The “Khan” effect

Judging by what happened yesterday, I would say US Airport Officials want us to believe that regardless of background or qualifications, anyone with the last name of “Khan” could possibly be a potential terrorist wanting to blow up all of America.

While news channels in different countries portrayed the event – the detention of Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan – as either “humiliating” (as per the Indian media) or “a dramatic over-reaction” (as per the pro-American news channels), what this really shows is how fundamentally flawed the American so-called counter-terrorism intelligence really is.

I mean firstly, not only did they manage to attack and invade a sovereign country under the pretext of non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction (does anyone even remember that anymore?) and defend that claim for over a year, but when the truth finally did come out in 2004 – that, in fact, there really was no WMD and that the intelligence was seriously flawed – they conceded that damage was already done. And that they now had stay in order to “stabilize” a country they originally invaded on stupid intelligence.

And coming back to the present, now because Mr. Khan is a global celebrity with good political connections, he was just ‘taken aside’ for questioning and released with the full support of the Indian Embassy 2hours later.
But I shudder to think what would have become of the more common Khan – one who is not so well connected to people in high places.
Would he have been held for days, maybe weeks for the “secondary questioning”?
Or maybe even sent to Guantanamo Bay, just like the countless other innocents languishing for years there, held without any charge?

Regardless of whatever “its-all-for-security” reasons anyone gives, if a computer turns up someone’s name just because of their cultural or religious affiliation without any other basis, it shows how pathetic the whole system really is. I mean seriously, do they program those things to turn red and sound alarm bells just because someone’s NAME sounds funny?

For that, they might as well put up a sign that says,
”People named Khan, Muhammed, or Abdullah not allowed without additional verification”.

And if that’s how they are going to keep their citizens safe anymore, they really shouldn’t call themselves “The Land of The Free” anymore.

Update, 24Aug:
After extensive reading, I find out that there *is* such a thing as a "No-Fly List" in the United States and Canada, detailing names - and nothing more - of passengers who are, quite simply, not allowed to fly. Over time, this list is rumored to have grown to over a million names (although this claim is officially denied) and poses significant hinderance to the common person who unfortunately happens to shares their name with someone on the list.
In such cases, the person is expected to prove that "I am not him/her" using a variety of identification methods, and apparently almost always leads to delays/missed flights for such people.

13 comments:

mydominanthemisphere said...

This is nothing dude! Did you know that Nelson Mandela has been on their no-fly list for ages? An excerpt from Wikipedia just to show how moronic it all is:

* In August 2004, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) told a Senate Judiciary Committee discussing the No Fly List that he had appeared on the list and had been repeatedly delayed at airports. He said it had taken him three weeks of appeals directly to Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to have him removed from the list. Kennedy said he was eventually told that the name "T Kennedy" was added to the list because it was once used as an alias of a suspected terrorist. There are an estimated 7,000 American men whose legal names correspond to "T Kennedy". (Senator Kennedy, whose first name is Edward and for whom "Ted" is only a nickname, would not be one of them.) Recognizing that as a U.S. Senator he was in a privileged position of being able to contact Ridge, Kennedy said of "ordinary citizens": "How are they going to be able to get to be treated fairly and not have their rights abused?"[16] Former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani pointed to this incident as an example for the necessity to "rethink aviation security" in an essay on homeland security published while he was seeking the Republican nomination for the 2008 presidential election.
* Nelson Mandela and other members of the African National Party are on the list as of 2008, something that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called "rather embarrassing."
* Walter F. Murphy, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton, reported that the following exchange took place at Newark on 1 March 2007, where he was denied a boarding pass "because I [Professor Murphy] was on the Terrorist Watch list." The airline employee asked, "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." "I explained," said professor Murphy, "that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution." To which the airline employee responded, "That'll do it."[21]

Just look up 'no fly list' on Wikipedia!

Dhanya said...

Sad right? I think in SRK's case it's pure harrassment. Two hours without actually recognizing who he is? Isn't U.S swarmed with Indians?

Like you said, can't imagine what would have happened if it was just another Muslim guy (who isn't necessarily famous) taking a trip. Brrr!

A New Beginning said...

Its not just a khan..it can be anyone With an M factor. It indeed is a sorry state of affairs.. I just hope common people do not have to face such incidences...coz in their case they wont be famous enough to be saved and would be lost with time..

Mohammed Musthafa said...

I guess the number of people Uncle Sam detains is growing...as far as I've glanced from the papers, Mammooty (A South Indian movie star), and A.P.J Abdul Kalam were both detained...

sunil said...

I dont think SRK or you sir, have enough evidence to link his detention to the religion and race.Why should any country make exception just because we the Indians and Pakis are too willing to make exumptions for fair skin does not mean that it should be that way.

I am sorry , but I dont agree to your theory.

issam said...

Indeed a sorry state of affair brother :(
'Land of the free' is becoming the land for chaining. Hope Mr Obama can continue the good gesture he showed at the cairo university and take things forward in a logical way.
To remove prejudice is so really hard at times.

Juggler said...

It's just paranoia beyond logic...

Shimmer said...

you havnt written for quite a while :O

are you.... err, how to say.. umm, are you busy? :P

-=A.R.N.=- said...

@Firas
Thx for the details dude...I had no idea such a stupid list existed.
So in a way, I *am* right that they kinda just program those things to stop certain names.
Pathetic system.

@Dhanya
Yeah, that was what I'm getting at.
Personally I don't really care much for SRK and was never a big fan, but this is about the others with the same problem

-=A.R.N.=- said...

@A New Beginning
"M factor" is right.
The war against "all things not american" now reaches a new high.


@Musthafa
What I hate about them is the sheer arrogance and contempt they show towards anyone non-American.

-=A.R.N.=- said...

@sunil
Hey there, and welcome to The Square Circle!
Hmm, you are entitled to your opinion and it is a pausible factor that this might have been nothing more than a publicity stunt from SRK.

That, is something we will never know.
But the fact remains that the US, under the pretext of "security" continues to humiliate and overpower anyone in any way they seem fit.

This is perhaps just one example of that.

-=A.R.N.=- said...

@Issam
I think "Land of the Free" is the joke of the century.
:D

@Juggler
Thx!
And welcome to The Square Circle!

@Shimmer
Thx for the concern!
Not really busy.
Actually I had a lousy week at work :P

AMIT said...

I think it was just an stunt for new movie of him.

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