Tata LitFest Stirs Controversy As Activist Mehdi Hasan, Accused of Spreading Hinduphobia And Promoting Anti-India Sentiment, Joins Speaker Lineup

 Controversial journalist and activist Mehdi Hasan, who has often been dubbed as an Islamist, has been invited as a speaker at the 14th edition of ‘Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest’.

He is set to participate in two sessions in the event, the first one today (27 October) and the second slated for Saturday (28 October).

On Friday, Hasan will be in conversation with Congress MP Shashi Tharoor for an event titled ‘For the love of the Word- The Anil Dharker Session: Inauguration of Tata Literature Live! 2023 followed by in praise of the phrase.’

He will participate in another session titled ‘Turn the Tide’ with Rajdeep Sardesai on Saturday (28 October).

The event will be held at ‘The Tata Theatre’, which is located inside the ‘The National Centre for the Performing Arts’ (NCPA) premises in South Mumbai.

The co-sponsors of the Lit Fest include Tata Steel and Tata Motors, while the event, being hosted in association with ‘The National Centre for the Performing Arts’ (NCPA), is 'powered-by' Godrej and Kotak.

Hasan is the British-American host of 'The Mehdi Hasan Show' on MSNBC and was a former anchor for Qatar's state-funded broadcaster Al Jazeera, an outlet accused of promoting Hinduphobia.

Hasan has been in the past involved in controversy over characterisation of non-Muslims, atheists and homosexuals.

In 2009, Hasan, during a sermon, compared non-Muslims and atheists to “cattle” and in another of his later sermon included “homosexuals” in a long list of behaviours and categories which he argued were transgressive of Islam.

Years later, in 2019, he apologized for his remarks, describing them as 'dumb, offensive, rant-like comments.'

However, many dismissed the apology as an attempt by Hasan to make himself more acceptable to the left in the United States.

Hasan has also been accused by US-based Hindu advocacy groups of repeatedly indulging in Hinduphobia and promoting anti-India sentiment.

In his article in The Intercept website ahead of PM Modi's visit to Washington in 2019, Mehdi claimed that white supremacist Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik, who killed eight people by detonating a van bomb, drew inspiration from "Hindu nationalism" and RSS.

Hindu American Foundation (HAF) co-founder Suhag A Shukla called out Hasan for targeting Hindu world leaders such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

"Whenever Narendra Modi comes to town, Hindus like Tulsi Gabbard and Hindu orgs come under attack by activists trying to connect them to Hindu nationalism. Mehdi Hasan takes it further by connecting them to a mass murderer. This is wrong. This is tiring. This is Hinduphobia," Shukla had said.

"Mehdi Hasan claims Anders Breivik was motivated to kill by Hindu nationalism. Breivik repudiates Hindu nationalism in failing to take to the streets. He never even mentions the RSS. But Breivik mentions Christianity over 2,000x, Bible more than 300x, Zionism/Jews 300x," she added.

"Would Mehdi Hasan point to Islamic scripture or Muslim advocates as responsible for ISIS or 9/11 since OBL used them to justify his attack? He wouldn't, because it would be wrong. But Hindus are uniquely acceptable to be targeted thus?," she asked.

Back in August 2019, weeks after Modi government abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, Hasan had also accused India of alleged "state-sponsored violence" against Kashmiris.

Source: https://swarajyamag.com/news-brief/tata-literature-live-the-mumbai-litfest-controversial-journalist-mehdi-hasan-among-speakers


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