This has to rank among the more embarrassing airport diplomacy blunders in post-9/11 America: U.S. immigration officials pulled Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh “King” Khan aside for questioning at the Newark Liberty International Airport on Friday, failing to recognize the “King of Bollywood,” thus causing an international stir of a decidedly undesirable sort. —KA
AP via philly.com:
In Bollywood, his appeal stretches far beyond India and deep into the Muslim world , from Indonesia to the Middle East.
His happy-go-lucky personality on and off camera, his reluctance to take sides in politically charged matters and his “can’t we all just get along?” approach to deep divisions between Muslims and Hindus have made him a defacto ambassador for a global generation striving to overcome ancient hatreds.
Khan initially said his treatment by U.S. authorities left him “angry and humiliated” but later downplayed those comments and described the airport experience as “a procedure that needs to be followed, but an unfortunate procedure.”
Khan told the Times of India on Monday that he didn’t want an apology from the U.S. authorities, he just wanted to go home.
Ironically, Khan was in the U.S. to promote his new film, largely shot in California, about an Indian Muslim with Asperger’s syndrome living in a post-911 America. His character’s anti-social ticks and odd behavior are mistaken by U.S. authorities as suspicious and he’s detained as a suspected terrorist.