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Aga Khan Museum stops screening of Hinduphobic film ‘Kaali’, apologises for hurting sentiments

On July 5 (local time), Aga Khan Museum issued a statement and tendered an apology for hurting the religious sentiments of Hindu and other faith communities. The statement was issued in context to the screening of the Hinduphobic film ‘Kaali’ by Kollywood director Leena Manimekalai.

In its statement, the Museum said, “Toronto Metropolitan University brought together works from students of diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, each student exploring their individual sense of belonging as part of Canadian multiculturalism for the project ‘Under the Tent.’

Statement issued by Aga Khan Museum regarding Hinduphobic film ‘Kaali’ by Kollywood director Leena Manimekalai. Source(Aga Khan Museum’s website)

Toronto Metropolitan University’s project presentation was hosted once at the Aga Khan Museum on July 2, 2022, in the context of the Museum’s mission to foster intercultural understanding and dialogue through the arts. Respect for diverse religious expressions and faith communities forms an integral part of that mission. The presentation is no longer being shown at the Museum.

The Museum deeply regrets that one of the 18 short videos from ‘Under the Tent’ and its accompanying social media post have inadvertently caused offense to members of the Hindu and other faith communities.”

‘Taking steps to address the issue’ said Toronto Metropolitan University

Earlier, Toronto Metropolitan University also added a statement on the event’s details page. In the statement, the CERC Migration department of the University said, “We regret that certain content in our Under the Tent presentation on Saturday, July 2 has caused offense and we are taking steps to address this. We are committed to equity, diversity and inclusion while at the same time respecting the diversity of beliefs and points of view in our society. We acknowledge the need to explore and examine complex topics sensitively.”

Statement issued by CERC Migration, Toronto Metropolitan University, Source: University’s website

In reply to the query by Wion News, the University said that the film ‘Kaali’ would not be part of the further screening of the ‘Under The Tent’ event. It said, “We recognize the short film has caused sensitivities and have no further plans to screen it at this time.”

Indian High Commission requested to withdraw screening

It is noteworthy that the High Commission of India in Ottawa had urged the Canadian authorities to withdraw the screening of an objectionable film named after Hindu Goddess Kaali. The High Commission said in a statement, “We have received complaints from leaders of the Hindu community in Canada about the disrespectful depiction of Hindu Gods on the poster of a film showcased as part of the ‘Under the Tent project at the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto.”

The High Commission further added that it was informed that several Hindu groups had approached authorities in Canada to take action. The commission urged the Canadian authorities and the event organizers to withdraw all such provocative material.

Manimekalai said ‘I have nothing to lose’

After the film director Leena Manimekalai issued a poster depicting Maa Kaali smoking, there was an outrage on social media against the film. In reply to the criticism, Leena had remarked, “I have nothing to lose. I want to be with a voice that speaks without fear of anything until it is. If the price is my life, I will give it.” She has not issued any statement after the screening stopped.

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