In a strange and bizarre turn of events,,the 'My Name Is Khan' superstar's special column written for the Outlook Turning Points Magazine (Special Agenda 2013) in association with The New York Times newspaper, has created a sorts of national uproar in India and a cross border war of words between Indian and Pakistani politicians.
For the special edition of the Outlook Magazine, Shah Rukh Khan (aka SRK) was invited to write an opinion column on what it means to be a Muslim in India and globally post 9/11. It is titled:
"Being a Khan: What it means to be a Muslim in the post-9/11 world. And what India means for the world as a Muslim power."
"I sometimes become the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India. There have been occasions when I have been accused of bearing allegiance to our neighbouring nation rather than my own country - this even though I am an Indian, whose father fought for the freedom of India. Rallies have been held where leaders have exhorted me to leave and return to what they refer to as my original homeland.
I gave my son and daughter names that could pass for generic (pan-India and pan-religious) ones - Aryan and Suhana. The Khan has been bequeathed by me so they can't really escape it. I pronounce it with my epiglottis when asked by Muslims and throw the Aryan as evidence of their race when non-Muslims enquire. I imagine this will prevent my offspring from receiving unwarranted eviction orders or random fatwas in the future.
I became so sick of being mistaken for some crazed terrorist who co-incidentally carries the same name as mine that I made a film subtly titled My Name Is Khan (and I am not a terrorist) to prove a point. Ironically, I was interrogated at the airport for hours about my last name when I was going to promote the film in America for the first time."
SRK further writes:
"My first learning of Islam from my father was to respect women and children and to uphold the dignity of every human being. I learnt that the property and decency of others, their points of view, their beliefs, their philosophies and their religions were due as much respect as my own and ought to be accepted with an open mind. I learnt to believe in the power and benevolence of Allah, and to be gentle and kind to my fellow human beings, to give of myself to those less privileged than me and to live a life full of happiness, joy, laughter and fun without impinging on anybody else's freedom to live the same way.
The living of my life has enabled me to be deeply touched by the love of millions of Indians.
Beneath the guise of my superstardom, I am an ordinary man. My Islamic stock does not conflict with that of my Hindu wife's. The only disagreement I have with Gauri concerns the colour of the walls in our living room and not about the locations of the walls demarcating temples from mosques in India."
Despite SRK firmly reaffirming his allegiance to and patriotism and love for his country India in his column, a Pakistani politician called Hafiz Saeed strangely commented that SRK "can move to Pakistan if he does not feel safe in India."
Then came the odd comments of Pakistan's interior minister Rehman Malik, who said that "India should provide security to SRK."
These two comments have created an uproar in India. Articles have been written in some Indian media outlets that strangely bash SRK for the words of Pakistani politicians. Social networking sites are abuzz with the matter, with some people even more strangely asking SRK to comment/apologize for his column and for what the Pakistani politicians have said.
SRK's fans and friends have also come out in droves from India and around the world on social networking sites, supporting SRK and condemning the "defamatory" articles by some Indian media outlets and comments by those who hate SRK. SRK has been trending on Twitter nonstop for more than 24 hours now. A source close to SRK was quoted as saying that SRK is very upset at the comments of the Pakistani politicians.
Indian politicians have also joined in, including India's home minister:
"We are quite capable of looking after security of our own citizens...let him (Malik) worry about security of his own." -RK Singh, India's home minister.
"Rehman Malik's remark is condemnable and hilarious when you consider that everyday Pakistanis are killing each other. Muslims in India are totally secure. We don't need any compassion or support from Pakistan." -Maulana Khalid Rasheed
"SRK is a nationalist and a national icon, he should give a befitting reply to Pakistan." -Rajiv Pratap Rudy, BJP
"It's better if Malik does not meddle in our affairs. SRK should be given security or not is to be decided by us not Pakistan." -Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena
"According to our constitution, all are equal. As for Malik, he should think about securing minorities in Pakistan first." -Manish Tiwari
In another recent event, a journalist asked SRK about the killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistani forces during a press conference. SRK answered by strongly condemning the killings, but Aaj Tak news channel misrepresented his statement and gave the wrong impression that SRK was supporting Pakistan. That also caused an uproar in social media, with hundreds of thousands of SRK fans bombarding Aaj Tak with demands for a public apology. Aaj Tak finally gave in and issued an apology to SRK and his fans for misrepresenting his statement.
It looks like what SRK wrote in the Outlook magazine was proved right by the strange turn of events!