India: Hindu nationalists call for banning ‘beef eaters’ in temples

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In India, a very famous couple of actors were prevented from going to a temple because of a decade-old tweet in which one of them said to eat beef, a sin for certain branches of the Hinduism. Extremists then organized a demonstration in front of the sacred place which degenerated into clashes with the police. Now, controversy is flooding social networks, with some demanding that beef eaters be banned from temples.

From our correspondent in Bangalore,

It happened on Tuesday September 6 in the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. Actor Ranbir Kapoor and actress Alia Bhatt, a Bollywood couple who married last April, wanted to visit the Mahakaleshwar temple, one of the most sacred among the god Shiva. The problem is that since their last movie brahmastraRanbir Kapoor is in the sights of the extremists.

Reason: he tweeted in 2011 that he sometimes liked to eat beef, which is considered a sin. The Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of the Hindu nationalist movement VHP, then organized a demonstration in front of the temple. About fifty activists, according to the local press, forced the couple to backtrack before being later dispersed by the police.

Networks inundated with calls to ban beef eaters in temples

The controversy then exploded at the national level and on the internet. The media echo it, because they are stars of Indian cinema and then above all, because nothing can filter the good from the bad faithful in a temple.

Far from backtracking, Hindu nationalist groups are moving the confrontation to social networks. Tweets rained down demanding that beef eaters be banned in temples – even if no one explains concretely how to do so – and calling for a boycott of the film.

Chakrapani Maharaj, leader of the extremist movement All India Hindu Mahasabha claims that unless celebrities publicly apologize, Hindu organizations around the world will ban them from temples.

On the other hand, Internet users are indignant at this campaign, especially since for some Hindus, eating beef is considered normal.

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The instrumentalization of Hinduism for political purposes

Since the rise to power of the Hindu nationalist party BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modithe Hindu nationalist movements no longer feel limited and try to impose a monolithic and extremist reading of religion.

But not all Hindus recognize themselves in it, as it is a diverse and protean spirituality. Moreover, this extremism is politically recuperated. In the present case, parliamentary elections are approaching in Madhya Pradesh, a BJP stronghold.

This is how the Minister of Culture of this State justified Thursday a demonstration against the actors in the name of respect for believers. She took the opportunity to announce that identity cards would now be required at the entrance to certain Hindu festivities, to prevent Muslims from taking advantage of them to charm and convert young Hindus. What trigger a new controversy.

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India: Hindu nationalists call for banning ‘beef eaters’ in temples