Kal Penn, the actor best known for his roles in the medical TV show House and the Harold and Kumar film series, has so far raised over $800,000 (Dh2.9 million) for Syrian refugees in response to a racist tweet he received.
Penn set up a fundraising page on Crowdrise to raise money for International Rescue Committee, a global humanitarian and relief charity that, among other activities, has launched an emergency appeal to help refugees in the US. Penn’s page is entitled Donating to Syrian Refugees in the Name of the Dude Who Said I Don’t Belong in America, and the actor has reproduced a tweet containing the text “... because you don’t belong in this country you [expletive] joke”.
Penn said he set the page up “as an uplifting way to raise $2,500”, but shortly after it went live on January 28 funds began pouring in, and more than 20,000 people have now donated. Penn added that his aim was to “continue to show the world that the American people care very much for everybody, especially refugees, contrary to what our current administration is trying to do in our names. What a beautiful way to resist and show some love.”
Penn, whose real name is Kalpen Suresh Modi, was born and raised in New Jersey to immigrant parents from India, before studying film and sociology at UCLA. Alongside his acting career, Penn was a vocal supporter of Barack Obama, accepting a position of associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement in 2009.