Being an internationally famous pop star who’s the idol of millions does not make you immune to racial profiling, which is something that former One Direction star Zayn Malik learned the hard way.
In an interview with Britain’s Evening Standard, Malik — who was raised as a Muslim — reveals that he was singled out when he and his fellow One Direction band mates flew to America for the first time. As the only non-white member of the group, Malik was also the only one to be detained — for three hours!
“The first time I came to America, I had three security checks before I got on the plane; first they said that I’d been randomly selected, and then they said it was something to do with my name, it was flagging something on their system,” he reveals.
“Then when I landed, it was like a movie,” he added. “They kept me there for three hours, questioning me about all kinds of crazy stuff. I was 17, my first time in America, jet-lagged off the plane, confused. The same thing happened the next time too.”
Although he admits he’s not a practicing Muslim, he holds Islam close to his heart. “I’m not currently practicing but I was raised in the Islamic faith, so it will always be with me, and I identify a lot with the culture,” he explains. “But I’m just me. I don’t want to be defined by my religion or my cultural background.”