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Racial Profiling : Shah Rukh Khan detained at an US airport yet again

14 Apr

Shah Rukh Khan has been detained at an US airport yet again 😦  when he was on his way to deliver a lecture at Yale.  As per media reports it took two hours and intervention by the Indian Consulate and the dean of the Yale University to be allowed to enter the country.  It is a real shame that a man like him has to go through this – and as if once is not enough he has been through this multiple times.  I really shudder to think if a man who is extremely famous is not recognized then what about the normal mortals.  Remember, this recognition (rather lack of it) is not by a layman on the street (who can be forgiven if he doesn’t know an Indian star) but by the intelligence of one of the richest countries of the world.  The same country that espouses equality and spends serious money on intelligence gathering.

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with targeted profiling in itself.  If somebody who looks like a South Asian, practices Islam terrorizes innocent people then profiling everybody who fits this racial pattern is a good practice and and it is a dollar well spent.  If 99% of terrorists fit a specific profile then the case for checking out others (Caucasians for example) is very weak.  In fact targeted profiling would mean that the citizens are safe and this includes the innocent population who fall into the profile.

What is not negotiable is innocent people getting harassed.  Double check of credentials, reasonable physical security checks that do not compromise the dignity of the person, some questioning to ascertain the genuineness of the traveler are acceptable.  But it should not take hours and should not victimize innocents.  For the trillions of dollars spent of intelligence and security, the system owes everybody some surety.  I wonder if the intelligence is sooo weak that a big and well known star like SRK gets into trouble then does the system catch the real / possible terrorist, may be named Shah Rukh Khan as well?

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