Hinduekstremister i den indiske delstaten Karnataka har forpurret planene om å bygge en 20 meter høy statue av Charlie Chaplin. De hevder at Chaplin var kristen, at han ikke var indisk, og står for vestlig kultur. Det finnes en hindusjåvinistisk fløy som sammenlignes med Taliban. Det har vært flere angrep på kristne i delstaten som styres av hindupartiet BNP.
emant Hegde, the film-maker, told local reporters that he abandoned the project after being threatened by a mob of 50 people whose leader told him: «We will not allow you to construct a statue of a Christian actor.»
The protesters were said to belong to the Hindu Jagarna Vedike (Hindu Enlightenment Group), a group linked to an attack on a Christian school in the same state last May. They demanded that Mr Hegde instead erect a statue of Swami Vivekananda, a 19th-century Hindu missionary to the West.
Mr Hegde told a local TV channel: «I’m really surprised that people would associate Charlie Chaplin with being a Christian and not allow the statue.»
Commentators warned that the dispute was part of a wider revolt by extremists who claim that Indian values are under attack from Western cultural imports. One of the most shocking incidents came in January when a mob of followers of the Sri Ram Sena (Lord Ram’s Army), a radical Hindu group, assaulted young women in a pub in Mangalore, a college town also in Karnataka.
Valentine’s Day celebrations, kissing in Bollywood films and cheerleaders at Indian Premier League cricket matches are also targets. The Times of India said yesterday: «With amazing regularity, petty and prejudiced acts that rip at the social fabric of society are hitting the headlines.»
The local head of the Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu nationalist and India’s main opposition party, said there was no place for Chaplin in the region. «If the locals are against such a statue, I am also against it,» he told The Times of India. «Why should one bother so much about Charlie Chaplin, who was not even an Indian?»