Shekhar

President Obama to invite
Shah Rukh Khan to a beer

By Shekhar Kapur

(Courtesy of Shekhar Kapur)

(A Kavita Media Presentation. Please email comments here.)

Having heard of many friend's experiences, I completely empathize with Shah Rukh Khan's experience at Newark Airport in the US. It is somewhat disturbing to suddenly be interrogated and made to feel like a potential terrorist.

However lets get a perspective on this. The US has a much more compassionate President in Obama, who is trying his best to reach to the Muslim people all over the world to make peace, and the world community must take that into account. But it takes time to change everything. Every country has to do what it believes it needs to protect it's civilians. I am sure most Indians would ask for far stricter border protection at our airports to screen potential terrorist threats.

I believe what happened to Shah Rukh was a huge blunder, but what happened to our ex President Abdul Kalam was far far worse. It happened on Indian soil. But I admired the calmness with which Abdul Kalam dealt with the issue himself and displayed so much humility. Unlike our Cabinet Minister Ambica Soni who said we should respond with a 'tit for tat'. What are you going to do Ms Soni ? Interrogate every American Citizen arriving at our shores for an hour and a half ? Or wait for Brad Pitt to arrive here ? Cabinet Ministers need to make more considered statements.

I do not agree with religious profiling. I still think the world (and not just the US) is Islamic Phobic. The more fear and phobia there is, the more the world will give rise to young Muslim minds that will turn to extremism. I think the US needs to reconsider how to approach the whole problem of Airport Security. Was this not what finger printing and retina photography was supposed to do at immigration ? Give the immigration officer an instant profile of the person entering the US ?

I also think President Obama and his British allies have not thought through their Afghan policies. Creating the nation of Afghanistan into a battlefield for your own perceived notions about a threat to your own security is not fair. In the course Pakistan has been taken over by fundamentalists too. Afghanistan threatens to turn into Obama's Vietnam.

In light of which what happened to Shah Rukh is a minor incident which we should protest about, yes. Ensure that this does not happen to an Indian public figure like him again, and move on.

And President Obama, adept as he is diplomatically and politically, should invite Shah Rukh to a family dinner over beer and one of his Bollywood films.

Shekhar Kapur, born 1945 in British India (in an area which became part of Pakistan) is a renowned filmmaker from India. His works include the Oscar-nominated Elizabeth (1998), a semi-historical account of the early reign of Elizabeth I of England, "The Four Feathers" and "Bandit Queen". In 2000, he was awarded the Padma Shri by the government of India.

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