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Bollywood star criticises 'parallel universe' US

By AFP

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan criticised the US for believing it lived in a "parallel universe" in comments broadcast Monday following a row with immigration officials at a New York airport.

Khan has said he was singled out for questioning by US immigration officials due to his Muslim name -- sparking outrage among his millions of Indian fans, as well as senior politicians and the Indian press.

"America needs to understand one small thing... that there are about 190-195 smaller countries and that makes the whole world," Khan told Indian television channel CNN-IBN from Houston in comments broadcast on Monday.

"It's not an isolated, parallel universe existence for this country. There is a whole world which makes all the good and bad that is happening," said the actor, who is one of the biggest names in Bollywood.

"So if we are scared of violence and terrorism, all of us are responsible for it. It's not that the world is and America is not."

Khan said he understood US security concerns after the September 11, 2001 attacks and that he loved the country, but his comments fanned the flames of a bitter dispute over his treatment at Newark Liberty International Airport.

The Indian civil aviation minister vowed to take the matter up with the US government, while Indian newspapers slammed the discrimination allegedly inflicted on one of the Hindu-majority country's most loved actors.

US officials have said that Khan, 43, was subject only to routine procedures at the airport on Friday and was questioned for little more than an hour but the actor said he was left "angry and humiliated" by his treatment.

Some critics have also accused Khan of publicity seeking. He recently finished filming "My Name is Khan" in the United States, a movie due out next year that features the contentious subject of racial profiling.

The US embassy in New Delhi attempted to end the controversy at the weekend by describing Khan as a "global icon" who was a welcome guest in the United States.

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