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Published on March 6th, 2017 | by Ahmar Khan

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CNN under fire for depicting Hindus as cannibals

One of the main Hindu voices in the United States corridors of power billionaire businessman Shalabh Kumar, who is president of the Republican Hindu Council, Sunday strongly condemned the CNN for negative portrayal of Hindus.

Like Kumar, the Hindu Mahasabha of America  (HMA) has condemned the CNN for depicting Hinduism in a very negative manner in the first episode of its new series called the “Believer with Reza Aslan”, while the The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has expressed serious concerns over the documentary.

The show focussed on a minuscule group of Hindu mystics called Aghoris that forms 0.005 of the overall Hindu population of one billion plus and are based in Varanasi, hometown of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I condemn @rezaaslan, CNN for airing Believer with fiction. Disgusting attack on Hindus for supporting @POTUS @stephenkbannon @newtgingrich,” Kumar tweeted.

Kumar said, “CNN, Clinton News Network has no respect for Hindus. All Hindus worldwide should boycott CNN. @stevenmnuchin1 @stephenkbannon @jaredkushner”

The producer Reza Aslan identifies himself as Muslim from the mystical and peaceful sect of Sufis.

The HMA described the first episode out-of-context exotica on Hinduism by a so-called scholar of religions. “The show characterizes Hinduism as cannibalistic, which is a bizarre way of looking at the third largest religious community in the world,” it said.

The Republican Hindu Council put its weight behind the HMA online petition against the show.

“Hinduism gives complete freedom to its practitioners to pursue spiritual knowledge in a way that suits them. There is no religious authority that enforces any kind of law, any commandment, any fatwa…. There is no system of shepherds, popes or mullah to tend the flock.”

The HMA feared by the negative portrayal of Hinduism, Aslan is setting the stage for the most ghastly genocide of Hindus in America paralleled only by genocide of Native Americans, of Jews in Nazi Germany and Africans in Namibia, and so many others.

“The genocide against Native Americans were committed precisely because they were seen as “uncivilized” by the Europeans. Your showman is going to accomplish the same Sunday night with CNN as a platform.

The HMA said when Hindu kids go to school in America, they will be bullied by their classmates as cannibals! Some may even commit suicide.

“A few deranged of the society will get their guns and open fire in Hindu temples to eliminate the ‘cannibals’ of the society. And in all these acts you as a news organization will share the responsibility.”

The HAF said the Sunday episode of Aslan focused on the Aghori sect in Varanasi, India. “The deeply mystical — sometimes revolting — practices of Aghoris, a sect comprising the smallest minority of Hindu sampradayas (spiritual traditions), has long invited the spotlight of foreign journalists. And too often, that spotlight has not been kind.”

Religious literacy in the United States about Hinduism, as every Hindu American knows, is woefully inadequate, the HAF said. “When the knowledge deficit is so stark, and minority communities are facing a rise in hate incidents across the US— a Hindu American was killed and Sikh American was shot in likely hate crimes in the past week — why would Aslan and CNN sensationalize the Aghoris as a primetime introduction to the faith of a billion Hindus, most of whom have never seen or met an Aghori?,” the HAF asked.

And the initial promotional materials and trailers on CNN include the titillating, with a banner headline “CANNIBALS” to a revolting scene of a Sadhu flinging urine. “There is the stereotyped image of a naked Aghori sadhu, drinking alcohol from a human skull, literally eating what is ostensibly human flesh, taking Reza on as his disciple, threatening to behead him if he talks any more, and then throwing his own freshly excreted urine at him, all on camera for viewers to see,” the HAF said.

The HAF recalled in 2003, the now defunct Tampa Tribune newspaper published a story on Aghoris entitled, “Voyage into Madness,” with a subheading of “Hindu cannibals.” The article, devoid of context or explanation of the spiritual underpinnings of Aghori practice, galvanized the Hindu community in Tampa, Florida to protest — many of whom were founding donors of HAF — and successfully compelled the story to be retracted.

At an audience interaction after the screening, Aslan told the audience that some of the most important work being done today to end caste discrimination is being done by Hindus using scripture to root their actions in Hindu teaching.

HAF is extremely concerned that while they are not Aslan’s intentions, erroneous depictions, misleading imagery, and provocative first half of the program could exacerbate Hinduphobia in the face of widespread religious illiteracy about Hinduism.

Feminist writer Asra Q. Nomani, who defends the idea that Muslim women may be returned their vaginal rights, tweeted, “Good thing Reza Aslan said nobody watches CNN. He’d be 1st to attack anyone who mocked Islam like he is doing with Hinduism. Not a #believer

Nomani produced a tweet of Aslan from four years ago. Aslan seemed miffed at CNN for calling the Boston bombing a terrorist  attack.

President Donald J. Trump calls the CNN fake media for its false reporting.

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Ahmar Khan

Ahmar Khan



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