nuff said!

Posted by rhea lahiri | Report as abusive

What’s the big deal that “King” Khan with his King SIZED ego got delayed for 2 hours … grow up King Ego Khan. What’s make him think that he some thing very special. Also, my dear Indians friends, stop screening and shouting over every petty incident. GROW UP INDIANS !!!!

Btw – I too am an indian and have travelled to USA many times. Some times it was smooth sailing and some times it was not !!! So whats the big deal.

Posted by Preetam Singh | Report as abusive

Indians are over emotional people. Even a petty little thing makes them go nuts. This is a no issue and should have not even been discussed by the media.

SRK grow up…..!!!

Anyway, I think, Salman Khan had some thing to do with incident :)

Posted by MyNameIsAlsoKhan | Report as abusive

Get real people, in USA only the sitting president & his cabinet are considered VIP, even Al Gore was twice screened recently with out him making any fuss, no one is above the law here

Indian American from NY

Posted by Vin Raj | Report as abusive

We have too many things to worry about in the US to care about an Indian movie star’s kerfuffle with the New Jersey port authority. So he doesn’t want to touch US soil again? Who cares? We don’t.

Posted by Give it a rest, love | Report as abusive


Posted by PERVEZ | Report as abusive

Would Americans be upset if Joe Biden or Brad Pitt were similarly questioned on a commercial flight? Absolutely not.

We would be upset if they acted like prima donnas though.

Posted by an american | Report as abusive

what if we delayed or frisked hilary clinton secretary of state? how will the Americans react? It’s not ab’t SRK it’s ab’t how they treat us.

Posted by sethu | Report as abusive

It is very unfortunate that TSA agents take things this far and it seems idiotic that an international celebrity was detained for two hours, but this does not only happen to Indians. US airport security is ridiculous for everyone unfortunate enough to have to fly to or in the US, even white US reporters: http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/07/17/watchli st.chertoff/index.html

Posted by Lindsay | Report as abusive

Indians should be proud of US security services. Always Professional, Respectful and Friendly. There is no special treatment for VIPs in American Law and all citizens and visitors are treated according to the law. Many senators, holywood rich n famous get arrested for traffic or other violations.

Any visitor (including SRK and other VIPs) should respect the Law-of-the-Land he is visiting. If SRK wants VIP traetment 24×7, he should stay at home. Don’t blame the security people for doing their duty.

India should have a similar system to protect it’s citizens. Such tight security will save so many Indian lives!

Posted by An India- American | Report as abusive

It’s sad that smart and well traveled person like SRK is blaming security people for doing their job. SRK should stay at home get VIP treatment all day.

My apologies to all security people. Keep up your good work! Harder you work, more secure we are!

Posted by An Indian American | Report as abusive

Well, what if he wasn’t able to make that one call. Probably would have landed in prison…never know. Because he is a celebrity he got through it, what if a normal person went through this ordeal (probably in prison until he is proved innocent). SRK because of his power was able to make it public, which gives US the basis to reconsider their screening procedure.

Posted by anonymous | Report as abusive

Yes. This is a big over reaction. Happens all the time in airports and not just to Indians – to people of all backgrounds including Americans.

Re: Frisking Hillary Clinton? Do you not see the difference between an official visit from an elected official and a “movie star”?

Posted by barbara pfieffer | Report as abusive

Ex-President Kalam didn’t mind going through security and he fully cooperated. Govt came to know abt the incident 3 months later. He understands the responsibility of security officers.

SRK thinks he is bigger than Ex-President Kalam? SRK made some calls to Indian politicians from the airport to save him. Sad and unprofessional that instead of complying to security requirements, he is calling his political friends to save him? With this kind of ethics and integrity, India is not going anywhere. India should abolish this VIP system, all citizens should be treated equal and law should be same for all.

I am an Indian, living in the USA for 12 years. I have nothing other than respect and appreciation for America and it’s legal system. We should have similar professional system in India. When I visited India recently, I had to bribe at least 4 officers to get things done. Because the officers knew I had a short stay and deliberately delayed my applications.

India should change rather than asking America to change. Follow USA!

Posted by An Indian living in the USA | Report as abusive

What’s a big deal if shahrukhan is detained.he has gone there several times to earn money .if he loves money from usa he has to love it’s law also
be sporting king khan

Posted by ulka | Report as abusive

I am an American and I don’t think all Muslims are terrorists but I do think that Airport security is horrible- for all of us. My fiance, a Latin with a UK passport who lives in the states, gets “profiled” every single time we fly to the UK. I am a white American and I get frisked, have been questioned and have had to deal with jerks at the airport. The procedures suck but the fact of the matter is that it’s only a “big deal” when a celebrity gets detained. If Brad Pitt or Joe Biden were detained, we’d be fine. We’d like it as it would show that we’re all going through it. Celebrities and politicians are not Gods, they are humans and they should be treated like the rest of us.

Travelling sucks for most of us, deal with it and keep the headlines for the real horrors such as poverty, oppression, sex trafficking and real news.

Posted by Liza | Report as abusive

The US has to be security-conscious as much as they can considering 911. What if a top mafia guy dressed up like SRK and entered the US? Will India take the responsibility if a fake SRK enters the USA? And Salman said it correctly that this is a routine check that happens at the US. Not to mention, this was a publicity stunt by SRK maybe in collaboration with Fox Film Productions, as they both have an upcoming movie ‘My Name is Khan’ which is based on such incidents happening in USA. This looks like a fake arrangement in the USA for publicising SRK and his movie.. Why else would a country’s top celeb land up in Newark and not NYC? Because maybe the setup was easy at Newark.. Moreover SRK went there for an unsolicited function, didn’t he?



The issue is not that Mr.Khan was detained for 2 hours. The issue is that he was detained for simply being a Muslim and having the name Khan. The US which does this racial/religious profiling accuses India of being discriminatory towards Muslims and Christians. That is the greatest comedy.

Posted by Shaan | Report as abusive

The concern isn’t about the frisking that was done. The concern is why is this restricted only to certain people. DO IT FOR EVERYONE, every single person entering the country. DO NOT SINGLE OUT ANYONE based on their NAME or COLOR.

Posted by Rakesh Mehra | Report as abusive

This was required. Otherwise how would you realize the severe lack of intelligence in the system? Some people who have no respect for great achievers don’t see any problem in this, citing system. What kind of system is this, where you can not recognize a world figure, a person whom billions know all over the world? I would like to know the algorithm behind picking him up. People who have cited names that have had to go thru security system are diverting; it is not going thru security check, it is picking him up as their intelligence(?) suggested, and detaining for questioning. The officials are saying that they did not detain him, just were questioning, for 66 minutes. Imagine Biden or Brad pitt being questioned at New Delhi airport for 66 minutes by indian officials, suspecting them to be terrorists. Some say it happens to many people. Is that a justification? Why not outsource the system for better intelligence?

Posted by quark | Report as abusive

“what if we delayed or frisked hilary clinton secretary of state? how will the Americans react? It’s not ab’t SRK it’s ab’t how they treat us.”

It’s called security. It has absolutely nothing to do with “the way americans treat indians” it has to do with the fact that American’s don’t treat celebrities as though they are incapable of being a threat. Also, I’d never heard of this man until this issue came to light, so its highly likely that when Khan said “I’m a celebrity” the guy who stopped him rolled his eyes and thought if not said, yeah right. Trust me, I get a couple of dozen people a day who try to play the “I’m related to your boss, your mother in law, someone famous.”

Posted by Katrina | Report as abusive

Indians consider it a symbol of status to have the ability to avoid being frisked or in any other way harassed when flying to the states. Many politicians and stars will obtain VIP status in order to avoid this.

Posted by me | Report as abusive

it not frisking people that is the problem. These procedures have existed since mass/public airports existed. It is only culture/race/reliong dynamics that have started to intensify since the end of the cold war. It is only the ambitious dogs we put in charge that see in their best interest to create fear, propoganda, and paranoie by overstepping their role of authority. In this case of the India star, its was TSA.

Posted by dcacct | Report as abusive

I think it is now time for us in India to squash any VIP treatment to so many people except sitting Prime Minister, his cabinet and President of India. Enough of misuse and making big deal of these egoist stars and politician. Get real people, learn to live what is life for a common man. Security checks are for security of common men, learn to respect rights of common men.

Posted by Sujeet | Report as abusive

Those posting that SRK got delayed for two hours and he should get over it, you dont get it, do you?

Its not about being delayed, but infact being detained and asked question for 1-2 hours on the basis of your surname and surname only, no evidence, no suspicious behaviour what so ever.

And yes i do believe that Indians over react in evey situation possible (comming from an indian in Australia)

Al Gore can not be compared to SRK, ask yourself has Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt ever been questioned?

Posted by Sim | Report as abusive

2 hours? should have take maximum of 15-30 minutess, not to forget that SRK only got released when the Indian Authorities intervened.

Algore went through a security check which when for 10-15minutes NOT 2hrs questioned without being allowed to have any contact with anyone for 2hrs.

You think this is justifiable? It not about anyone ego or whatnot.

Posted by Jess | Report as abusive

it was not TSA agents..it was custom officers. and i can guarentee you American custom officers treat the public better than Indian custom officers. i’m white, been held up in India a lot longer than two hours (custom officers report states it was only 66 min by the way). SRK is a wuss!

Posted by joannasmith | Report as abusive

What’s the big deal in asking the questions… they are doing there work… Security is of high priority.. there shouldn;t be any discrimination between comman people & stars.. or even politicans…..
Please stop acting like childs…

Posted by Navin | Report as abusive

Pevention is better than cure.TSA is just trying to do their job. If it were India’s security concern will they not detain any one being flagged??.I believe SRK should convey to the media and the public that its okay to be searched and calm the unnecessery publicity of his so called image.We love him as an actor/ star but grow up SRK there are more priorities to take care of,and spread a goodwill.

Posted by Dinesh G s | Report as abusive

This is never happened ti Angelina Jolie when they visit ti India.


before 911 attacks the security at the airports was lax. i know when i used to come form india, i used to think india is one country that does lot of security . but americans were forced to catch up and even surpass.
it is something they are doing to keep their nation and the flying safe.

2 hours of questioning is very common. being asked to move separately to question is not detaining. they have done this to hindus also, they have questioned any kind of people with kids or infants. they usually give u a space to sit and aks you to answer. it usually takes time because they do some checks simultaneously.

it is not some kind of annoying mental game like law and order questioning.

khan is getting to know how people go thru. he thinks he is king khan every where in the world. you got your chance to come down to earth shah rukh.

Posted by vivek | Report as abusive

Many of Indian arguing that If US celebrity has been frisked how US will react. One thing is sure for US people they don’t demonstrate such aggression for any of their hero who has to suffer a little as an hour to follow the law. This bollywood star will understand how other people will feel to make them wait for hours & hours on any stage shows or film sets. As far as last name Khan, Muslim people are whining about profiling. Unfortuantely 9/11 & 11/26 masterminds are Muslims only. For US nothing is above law , not religion nor celebrity – including US own celebrity , vice presidents. One thing is surprisingly in favor of Sharukh this turns to be good marketing plot for his film. If he is so prejudiced to US better don’t sell rights to US.

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

I respect Mr Khan as an actor but I don’t think this incident deserves the kind of attention it is getting. We have this persecution complex and need to get rid of it

Posted by SJ | Report as abusive

lol VIPs are not abouve the law. SRK is a human and not anything else. The Indian government made a big mistake asking the US to explain why SRK had to stop for a security check. Its foolishness to when a STUPID GOVERNMENT asks a SMART GOVERNMENT the reason why a fool was investigated . LOL …………

Posted by J.S.A | Report as abusive

Shahrukh himself says that this is not the first time.
So, why is it that this controversy has has surfaced when his movie ‘My name is khan’ is on the blocks.
Wow! he is really a businessman, he knows how to promote things.

Posted by Nitesh | Report as abusive

I understand the need to be vigilant. I also understand the need to treat everyone equally. What I don’t understand is how long does it take the CBP to know whether Shahrukh Khan is really who he claims he is.

Posted by Nitin Saini | Report as abusive

I strongly believe the hue-and-cry about Shahrukh Khan’s detention at Newark airport is related to up-coming movie “My Name is Khan”.

This is not the first time people have been stopped for security checks at airports and certainly not the last. Shahrukh himself says he has gone through such treatment before.

So the question to be asked here is why all the fuss this time? and the answer is quite simple… his next film “My Name is Khan” which has a story-line similar to this treatment.

Posted by Gajendra | Report as abusive

Congrats Shah Rukh, For the free publicity of the next film. As long as people fight if its right or wrong, you win!


SRK kickstarts a gr8 PR strategy 4 his upcoming movie “My Name Is Khan” by blowing the US airport drama out of proportion in his usual style

It is sad SRK is mixing religion in the US airport delay. It is very irresponsible & selfish of him to act like this to promote a film


It happened on right time with right person, now Americans would undersatnd, how important is SRK for india. SRK is not as like a movie star in Hollywood ( mostly loose charactor), he is a Global icon for india.

Posted by Eram | Report as abusive

Yes agree SRK is not above the law – but the immigration should have some mechanism to verify quickly a person who claims to be a celebrity. Is it a case of US overreacting to terrorist threats ??!! – they do deals with Taliban, Osama is freely roaming in Pakistan – despite an independant ageny pointing out his location and phone calls, they do business with Bin Laden family ??!!,. Does it take more than 30 minutes to know if he is really SRK ?? – even Kerala Police will not take that much time to identify an Anjelina Jolie or Brad Pitt etc.

Posted by Biju | Report as abusive

Yes. Looks like SRK has vested interested in stirring the emotions back home and for him, a great deal of publicity is coming at free of cost.

Posted by Mk | Report as abusive

When Emran Hashmi cried discrimination against Muslims SRK was the first person to deny any discrimination against him.

Why is he then blowing this regular checkup out of proportion? SRK is big in India, but outside India against Hollywood stars who are a global icon he doesnt stand a chance.

Wake up SRK u r just big in India, outside India only Indians (and their friends) know you.

Posted by Chinmaya | Report as abusive

No, I think we should have done much more. I would say we should react every time a top level guy is mistreated in other country. Not just US it should be same for every country.

Apart from this the special previlages given to foregin dignitories ( not refering to official visiting for official purpose, but movie starts, politicians, sports persons).

Looks like we go over board to given the special treatment (royal treatment) when some white guy comes to india.

Come on we got indepandance long back, have to retain the respect and pride. Dont start behaving like slaves befor whites persons even in our own country

Posted by Rajeev | Report as abusive

Well Mr. Khan, It was only after 9-11 did all this Airport security get tightened. So why is it the fault of the American immigration officers. Blame it on the 9-11 people.

Posted by SD | Report as abusive

yes…why are we bothering unnecessarily…Let them do their immigration checkups as they want..and this guy should go through as normal checkups……If he does not like it , should not go there…..that is it…..

Posted by geo | Report as abusive

Biju, kerala police will be busy officiating a strike in kerala. they have no time to angie or brad .

Posted by vivek | Report as abusive

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