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'King Khan' gets prominence in US media

By L K Jha Washington DC
August 16, 2009 15:24 IST
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At a time when the Obama administration is attempting to develop a new relationship with the Islamic world, Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan's statement that he was grilled at a United States airport because of his Muslim name has gained prominent space in the American media.

The presence of 'King' Khan, who was followed by American mainstream media quite prominently for a "byte" in connection with Saturday's incident at the Newark airport, could have gone unnoticed otherwise, as has happened in the past.

The Bollywood heart-throb had returned to India only a few weeks ago after a month-long shooting of his film 'My Name is Khan' in the US.

The Daily News headline on the incident read 'Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan held at Newark Airport; claims racial profiling due to Muslim name.'

The Washington Post headline said 'Indian Star Questioned at Airport, Rising Ire'. Its report said that "news of Khan's detention broke on a day of national pride (India's Independence Day), marked by parades, family picnics and girls wearing bangles in green and orange -- the colours of the Indian flag."

News channels aired non-stop coverage of Khan's troubles, along with reactions from Bollywood A-listers, civil rights officials and security experts, some of whom defended the questioning in a post-9/11 scenario, the daily said.

The New York Times used an AP story on the Bollywood star.

However, a blog titled 'Questioning a Bollywood VIP Named Khan' appeared on the newspaper's website.

"Even if United States officials were simply following procedures when they held Shahrukh Khan, an Indian actor, at Newark Liberty International Airport .... they are certainly guilty of bad timing," it said.

"To make matters worse, Mr Khan is also working on a new film, 'My Name is Khan', about racial profiling of Indian Muslims living in the United States after the September 11 attacks," it said.

'The Los Angeles Times' put up a brief report on the incident. "US customs officials disputed claims that Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan was detained for two hours at a New Jersey airport, saying he was questioned for a little over an hour as part of the standard process for screening foreign travelers," it said.

The incident "made top news on TV stations in India," wrote 'The Mercury News, which is published from the Silicon Valley in California.

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L K Jha Washington DC
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