Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Shah Rukh Khan Melee

Everyone is expressing their opinions about the Shah Rukh Khan episode in Newark. Ms. Shobhaa De has asked Shah Rukh Khan to grow up. Priyanka Chopra has called this incident unforgivable.

Others are stating that even Senator Kennedy and Al Gore were detained and questioned, but they didn’t make any hue and cry about it. Instead, they quietly cooperated and let the security personnel carry on with the procedures.

Still others are saying that stars/ powerful people in India are spoilt and that they throw their weight around too much and Shah Rukh Khan tried to do the same there.

True perhaps. We have all suffered because of some unknown politician’s distant relative, or some neta’s brother-in-law. But that’s digressing from the point.

The question is, why did this happen?

Did it really happen because he is Muslim? Possible.

There are too many Islamic militants threatening to blow us all up. So it is only normal that we, the others, get paranoid and start suspecting everybody who is a Khan or an Ali.

Is it right to do so? Now that is definitely debatable.

All I’m saying is that, just because of a group of terrorists from a certain religious community, we cannot crucify the whole community.

Generalization is bad. It will always remain bad.

Remember the Mangalore incident where the girls were beaten up for behaving indecently while having lunch at a pub? Didn’t those guys claim that they were the keepers of Hindutva? Do we call all Hindus women-beaters just because of that tiny group of rowdies?

I hope not!

Just because a certain group of Aryans butchered and tortured races which they claimed were inferior to them, did the world hold all Aryans guilty of the same crime?

Definitely not!

Then why is every Muslim eyed as a potential terrorist?

The American may be justified in carrying out security checks according to protocol for the security of his nation, but is he justified in venting his frustrations on every Ali or Khan just because he is Muslim? I definitely think not.

So the question now is, what went wrong that day? Why did they have to detain Shah Rukh Khan and repeatedly keep telling him that his name was common? Couldn’t they have taken his finger prints and cross-checked if he was telling the truth? How many times has Shah Rukh Khan been to the US? Do they have no official records of him and his name?

As for Shah Rukh Khan getting miffed, I would have too. In a foreign land, when I am called aside for questioning, I will feel insecure, to begin with. And to top it, if they deny me the right to make a phone call, I will definitely freak out.

Who wouldn’t? Shah Rukh Khan had the right connections, so he made the right call. He had the power, so he spoke to the media. If I had the same position as him, I would have done it too.

For those who claim that what happened with Shah Rukh Khan happens to them at all times, they must really be something! I, for one, would have either quit traveling to foreign countries altogether or would have filled at least 5000 plus words on my blog on why it is so not fair!

As for this being a publicity gimmick for his next movie, I think Schwarzenegger inviting him to dinner is more like it.

It’s time for all of us to shake off the colonial hang-over and start putting our foot down. If they had their 9/11, we also had our 26/11. They are not the only ones suffering. We are too.

I am not questioning their stringent security measures. I am just concerned about the attitude with which these checks are carried out. I am not worried that I might have to answer a few extra questions because I am an Indian or a Muslim. I am just worried about the derogatory manner in which these questions will be asked.

I don’t have any conclusion to offer. There is no action that I can ask you to take. There is just a thought that I can leave you with – the very lines that Shah Rukh Khan quoted from Pastor Martin Niemoller’s poem, They Thought They Were Free:

"First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me."