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Why Indian Americans continue to protest against CNN over Reza Aslan’s show?

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Protestors gather outside CNN headquarters in Atlanta against Reza Aslan's show Believer
Protestors gather to voice their concern regarding Reza Aslan's show Believers (Courtesy: Facebook)

Protestors gather to voice their concern regarding Reza Aslan’s show Believers (Courtesy: Facebook)

CHICAGO (Diya TV) — The show aired March 5th, yet Several Indian-Americans have continued to protest and raise their concerns over CNN’s show Believer hosted by religion scholar Reza Aslan. And if you are wondering why is this still a matter of contention, the issue many Indian Americans say is about responsibility.

Earlier this weekend, several Indian Americans descended upon CNN’s Chicago headquarters over the weekend to protest the network’s new series, Believer, which they believe is a negative introduction to Hinduism. The show focused on a fringe sect of Hinduism called the ‘Aghoris’ and while many understand and agree the ‘Aghoris’  do not represent the mainstream Hindu community, many believe the show has portrayed Hinduism in a bad light.

The initial outrage sparked comments from lawmakers and prominent Hindu Americans on both the Democratic and Republican sides.

The Hindu American Foundation released a statement showing deep concerns over the timing and the insensitivity on part of the network.

“Religious literacy in the United States about Hinduism, as every Hindu American knows, is woefully inadequate. The Pew Religious Knowledge Survey of 2013 found that only 36% of Americans could answer a single question about Hinduism: Whether Shiva and Vishnu were deities associated with Hinduism. 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?” – Samir Kalra, HAF 

Supporters showed up in the hundreds for the event, where circulated letters said CNN were responsible for showcasing the grotesque and chilling traditions of one group of people, not the Hindu religion. “The grotesque practices of five individuals have nothing to do with Hinduism, they are not part of any Hindu scriptures or Hindu teachings,” said Bharat Barai, a resident of Chicago.

Hindu-American groups from across the country have held protests against the network since the March 5 airing of the episode. Events have since been held in New York, Houston, Atlanta, San Francisco and the nation’s capital. This weekend’s event had the largest turnout of any of the previous.

Vamsee Juluri, an Indian-American professor of media studies at the University of San Francisco wrote a blog on Huffington Post calling out CNN

“It is unbelievably callous and reckless of CNN to be pushing sensational and grotesque images of bearded brown men and their morbid and deathly religion at a time when the United States is living through a period of unprecedented concern and fear,” Juluri wrote.

In a statement, USINPAC Chairman Sanjay Puri said, “In a charged environment a show like this can create a perception about Indian Americans which could make them more vulnerable to further attacks,”

To the critics Aslan responded on Twitter

And the Twittersphere shot back

Aslan has maintained he wanted to make a show that would entertain, the intention behind “Believer” was to spread awareness and not to sensationalize.

“Our hope is to introduce people to world views and faith communities that may seem a little strange and foreign and even frightening,” he said in an interview with HuffPost. “But after watching me go through the experience of becoming part of these communities they may seem more relatable.”

However many Hindu question how showcasing the Hindu sect of ‘Aghori’ in a manner ‘Believer’ did, is making Hindus or ‘Aghori’ more relatable?

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BREAKING: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

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BREAKING: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87 | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died at 87. She was the oldest sitting member of the court. Justice Ginsburg was only the second woman named to the Supreme Court. A cultural and feminist icon, Ginsburg was appointed to the Court by President Bill Clinton, and her passing will set off a showdown in the coming weeks before the November election. In a message left this week as her health waned, Ginsburg said “my most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shortly after Ginsburg’s death was announced said the Senate will conduct a vote to replace her and President Trump is expected to put forth a nominee to fill the seat in the coming days.

An Indian American doctor filed a federal lawsuit against the Aurora, Colorado police department after one of their police officers pointed a gun at him on his own property while he was trying to park his car. The incident was captured on video. The officer, Justin Henderson, has been suspended for 40 hours without pay and will be required to attend de-escalation training. 45 year old Dr. Paramjit Parmar, who is known in Aurora for his aid to refugees, believes race affected how he was treated and said Henderson’s punishment is “terribly inadequate.”

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Recall efforts against Kshama Sawant moves forward

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Recall efforts against Kshama Sawant moves forward | Diya TV News

SEATTLE (Diya TV) — The recall effort against Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant can move forward after a ruling by a King County judge. Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers said four of the six accusations against Sawant are legitimate. They include misuse of city resources, misuse of her position by letting protesters into City Hall, relinquishing her duties of office to an outside political organization and leading a protest to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s house despite her address being protected due to threats from her time as a U.S. Attorney. 

Now, the group of residents leading the recall must get about 11,000 valid signatures before the recall gets on the ballot. Sawant in response said this battle is just the latest attempt by corporate interests and Mayor Durkan to derail her efforts to reform the city and announced she will lead a grassroots campaign to fight the charges.

Meanwhile, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is facing heat as well from U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who suggested prosecutors consider filing charges against her over the mass protests this summer that led some protesters to establish a police-free zone in downtown Seattle. In a tweet, former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara offered his help to Durkan pro-bono.

Indian Prime Minister Modi turned 70 years old and received birthday wishes from around the globe, including from President Trump, who called Modi “a great leader and loyal friend.”

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Indiaspora & AAPI data survey Indian American voters

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Indiaspora & AAPI data survey Indian American voters| Diya TV News

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — At a virtual event featuring the former CEO of the Democratic National Committee, Seema Nanda, Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Republican Ohio State Representative Niraj Antani, non-profit Indiaspora teamed up with AAPI Data to reveal the growing political power of the Indian American diaspora. The joint report says 66% of Indian Americans currently favor Vice President Biden, and 28% favor President Trump. The study shows an enormous rise in political engagement from the community. There are 1.8 million Indian Americans in the U.S. who are eligible voters and both sides of the aisle recognize the need to further engage Indian Americans, who AAPI Data notes is now the largest part of the Asian American community, surpassing Chinese Americans.

Eric Trump, President Trump’s son, took part in an Indian Voices for Trump event in suburban Atlanta. It was an indoor rally with appropriate social distancing measures in place. Trump was on hand to win support from the community in a vital state that will be tightly contested this fall. Georgia, like North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan and Texas are considered in play and have growing Indian American populations.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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