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U.S. apologizes to Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan, again

April 13, 2012 |  5:15 pm

NEW DELHI -- The U.S. apologized Friday after one of India’s biggest movie stars, Shahrukh Khan, was detained at customs -- again -- on his way to give a speech at Yale.

The Bollywood sensation was reportedly held for nearly two hours at the airport in White Plains, N.Y., after arriving on a private plane from India on Thursday. Other passengers on the flight were cleared without a problem. Khan was allowed to proceed after the Indian Consulate intervened.

Celebrity culture is huge in India, and Khan is among India’s biggest names. In 2009, he was detained at the airport in Newark, N.J.,  eliciting a similar Indian outcry and U.S. apology. After the latest intervention, New Delhi told India’s ambassador in Washington to take up the matter with the “highest U.S. authorities,” even as U.S . immigration authorities reportedly expressed in a letter their "profound" apologies.

After his release, Khan voiced his displeasure during the Yale fellowship presentation. "Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself, I always take a trip to America,” he said. “The immigration guys kicked the star out of stardom."         

The incident set off a torrent of messages on Twitter. "Honestly what's the big deal??” wrote Omar Abdullah, the top elected official in India’s northern state of Jammu and Kashmir. “This airport detention thing happens all the time & to all sorts of people. Get over it." 

Others, such as Twitter user Marie Gold, saw it differently: “‏ Profiling Muslims in the US has become a norm and looks like there is no going back,” she wrote.

Cases of officials and former officials being patted down, strip-searched or forced to take off their shoes and belts at security have made big headlines in India, where VIPs generally can avoid security checks.


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-- Mark Magnier

Video: Shahrukh Khan speaks at Yale University after being detained by U.S. immigration officials. Credit: NDTV