Editor's note: While traveling in India, NAM editor Sandip Roy examines America's problematic treatment of South Asians and Middle Easterners, particularly Muslims, at our airports.  Shah Rukh Khan gets an international megaphone to voice his discontent.  But what happens to those who don't?

Bollywood’s biggest star was detained for over an hour, maybe two, over the weekend at Newark International Airport. He says it’s because his name is Khan. The officials say its because his baggage hadn’t arrived. They say there were following protocol. He says the protocol needs to a little more “warm and speedy.”

Shah Rukh Khan, welcome to America.

Soon after 9/11, Indian-Canadian writer Rohinton Mistry called off his Indian tour after he was stopped at almost every single airport. His full beard was apparently triggering off alarm bells in a jittery America. As he put it , he was worn out by “the 100 percent frequency of the so-called random checks at the airports.”

But Mistry is not a Bollywood mega star. No American flags were burned. The blogsphere didn’t buzz with anger. The Home Minister didn’t issue a statement accusing the Americans of overdoing it. Mistry just went back quietly to Toronto. When I interviewed him later, he was mildly annoyed that people wanted to talk more about the “airport” incident than his book.

Khan, being a star, has bounded onto the bully pulpit and seized the megaphone. He made an “arresting” spectacle in Atlantic City going on-stage in his tattered jeans (the bags still had not arrived) and apologizing to his waiting fans.

He is Mr. India – his face is the one that launches a 1000 brands. No wonder India is indignant. It’s like India Inc. was suddenly stopped by US customs. Is this a man or a mango, manhandled by lowly customs officials?

But as Deepa Iyer of SAALT points out in her blog about this storm in a tea cup “Mr. Khan’s incident might be gaining international attention because he is a celebrity, but the truth is that ordinary American citizens and immigrants here in the United States grapple with racial and religious profiling routinely at airports.”

A recent report from the Asian Law Caucus says Muslim Americans are being increasingly targeted for unwarranted house searches and questioning especially after trips abroad.

These people don’t have a billion people rooting for them around the world. They don’t have the Indian cabinet vouching for them. They don’t get the Indian consulate to intervene. What happens to them when their name pops up by mistake on a list?

They disappear. Like Maher Arar who was sent to torture in Syria as a result of mistaken intelligence while in transit at JFK Airport after a family holiday in Tunisia in 2002.

Shah Rukh Khan became an even bigger celebrity in India as the host of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. He’s used to “calling a friend” and he has some high profile friends in his cell phone (which he says he was not allowed to use). He is used to saying Lock kya jaaye (shall we lock it?). It must have been a rude shock to have some petty immigration official say it to him.

For thousands of other people whose names are Khan the consequences of a mistaken identity are far more serious, far more damaging. Shah Rukh Khan says it made him feel like he doesn’t want to come to America again. Many of the others cannot come to America again. Some of them may even be American citizens, or long time residents, who suddenly find themselves disappearing into the black hole of the state. Tashnuba Hyder, Bangladeshi-American teenager from Queens found herself packed off to Dhaka because of chat rooms she visited on the Internet and essays she had written.
And when they emerge, they can be shells of their former selves, trying to pick up the ragged edges of their lives. I don’t even know where Tashnuba Hyder is these days. Khan gets to promote his movie, incidentally also called My Name is Khan about a Muslim man in post 9/11 America!

When the super rich and the super famous trip over the machinery of homeland security and criminal justice it makes news. It can even end in a beer at the White House.

My colleague wondered if President Obama will now bring together Shah Rukh Khan and the head of TSA for another beer at the White House. Or perhaps this time it should be a cuppa chai?