Television network CNN is dropping the weekly show Believer hosted by Iranian-American scholar Reza Aslan, The New York Times reported on Friday. Aslan had attacked US President Donald Trump in a series of cutting messages on Twitter after the London Bridge attack last week.
“CNN has decided to not move forward with production on the acquired series ‘Believer with Reza Aslan,’” a spokesperson for the network said in a statement. “We wish Reza and his production team all the best.”
Aslan had described the president as “an embarrassment to humankind” and compared him to a “piece of excrement” after Trump had criticised London mayor Sadiq Khan’s statements after the attack. Trump had argued that the incident justified his proposal to restrict travel to the United States by people from several Muslim-majority countries.
Aslan, in a statement on Twitter, said he was “very disappointed” by the decision taken by CNN. “In these politically charged times, the tenor of our nation’s discourse has become complicated, and I recognise that CNN needs to protect its brand as an unbiased news outlet,” Aslan wrote.
Aslan also sought to clarify his role in the matter. “I am not a journalist,” he wrote. “I am a social commentator and scholar. And so I agree with CNN that it is best that we part ways. I look forward to partnering with another platform in the future to continue to spread my message.”
Aslan’s show covered global religion and began earlier this year. In March, his show took him to Varanasi. There, the Aghori sadhus, who are known to engage in post-mortem rituals, were described as cannibals from what Aslan called the “City of the Dead”. The content of the show was criticised for being bigoted and outraged many American Hindus. American politician Tulsi Gabbard had accused CNN of using its power and influence to “increase people’s misunderstanding and fear of Hinduism”. Aslan, however, defended his show saying the documentary was not about Hinduism, but about the Aghori.