SP, Muslim clerics slam Azam Khan’s frisking in US

Lucknow, April 26 (IANS) The ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) and Muslim groups in Uttar Pradesh Friday slammed reports of humiliation and extended frisking of party leader and minister Mohammad Azam Khan at Logan Airport in Boston, US.

In a statement issued by his personal assistant Muktinath Jha late Thursday, state Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Khan alleged that homeland security officials humiliated him on the pretext of frisking him and that he was targeted because he is a Muslim.

SP leader and Rajya Sabha member Naresh Agarwal said the matter was serious and the union government should immediately intervene and seek an apology from the US administration.

“The foreign minister should immediately ask authorities behind such a disgraceful act to a respected politician to unconditionally apologise,” he said, adding that the US will have to make changes in its mindset while dealing with such situations.

“When people from the US come to India, we treat them with dignity and respect and in exchange we get what we are now seeing,” Agarwal said and recalled how former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan were also treated in a similar way at airports in the US.

Ram Asrey Kushwaha, national general secretary of the SP, also slammed the US Homeland Security for “subjecting the minister to such humiliation”.

“Azam saheb had gone to the US on an invitation from Harvard Business School. This should have been respected by security agencies and they should have realized that the minister was being accompanied by the chief minister of the most populous state of India,” Kushwaha said.

Cleric Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahal said that the US, “which claimed to be the champion of civil behaviour, had shown its true colours”.

“It is unfortunate that a senior minister was subjected to such behaviour, specially since he is a Muslim, a religion so widely followed in the world,” he said.

Anwar-ul-Haq, a teacher at a madarsa, said that the government’s response was “weak and meek” and that the protest should be loud. “Though we expect nothing better from the weak government at the centre, I am hopeful that something concrete will be done to stop repetitions of such instances in the US,” he said.

Azam Khan has said he will boycott all events in the US after the incident, but added that he would deliver his lecture at the Harvard Business School Friday.

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