One of India's biggest stars, Shah Rukh Khan, was grilled for two hours by immigration officials at a U.S. airport because his name came up on a computer alert list.
Khan, a mega-star in Bollywood known by his millions of fans all over the world as "King Khan," told the Press Trust of India he was detained for questioning early Saturday at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.
"I was waiting for my bags … I thought it was nice of them to take me to another room … but that was apparently a second check. I had my papers in order," said Khan, who told the officials that he was a movie star when they asked him what he was doing in the U.S.
"I did not want to say anything just in case they took everything wrong because I am little worried about Americans, because they do have this issue when your name is Muslim."
Indian consular officials intervene
The actor was headed to Chicago to take part in celebrations Saturday with the city's South Asian community.
Khan, who says he was frisked and had his luggage searched, says he was able to send a message to a politician in India after an hour of questioning. That politician then asked the Indian embassy in Washington to intervene. Khan was let go after consular officials sought his release.
Indian authorities said Khan's detainment was one of many such incidents its citizens have experienced in the U.S.
"I don't think frisking is conducted with a religious bias in mind, but in the U.S. there have been many such cases when authorities go overboard," Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters in New Delhi.
Timothy J. Roemer, the U.S. ambassador to India, said in New Delhi he was still trying to "ascertain the facts of the case."
"Shah Rukh Khan, the actor and global icon, is a very welcome guest in the United States. Many Americans love his films," Roemer said Saturday through an embassy spokesman.
The 44-year-old performer has acted in more than 70 films and is in the U.S. to promote his latest release, My Name is Khan — a joint venture between 20th Century Fox and Star India, about an Indian Muslim who sets out on a journey across the U.S.
In 2005, Khan was honoured with one of India's highest civilian accolades, the Padma Shri. Two years later, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in London installed a life-size statue and the French government decorated him with the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of the Arts and Literature).