Shahrukh Khan, Bollywood Star, Sparks Anger With Cricket Comments

Shahrukh Khan, one of Bollywood's biggest stars, is facing the possibility of riots when his new film opens because of comments he has made about Muslims in India.

The star himself is well known for both his Muslim heritage and his repeated pleas for compromise and consideration between the Muslims and Hindus. Khan said last week that he was sad no new Pakistani cricket players had been brought into the Indian Premier League (IPL), despite Pakistan's position as the top cricket team in the world. Khan is himself a co-owner of the IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders.

"Pakistan is a great neighbor to have. We are great neighbors. They are good neighbors. Let us love each other," he said in relation to the cricket transfers.

In response to Khan's comments, Shiv Sena, an anti-Pakistan extremist group, has threatened to attack cinemas that screen Khan's latest film, My Name Is Khan, unless he retracts his remarks. "Shah Rukh should go to Pakistan if he wants to speak in favor of Pakistani players," said Shiv Sena leader Anil Parab, a demonstrator Khan's Mumbai residence.

Cinema owners and government officials have begun bracing themselves for Shiv Sena's protests. The group ransacked cinemas in 1998 for showing the movie Fire, which included lesbian themes. Some cinema's have already removed posters for the film.

However Khan has remained unrepentant. "The question of apologizing does not arise at all," he said. "I have done nothing wrong in saying what I said about Pakistani players and I said that as an Indian."