Zayn Malik underwent exhaustive security checks when he first travelled to the U.S. with One Direction.
The 24-year-old singer is of British and Pakistani origin and, along with his three sisters, was raised in the Islamic faith by his father Yaser and mother Tricia in Bradford, England.
In an interview with the London Evening Standard newspaper, the singer, who left the British boy band in March 2015 to go solo, revealed travelling to the U.S. was not as straightforward for him as it was for the other members of the band. Zayn, who is no longer a practising Muslim, was subject to intense security checks and “further processing”, allegedly because of his name and ethnicity.
“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 explained. “Then when I landed, it was like a movie. 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.”
But while he may have been inconvenienced, Zayn said he understood the need for such stringent checks.
“I understand the level of caution that needs to be taken, especially now, in the light of certain events at home,” he conceded. “I don’t think there’s any benefit to getting angry – it’s something that comes with the climate.”
However, the Pillow Talk singer, who included an Urdu song on his solo album Mind of Mine, admitted he struggled to understand the reasons driving the radicalisation of some second-and third-generation British Muslims.
“I don’t know how to figure out the psychology of why people do it. And I don’t know the remedy for it,” he sighed. “I just wish people had more love and care and compassion for other human beings.”