Former One Direction star Zayn Malik didn’t always breeze through airport security with the rest of his boyband mates.
As the 24-year-old has revealed in an interview with the Evening Standard, he was repeatedly taken for “further processing” while the rest of the band were allowed to continue on.
Zayn's father Yaser was born in Pakistan, and his mum Tricia converted to Islam after they were married. During his 1D days the singer refused to discuss his Muslim background, but he opened up to the publication about his experiences being the only “ethnic” member of the band.
“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 told Evening Standard.
“Then when I landed, it was like a movie. They kept me there for three hours, questioning me about all kinds of crazy stuff,” he added. “I was 17, my first time in America, jet-lagged off the plane, confused. The same thing happened the next time too.”
He doesn’t hold it against the US for having such high security levels, and tells the magazine that he understands why he was targeted.
“I understand the level of caution that needs to be taken, especially now, in the light of certain events at home,” Zayn said. “I don’t think there’s any benefit to getting angry - it’s something that comes with the climate.”
The star adds that he’s now happy to talk about Islam, which he was raised in but isn’t “currently practising”.
“I take a great sense of pride - and responsibility - in knowing that I am the first of my kind, from my background…I was raised in the Islamic faith, so it will always be with me, and I identify a lot with the culture. But I’m just me. I don’t want to be defined by my religion or my cultural background.”
The usually-reserved star, who did the Evening Standard interview to promote his new capsule collection Zayn x Versus for Versus Versace, even touched on recent terrorist attacks in his homeland.
“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 told the magazine.
“I just wish people had more love and care and compassion for other human beings.”