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Zayn Malik was interrogated by US airport security

The Muslim-raised singer speaks about a time when he was singled out from his 1D bandmates for extra checks

Zayn Malik – musician and ex-1D megastar, former Dazed cover starGigi Hadid’s boy and Versus collaborator – has revealed that he was subject to rigorous checks by US airport security when the band first toured America. Then 17 years old, the musician revealed that he had to undergo three security checks before he even got on the plane, as he was told that his name was “flagging something on their system”.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, he described how the band touched down in the States, where the interrogation continued. He was questioned for three hours while his bandmates experienced no such scrutiny. “I was 17, my first time in America, jet-lagged off the plane, confused,” said Malik. “The same thing happened the next time too.”

Bradford-born Malik was raised as a Muslim by his British-Pakistani father, Yaser, and mum Tricia (of British-Irish descent), who converted to Islam when she married. “I’m not currently practising but I was raised in the Islamic faith, so it will always be with me, and I identify a lot with the culture,” Malik explained. “But I’m just me; I don’t want to be defined by my religion or my cultural background.”

With frustration, the singer highlighted that these sort of experiences are familiar for many young British Muslims. “I don’t think there’s any benefit to getting angry; it’s something that comes with the climate,” he said. “I understand why they’ve got to do it.” 

On radicalisation, he said: “I don’t know how to figure out the psychology of why people do it and I don’t know the remedy for it. I just wish people had more love and care and compassion for other human beings.”

In a previous interview with Dazed, Malik spoke about the influence of his upbringing on guiding his work, including a love of qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan inherited from his dad. “I can’t understand what Arabic means, but I can read it,” he said. “I was taught to read it because I read the Islamic books and they’re in Arabic, but I couldn’t understand what I was saying. I have always liked poetry. I have always liked language and the way you can say a certain thing in a certain way and it can be perceived so differently by whoever is listening, because of whatever time they are at in their life. That is something that has always fascinated me and I’ve always enjoyed writing. English was always my strong subject.”

Check Malik’s latest creative venture, a Versus Versace collaboration with Donatella Versace that features Bella Hadid, here