Bollywood star denies US race row a publicity stunt

By AFP

June 18, 2010 Updated Aug 18, 2009 at 8:10 AM EST

Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan on Tuesday denied that a row over US immigration officials allegedly singling him out because of his Muslim name was a publicity stunt.

Returning to India, the 43-year-old actor dismissed suggestions that the controversy, which triggered outrage among his millions of loyal fans, was created to promote his next film, "My Name Is Khan".

The movie deals with the experiences of Muslims in the United States after the September 11, 2001 attacks and tackles the contentious issue of racial profiling.

"It's not a publicity stunt. It's not about my upcoming movie. I know that the media has made it an issue," Khan told a news conference in Mumbai.

Khan, star of "Om Shanti Om" and the classic "Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge' (The Brave Heart Will Get The Bride), said at the weekend that he was detained for two hours at Newark Liberty International Airport near New York.

The actor claimed that he had been held and questioned due to his name.

But US officials said he was kept waiting for just over an hour until his luggage, which had gone missing, was located.

Washington's ambassador to New Delhi tried to placate Indian fury, insisting Khan was a welcome visitor to the US.

The dispute centred on the thorny issue of racial profiling and sparked condemnation from Indian politicians, some of whom called for tit-for-tat frisking of visiting US dignitaries.

Indian newspapers claimed the US authorities were discriminating against one of the country's biggest stars.

Speaking in Hindi and English, Khan told reporters on Tuesday that he had "no problem with what happened" and was not asking for special treatment but he hoped that the incident would not be repeated.

"Next time when Angelina Jolie is here, give me the chance to frisk her," he joked.




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