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Protecting us from people with Islamic sounding names

Bollywood film star Shah Rukh Khan was questioned for over an hour in Newark airport before boarding a flight for Chicago, allegedly because he had a Muslim name. Ironically, Khan is in the US to promote a film on racial profiling.

What I find annoying about this incident is that he was released after two hours because he contacted a politician in India, who then contacted the Indian Embassy in the US. In other words, he probably would have been detained for longer — indeed, the only reason we know about his detention is because he is celebrity. To his credit, Khan himself played down the incident.

For contrast, here’s what is happening to a Pakistani journalist, who is not a celebrity. Rahman Bunairee arrived a week ago with a US visa to begin a years job with the Voice of America in Washington. Bunairee was detained by US immigration, who will not provide any information about the case. A month ago his home was destroyed by the Taliban after he participated in a VOA radio call-in show and discussed continued Taliban presence in the northwest frontier region of Pakistan.



  1. henryyoung wrote:

    That’s terrible, when will we put a stop to this nonsense. Yes, I understand that we need to protect our country, but if he says he’s a STAR, then let him go by w/o any hassles. What will he think of we as Americans?

    Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 1:36 pm | Permalink
  2. Ann Cook wrote:

    I do feel bad he got detained, but after 9-11 homeland security can not take any risks. Has everyone forgotten that we are still at war? Unfortunately, there will be inconveniences, even for celebrities and diplomats. I am sure everyone would rather have an inconvenience than have a plane blown up.

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 11:25 am | Permalink