My Name Is Khan and I'm Not a Terrorist

UPDATE: Shiv Sena, a political organization with waning popularity, has been actively campaigning against this film.  Given the recent history of Shiv Sena, one can only assume that this movie has been targeted because the lead actor, Shah Rukh Khan is Muslim and he is portraying a Muslim who has suffered discrimination.  Today, there has been a noticeable increase in security in Mumbai, but no plans to cancel screenings.  On the contrary, it seems as though this controversy has caused an upsurge in excitement over the movie.

A blog about human rights is not normally a place to read about upcoming movies, but you all should have a look at the Bollywood movie “My Name Is Khan” scheduled for release tonight (2/12/2010).  The movie is about a Muslim man (played by mega Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan) who grew up in a Muslim neighborhood (but secular family) in Bombay (now known as Mumbai), immigrates to America and falls in love with the person who becomes his wife (played by another mega Bollywood superstar Kajol). Oh, here’s the trailer:

So the wrinkle is that Shah Rukh Khan’s character has Asperger’s Syndrome (a mild form of autism) and so has trouble fitting in.  Despite that, things were going really swimmingly until 9/11 results in he and his family being targeted repeatedly because of their Muslim faith.  There is discrimination and racial profiling complicated by Khan’s Asperger’s Syndrome.  The seminal moment comes when Khan is in secondary screening at the airport and he says “My name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist.”

Of course, this being a Bollywood movie, there will still be some uniquely Bollywood touches like Khan somehow ending up in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and the over the top romantic element.  But, unfortunately, there are no song and dance routines which often substitutes for quality acting in many of Bollywood’s output.  Despite that, those interested in how foreigners view the United States after 9/11 albeit in a rather un-nuanced way, cannot go wrong with this movie.  It also shows quite graphically how it feels to be discriminated against in your adopted country.

Playing Al Qaeda's Game

Speaking during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Fort Hood shootings last Thursday Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) announced,  “I for one, I know it’s not politically correct to say it, but I believe in racial and ethnic profiling.”

Sen. Inhofe went on to explain his reasoning:

“When you hear that not all middle easterners and Muslims between the ages of 20 and 35 are terrorists but that all terrorists are Muslims or middle easterners between 20 and 35 that is by and large true.”

In his statement, which you can view in full below, Sen. Inhofe did acknowledge that America had experienced acts of terrorism originating from other sources, referencing the Oklahoma City bombing carried out by the right-wing extremist Timothy McVeigh which killed 168 people. However, he dismissed this threat as a marginal one apparently requiring no governmental response.

Inhofe: I believe in racial profiling

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center US law enforcement officials foiled over 60 domestic terrorism plots between 1995 and 2005. These include plans to bomb or burn government buildings, banks, refineries, clinics, places of worship, memorials, bridges, and to assassinate government officials and civil rights activists. Fatal attacks include the 1995 derailing of an Amtrak passenger train and the 2009 shooting rampage at the Holocaust Memorial Museum.