Reza Aslan’s new CNN show, Believer, did an episode focusing on Hindu cannibalistic sects. To further his studies, he ate a human brain on the show.
While he intended for the episode to explore the faith-based groups and point out how severe their faiths are in requiring participants to perform certain actions, he did not expect the backlash he received following that episode.
In the show’s first episode, Reza Aslan met with the Aghori, a religious sect based in India. The Aghori worship the Hindu deity Shiva, but they reject many of the more traditional tenets of the Hindu religion. Also, they practice unusual ceremonies, such as ones involving human cannibalism.
As part of his in-depth look into this religious sect, Aslan stayed with the Aghori, drank alcohol from a human skull, then ate a piece of human brain that had been cooked.
Later, he stated on Facebook that the brain tasted like charcoal and it was burnt to a crisp, reports Telegraph.
Outrage Pours from Lobbyist Groups
Immediately after the show and Facebook comments, the Washington lobby group, United States India Political Action Committee said that the show prompted hate-fueled attacks against people of Indian cultures and that the show characterized all Hindu people as participants of cannibalistic behaviors.
They further stated that the action was a strange way to examine one of the largest religions in the world because most members of that religion do not partake in eating human body parts.
Other experts have classified the show as “racist,” as they are showing just one sect out of a religion that represents millions. Further, they state that this sect’s heinous actions do not represent the entire religion.
Some feel CNN was incredibly reckless for publishing such a show, and that it was more about sensationalism than depicting the truth of a gentle religion. CNN has also been accused by Tulsi Gabbard, the only Hindu individual serving in Congress, for abusing their power to increase a misunderstanding of Hindu cultures.
The shocking visuals portrayed in the show were almost like touring a “zoo,” say some. They also repeated multiple false stereotypes about karma, reincarnation, and caste that Hindus have been trying to repeal for generations.
This cult consists of a mere 100 individuals that represent very different beliefs from those who practice the true gentleness of Hindu religion. Also, many Indian-Americans have now pointed out that the small cult has very little to do with mainstream beliefs in their religion, and was a poor representation of what they stand for.
The head of the Republican Hindu Coalition, Shalabh Kumarhead, has condemned the show and CNN for airing the depiction and called it a “disgusting attack” on Hindus.
CNN is now being encouraged by multiple political action groups and activists to shut down the show entirely. Those opposed to the show claim that CNN has examined a religion that is already feared by many and has made it seem as though cannibalism is a natural practice for all members of this religion.