Date: March 4, 2017
The following statement was issued by Ajay Shah, Convener, American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD)
CNN’s “Believer with Reza Aslam” Show Promotes Xenophobia and Hinduphobia
The following statement was issue by Ajay Shah, Convener, American Hindus Against Defamation.
Within days of seemingly racially motivated shooting of two Hindu engineers in Kansas, CNN is unleashing a program that is certain to promote xenophobia, specifically, Hinduphobia.
The six-part CNN series, “Believer with Reza Aslan,” purports to demystify some of the world religions, however, from the promotional material and review articles about the show, it is clear that the show paints Hindu dharma (spiritual, religion and cultural tradition) by accentuating a lesser understood tiny sect of a faith that count seventy ascetics among a one and a quarter billion adherents, whose mainstream practices and philosophical underpinnings have flourished for thousands of years.
Ms. Aslan attributes the quest for societal-equality in Indian society to Aghori influence, ignoring the fact that underpinning of this equality is inherent in the most ancient of Hindu scriptures, including Rig Veda, the earliest scripture of Hindu dharma. As most non-practicing Hindus, Mr. Aslan has not gained deeper understanding of difference between varna (caste label that is acquired based on profession and is not based on birth) and jaati (family association that traditionally passed through inheritance).
A self-professed Muslim, Mr. Aslan has an interesting way to denigrate other religions. He promotes moderate Islamic Sufi tradition as mainstream in the media, while ignoring the outrages inflicted by more prominent Wahabi ideology. On the other hand, Mr. Aslan generalizes fringe elements of Hindu faith, while ignoring the peaceful, non-violent, all accepting and universal ideals of Hindu dharma.
AHAD believes that this crass representation of Hindu faith will do little to promote interfaith understanding. It will promote ignorance about Hindu traditions and promote ridicule of Hindu children in the schools. For example, a teacher has requested CNN on Facebook if the Hindu related episode will be available for teaching ancient Indian history to her sixth grade class! We believe that more schools will use these half-baked, un-researched and inappropriate content to portray Hindu traditions as mainstream and this will have wider Hinduphobic societal impact than CNN can imagine.
We welcome Mr. Aslam to meet with practitioners of mainstream Hindu faiths. Learn about Hindu faith from our saints, priests and ascetics, and experience the practice of Hindu traditions from its practitioners and not merely from the libraries of elite universities or known Hindu haters.
As a major global media outlet, CNN must hold itself to higher standards. To ensure that the educational ideals of this series are met, AHAD demands that Hindu related episodes in the series be reviewed by practicing Hindu experts before they are aired. AHAD will be glad to provide such experts. After the Hindu related episodes are aired, Hindu scholars must be invited to discuss the content of the show on air, and provide a deeper Hindu perspective.
About American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD)
American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD) is the first and the most prominent Hindu organization in USA. A project of World Hindu Council of America (VHPA), AHAD has been actively monitoring media and products to ensure accurate representation of Hindu dharma, culture, images and icons.
For further information, please contact:
Convener, American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD)
Phone: (858) 866-9661
About World Hindu Council of America (VHPA)
World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) is the most prominent organization of Hindus in USA. Founded in 1970, it has branches across the country. For more information, please contact:
World Hindu Council of America (VHPA)
P.O. Box 600
460 Boston Rd, Billerica, MA 01821