Several Indian Americans gathered at the CNN office in Chicago, United States, on Sunday to protest against a documentary telecast by the channel. They alleged that it portrayed Hinduism in bad light. “The documentary aired by CNN portrayed Hinduism in negative light. This is not what Hinduism is all about,” one of the protesters, Bharat Barai, told PTI.
The protesters also distributed a protest letter, in which they argued that what the documentary showed was actually practices by five “Aghori babas”, saints who partake in post-mortem rituals. “This was his picture of Hinduism projected to the world on CNN,” read the letter.
The documentary, produced by special reporter Reza Aslan, was aired on March 5. It is a part of CNN’s mini-series Believer, which is based on fringe groups and fascinating religious sects around the world.
Another protester, Vamsee Juluri, said the documentary was “racist and dangerously anti-immigrant”. The professor of media studies at the University of San Francisco said the film was filled with inaccuracies and misunderstandings. “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,” he added.
Apart from Chicago, Hindu American groups held several protests in New York, Washington, Houston, Atlanta, San Francisco and Los Angeles, but the silent agitation in Chicago was the biggest till date.
Aslan, however, had clarified that the documentary was based on the Aghori sect. In a Facebook post, he wrote, “Aghor are not representative of Hinduism but are, instead, an extreme Hindu sect that rejects the fundamental Hindu distinction between purity and pollution.”