Bollywood Star Detained in Newark Airport, Fans Furious

Exquisite irony: Actor was in US filming movie on racial profiling

By Jennifer Millman
|  Saturday, Aug 15, 2009  |  Updated 3:18 PM CDT
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Don't worry, SRK. We're just as dumbfounded as you are.

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Bollywood legend Shah Rukh Khan just got some critical insight for his role in an upcoming movie, thanks to law enforcement at New Jersey's Newark Airport.

Khan, a world renowned Indian actor, was on his way to Chicago yesterday for a celebration of Indian Independence Day when authorities at Newark took him aside and interrogated him for hours, reports Reuters. The 43-year-old says he may have been targeted because he is Muslim, and his detention sparked uproar in his home country.

"I was really hassled perhaps because of my name being Khan. These guys just wouldn't let me through," Khan said in a text message to reporters in India.

The highly-acclaimed actor was ushered into a back room and grilled about why he was in the country.
 
That's a funny story.

Khan had just completed a month-long shoot in the United States for his new film "My Name is Khan" – a movie about a Muslim man's experience with racial profiling slated to come out in 2010, reports Reuters.

Talk about life imitating art.

The actor was simply waiting for his bags when the officials approached him.

"I thought it was nice of them to take me to another room ... but that was apparently a second check. I had my papers in order. I was really taken aback," Khan said, according to IMDB.com. "Absolutely uncalled for, I think. I felt angry and humiliated."

News of Khan's confinement rapidly went viral. As soon as Indian TV broke the news, fans and other actors in the country flocked to the web to tweet about their fury at what they perceived as racial and religious discrimination.

"Shocking, disturbing n downright disgraceful. It's such behavior that fuels hatred and racism," actor Priyanka Chopra wrote on his account. "SRK's a world figure for God's sake. Get real."

U.S. Ambassador in India, Timothy Roemer, said authorities are looking into why Khan, whom he calls a "global icon," was treated in such a manner. He is "a very welcome guest in the United States," Roemer added in a statement conveyed through an embassy spokesman.

While Indian Information Minister Ambika Soni said she couldn't say for sure whether Khan was held because of his religion, she said, "there have been too many instances like these in the U.S. concerning Indians."

Khan has acted in more than 70 films, and has consistently topped popularity charts in India for the past decade.

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