NATIONAL

Gandhi-bashing outrages Indians

Washington Jan. 28. The Indian community in the United States is outraged over the publication of an article denigrating Mahatma Gandhi and carrying 21 sketches showing the father of the nation being kicked, choked and thrown.

The latest edition of `Maxim', a lifestyle magazine, in an alleged humour article depicts a strapping man in a `Muscle' T-shirt beating up an image of Gandhi.

The article, attempting to show how fighting can bring fitness, calls for ``a healthy regimen of violent assaults'' and urges readers to ``teach those pacifists a lesson about aggression.''

Websites of non-violence and non-resident Indian activists are full of calls for protests and debate is on whether to sue the magazine, which has a history of making fun of Gandhi.

The 21 pictures accompanying the three-page article show the man punching, kicking, jumping on Gandhi and throwing him.

``This should not be taken silently. Ask for an unconditional apology from the magazine. Tell them to stop this violent hate against non-violence,'' said indiacause.com, a website concentrating on India-related issues in the U.S.

It asked the community to make a strong protest by writing to the magazine.

``My first reaction is `how stupid', my next reaction is `how sad','' Michelle Naef of the M.K. Gandhi Institute in Memphis was quoted as saying by tolerance.org, a website that promotes non-violence.

``How sad it is that they don't understand how special a person he (Gandhi) was... special and incredibly strong,'' Naef said. ``Gandhi spent his life fasting and being tortured... Clearly, they have no clue who they're dealing with, to depict him this way.''

In today's context, after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. and with the anti-war movement, ``this article is telling people to beat the crap out of Asians and pacifists,'' said Michael Matsuda, chairperson of the Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance in California.

``It is fanning the flames of hatred and bigotry... That should be offensive to everyone,'' he told tolerance.org.

Both Naef and Matsuda, along with other pacifist organisations are seeking a formal apology from Maxim, which had run a so-called `stupid fun' article in 2000 titled, ``Oh, Calcutta: Three reasons to hate... Gandhi.''

``There is a deep and fundamental misunderstanding of what non-violence is all about,'' Naef said. — PTI

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