When recently the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a dubious Christian majority body from USA, put India on a so called “watch list” of countries for “lack of religious freedom and failure to protect the minorites, all that the Government of India officially do was “regret”.
One may recall that the same government in the pre-election days actually, initially, allowed this religious vigilante group to scrutinize religious freedom in India but then had to retreat and withdraw permission, amidst protest from different circles, including the Sankaracharya
Perhaps by limiting their protest to just a meek regret, they avoided sending any wrong signal to the minority vote banks, both Muslims and Christians.
For once they could have stepped out of their narrow, divisive, political gimmicks and state the truth that India is a secular nation because Indian Hindus want it to be secular. It would have enhanced their natianalistic stand, had they echoed the sentiment of the Christian leaders of Orissa, who emphasized that the “majority community has been extremely cordial and supportive of the minority community”
This time, though it looks like the equation is different.
This time it is a popular star, a huge mass appeal, the ‘Badshah of Bollywood’, the name of Shahrukh Khan, a perceived ‘secular’ Muslim – too many good brownie points to miss. There had been other Khans and other Muslims who have been ill-treated by US authorities, including a former President of the country, but those incidences have been sidelined successfully in due time. Also this is not like when Rahul Baba was detained in Boston – that needed to be hushed up. This incidence is something that has already started to cause public outrage and it is not only politically correct, it actually will boost the Government’s image. It would be surprising if the government would let this opportunity go.
It is possible that our ardent, US loving Prime Minister may even start having sleepless nights again and be ‘instructed’ to take his complain of ‘Insomnia’ to the US administrators, currently overwhelmed by the Obama Health Care Plan.
August 16th, 2009 – 12:34 am ICT by John Le Fevre
The Indian government has reacted angrily to the detention of Shahrukh Khan, one of it’s Bollywood superstars by US immigration officers. Khan, one of the best known faces in India, was detained at Newark Airport in Newark, New Jersey on Saturday as he traveled to Chicago to celebrate India’s Independence day and claims he was only released after the Indian embassy in the United States intervened. The 43-year-old actor, who has just finished filming a new movie, My Name is Khan, in the US, claims he was detained because he has a Muslim name.
“Certain countries have issues with my name. I am very proud of my name,” he said.
India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said India has taken up the issue with the US embassy and the consul general of India in New York is in touch with Shahrukh. Dubbed the “King of Bollywood”, Khan said he was questioned for two hours by immigration officials, and prevented from using his mobile phone to call for assistance.
US Ambassador to India, Timothy J. Roemer, said: “We are trying to ascertain the facts of the case – to understand what took place. He is a very welcome guest in the United States. Many Americans love his films.”
PTI | New Delhi
After a string of incidents like the one involving Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, who was detained at a US airport, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni on Saturday suggested that India should do a ‘tit-for-tat’ towards Americans. “I am of the opinion that the way we are frisked, for example I too was frisked, we should also do the same to them,” Soni said. Many examples like this have come from the US where frisking is done and “beyond permissible limits”, she said. “I don’t understand. In the name of religion, frisking can be done for anyone like this,” an angry Soni said.
This was not the first time that a prominent Indian was subjected to security checks in the US or by an American enterprise.
George Fernandes, who was then Defence Minister, was forced by US security officials to remove his shirt and shoes and made to undergo check at an airport in Washington when he was there on an official visit a few years ago.
The most recent case was that of former president A P J Abdul Kalam, who was frisked by officials of Contintental Airlines at the international airport here before boarding a Newark-bound flight. This had led to a furore in India.
Actor Kamal Hasan had to undergo security checking at a US airport in 2002, soon after 9/11, with some officials becoming suspicious about him while Malayalam superstar Mammootty too was detained at the JFK airport recently because of his middle name ‘Ismail Mohammed’.
Actor Irrfan Khan also faced a similar problem last year in US despite his global fame following the success of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.
Kabir Khan, Director of recent hit ‘New York’ which portrays victimisation of Muslims in post 9/11, was detained thrice while actor Neil Nitin Mukesh had to undergo similar drills.