Hindu Community of Chicago protests against CNN’s documentary on Aghoris

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CHICAGO: Some 600 people gathered outside the offices of CNN in downtown Chicago here to protest against a documentary on Aghoris in India by anchor Reza Aslan.

“The documentary aired by CNN portrayed Hinduism in a negative light. This is now what Hinduism is all about,” said a protest letter submitted to CNN by Hindu Community of Chicago (HCC), who organized the protest.

HCC alleged that the CNN documentary on Hinduism produced by Aslan showed practices of five Aghoris, and didn’t portray Hinduism in its true light.

Some of the placards by protesters said: “Shame on CNN # Hindu lives matter’,”CNN stop Denigrating One Billion Hindus”,”CNN  Reporter Reza Aslan Racist”,”CNN, Stop Defaming Hinduism”,”CNN, stop Racism and Hatred”,”CNN, “Believer” Reckless and Racist”,”We are Peace Loving Hindu-Indian-Americans”.
“This was his picture of Hinduism projected to the world on CNN,” said the protest letter. “The grotesque practices of five individuals have nothing to do with Hinduism, they are not part of any Hindu scriptures or Hindu teachings.”

Several other Indian American groups organized protests outside the offices of CNN in New York, Washington, Houston, Atlanta, San Francisco and Los Angeles, for the controversial documentary, part of a series called ‘Believer’.

Vamsee Juluri, an Indian American professor of Media studies at the University of San Francisco, had earlier called Aslan’s show, “reckless, racist and dangerously anti-immigrant”.

Pointing out several inaccuracies, Juluri added: “It is one saddening reality that despite having had immigrants in America for so many decades now, a major news channel like CNN still cannot do better than the old Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom sort of story when it comes to India”.

“Far from wanting to experience any spirituality within Hinduism, Reza Aslan seems to have gone to India only to confirm his Orientalist biases,” said Chandrashekar Wagh from the Coalition Against Hinduphobia, reported PTI.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Aslan said his documentary is not about Hinduism, but about Aghori, a mystical Hindu sect known for extreme rituals, including cannibalism and drinking their urine from skulls.

(This post was updated and revised on March 27, 2017)

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