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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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Indian Independence day celebrated amidst Kashmir controversy

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Indian Independence Day celebrated amidst Kashmir controversy

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — Indians around the world are marking the 72nd anniversary of India’s freedom from British rule with a series of ceremonies, the largest of which took place in New Delhi at a celebration featuring Indian Prime Minister Modi. Over the course of 90 minutes, Mr. Modi spoke about his government’s accomplishments during his term and the pressing matter that is of interest globally, Kashmir. Watch his full remarks in primetime tonight on Diya TV. Coverage begins at 6 pm.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services made their controversial public charge rule official. It will deny green cards to immigrants who have received federal aid and benefits, impacting one million immigrants annually who have received public aid. Aging parents are also likely to be disqualified.

And the Philadelphia community is in mourning over the loss of three members of the Khurana family, who died when their small aircraft crashed shortly after take-off on a flight heading for Columbus, Ohio. The victims, 60 year old Jasvir Khurana and his wife, 54 year old Divya, were respected physician-researchers teaching at Temple and Drexel respectively. Their 19 year old daughter, Kiran, graduated from high school last year. The Khuranas were on their way to visit their other daughter in California. The FAA and NTSB ruled the crash was an accident.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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EXCLUSIVE: Fremont PD and FOG confirm Independence Day Parade cancelled over security, permitting

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FREMONT, Calif. (Diya TV) — Fremont Police Department and FOG organizers confirm the annual Indian Independence Day parade, scheduled for this Sunday, is cancelled due to permitting and security concerns. FOG will still take place this weekend, minus the parade. Here’s our initial report on FOG security from earlier this week.

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Trump takes aim at India and China over tariffs

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Trump takes aim at India and China over Tariffs

MONACA, Penn. (Diya TV) — President Trump levied more criticism at India and China at a Pennsylvania rally, saying the two were no longer developing nations and were taking advantage of that status given by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Trump added India and China had grown and the US will not let that continue. Trump’s latest comments come as Indian trade minister Piyush Goyal is set to visit Washington next month.

Meanwhile, controlling the narrative on Kashmir has become job one for both India and Pakistan. Indian Ambassador Harsh Shringla said to FOX News that President Trump’s offer to mediate between India and Pakistan is not on the table, as the U.S. State Department and bilateral agreements between the rivals made clear. Shringla added integrating Indian-administered Kashmir with the rest of the nation was necessary to ensure the region will prosper and stay secure.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had a more stark assessment to his Parliament, saying he wants to internationalize the dispute and aim to be the regions voice, adding Pakistan will ‘teach India a lesson’ should they attack Pakistani-administered Kashmir.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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