Friday, April 13, 2012

He is one of the most famous men on the planet. Adored  by millions. His films are almost always box office smashes. But when Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan travelled to the US on Thursday, he was detained by security for two hours while they checked out his "status".

Ironic, considering his biggest hit film was the story of a man determined to visit the US president and give him a very simple message: My Name is Khan and I'm not a terrorist. 

The film is a powerful look at what it means to be Muslim in the land of the free and the home of the brave.  I wonder if he told Homeland Security that he wasn't a terrorist. 

Yet I feel as though that's exactly what I am. A criminal. Each time I sat in this holding facility I looked around at the people sat with me. Tired children. Harrassed parents worrying about what is going on. One time I even saw a near blind old man in wheelchair. 

Occasionally I saw Europeans, but the vast majority of the time it was men between the ages of 18-45. I'm taking an educated guess with that figure. I didn't take a poll. They seemed to be of south Asian or Arab origin, and again I'm taking an educated guess.

Male. 18-45. Of south/central Asian or Arab origin. That's a massive demographic to tar with the same brush. Every time I was tired, hungry and I could feel that I was about to get rattled. But shouting and getting angry would not have helped. These men are just doing the job.

It's the US that has a problem. It's simply in a tailspin when it comes to dealing with Muslims. America is scaring the very people it needs to help it. Good US citizens who pay their taxes, vote and who love the country are concerned about what's happening.

The US was brutally hurt by the events of September 11th 2001. But over a decade later it has not learned the lesson that its greatest asset is people. If future attacks from a tiny but determined minority are to be stopped, then enlist the help and respect of those good people who share the name of the faith with the terrorists, but not their spirit.

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