American Hindus Against Defamation led the resistance to CNN to stop further airing of "Believer with Reza Aslan" by joining hands with several other Hindu organizations for promoting xenophobia and Hinduphobia. The participating organizations include, Hindu Mandir Executive Council (HMEC), representing over 150 temples across North America, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) with chapters in over one hundred cities in the America, Samskrita Bharati an authoritative source for Samskrita (Sanskrit) education across the world, Ekal Vidyalaya, a US sponsor of over 55,000 one-teacher schools across India and Nepal and OFBJP, the American unit of the ruling BJP in India.
In several cities, the organizations that are signatories to this statement co-sponsored demonstrations against CNN and Mr. Aslan this weekend. On Saturday, March 11, AHAD co-sponsored a protest by dozens of Hindu organizations in New York, to protest the show that denigrated Hindu dharma and depicted the holy city of Varanasi as a "city of death." Members also participated in community led protests in Atlanta, Houston, and, Washington, DC. Additional community protests are planned in Chicago and San Francisco.
Utsav Chakrabarti, the Washington DC based coordinator of World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) said, "We express complete support towards a multitude of Hindu organizations and Indian American groups that joined hands to protest CNN's dangerous misrepresentation of the Hindu community. We also thank the plethora of individuals and organizations that came together to lead the efforts to voice our concerns to CNN."
Ajay Shah, convener of AHAD said, "Mr. Aslan has caused serious harm to the Hindu community and put the safety of Hindu children in schools across America in jeopardy. Instead of propagating ignorance and hatred couched in sophistry, Mr. Aslan, a practicing Muslim, should meet with practitioners of mainstream Hindu faiths. Learn about Hindu faith from our scholars, saints, priests and ascetics, and experience the practice of Hindu traditions from its practitioners and not merely from the libraries of elite institutions or known Hindu haters." He added that "CNN has failed to hold itself to high standards. Despite being alerted about the offensive content, CNN proceeded to air the show without consultation with practicing Hindu experts."
Mr. Shah stated that, the Hindu organizations demand the following:
- An on-air apology from CNN and Mr. Aslan for offending a billion strong Hindu community
- No further airing of the offending episode
- A promise to consult practicing Hindu scholars nominated by Hindu Mandir Executive Council (HMEC), before programs relating to the Hindus are aired.