India's Biggest Actor Detained At LAX For No Good Reason
While he's not a household name in the States, Shah Rukh Khan has attained legendary status in other parts of the globe. Over the course of 80-plus Bollywood movies, he's established himself as India's premier leading man. He's made more money than Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp. SRK Universe, a fansite devoted to Khan, has almost 2 million followers worldwide. And, in 2012, Yale named him as the year's Chubb Fellow, an honor bestowed on individuals who have "helped define the challenges of our times and the ways that we should seek to address them." Past honorees include Maya Angelou, Joe Biden, Gloria Steinem, and Harry Truman.
None of this played a role, it seems, when Khan was stopped by immigration authorities at LAX on Thursday. He was eventually released, but it remains uncertain why he was detained, and for how long, reports Variety. He later received a Twitter apology from the U.S. Ambassador to India:
Khan, while certainly frustrated by the whole ordeal, also took the opportunity to make a Pokemon Go joke:
I fully understand & respect security with the way the world is, but to be detained at US immigration every damn time really really sucks.— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) August 12, 2016
The brighter side is while waiting caught some really nice Pokemons.— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) August 12, 2016
As Khan had referenced in his tweet, this is not the first time he's been stopped by customs agents for no good reason. In 2009 he was interrogated for 90 minutes when he landed at Newark airport. And in 2012 he was detained for 90 minutes at a White Plains airport near New York—he was arriving by private jet to accept the aforementioned Chubb Fellowship. According to the BBC, Khan said he was detained at White Plains because he had a Muslim name.
Of course, Khan is not the only person who's gone through this frustrating and demeaning process. Last month, Maria Abi-Habib of the Wall Street Journal said that she was pulled aside by Homeland Security agents when she'd arrived at LAX. They'd attempted to seize her phones, but she said she couldn't hand them over as they belonged to the WSJ. She was released about a half hour later.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, customs officers are allowed by law to stop, detain and search any person or item. They're also allowed to question a traveler's immigration status. They are not, however, allowed to do a personal search based on race, gender, religious or ethnic background.
You can learn more about Khan through a recent interview he did with CNN's Fareed Zakaria: