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Indian-Americans Speak Out Over CNN’s Cannibalistic Depiction Of Hindus

It’s not just because he ate human brain

Since the February 20 murder of 32-year-old Srinivas Kuchibhotla in a bar in Olathe, Kansas, Indian-Americans have feared the spread of anti-immigrant violence to their community. It happened again on March 3 when Deep Rai, a Sikh man in Seattle, was wounded by a gunshot fired by a man who screamed, “Go back to your country!” With hate crimes are on the rise in the United States, activists are criticizing a recent segment on CNN’s Spirtually Curious Believer.


In a recent Believer segment, author Reza Aslan sat down with a bizarre cannibalistic Hindu sect known as the Aghori in the holy city of Varanasi, India. During the encounter, Aslan is confronted by a man with bloody bones strapped to his head who threatens to decapitate him for “talking too much” and smears Aslan with the ashes of recently-cremated bodies. At the end of the segment, the holy man pressures Aslan into eating a piece of human brain.

Aslan’s choice to focus on a an extreme, cannibalistic sect of a religion with over one billion adherents was a major mischaracterization of Hindus during a sensitive time. This prompted the U.S.-India political action community to speak out about the CNN show. “The show characterizes Hinduism as cannibalistic, which is a bizarre way of looking at the third largest religion in the world,” the committee said in a statement. “In a charged environment, a show like this can create a perception about Indian Americans which could make them more vulnerable to further attacks.”

The episode also sparked the first Hindi member of Congress, Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard, to speak out over the sensationalist depiction of a peaceful religion.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

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Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

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