Traveling the world and learning about other cultures can be a fruitful experience, but sometimes that experience can lead to some sketchy practices — like cannibalism.
CNN debuted an original series called “Believer” as host Reza Aslan traveled the world to learn about different religions and cultures, which led him to India to experience an “extreme Hindu sect” known as the Aghori.
The highlight of the Aghori segment was Aslan joining them for a meal of human brains, while also drinking out of a skull. In the video above, you can see him get somewhat bullied into eating the brains at the 1:15 mark.
Unless you’re a Walking Dead or Book of Elie fan, watching cannibalism on TV isn’t exactly anyone’s favorite. But what really got people angry, was the belief that the show was fetishizing the Aghori practices, and disrespecting the Hindu belief.
Aslan has been ripped non-stop since the Sunday premier, being bombarded on social media with lengthy comments, like:
And let’s not forget:
.@rezaaslan You’re an utterly racist piece of garbage. What you did was one of the most hateful acts against Indians ever. Shame on you.
— Hindu Americans (@HinduAmericans) March 8, 2017
It’s evident that not everyone appreciated the episode, but Aslan hasn’t backed down, defending not only the episode, but his entire career as a scholar of religions. He said he understands the sensitivities that come with religion, but the show was not intended to represent all of Hinduism. In fact, one of the very first things Reza said on the show was, “There is a sect of Hinduism called the Aghori, challenging the very fabric of Indian society.”
If Aslan plans on being Anthony Bourdain 2.0, he’s off to a rocky start, but we’ll see how the second episode turns out. Hopefully he eats something a little less controversial.