Washington: The latest issue of popular American news magazine Newsweek has on its cover page US President Barack Obama in the pose of Lord Nataraja.
In its November 22, 2010 issue, Obama has been shown by Newsweek on its cover page with multiple arms balancing several policy issues while raising his left leg mimicking the cosmic dance of the Hindu deity; considered a manifestation of Lord Shiva.
Hindu leaders in the US maintained that they did not believe editors at Newsweek sought to offend Hindus but they did articulate concerns over the trend of caricaturing Hindu symbols and deities.
Meanwhile, a prominent Malaysian Hindu group has asked the government to ban the latest issue of the `Newsweek` magazine. "We want the publisher to apologise to Hindus worldwide for their insensitivity in using the image of a highly revered Hindu deity in such an incredulous manner," Malaysia Hindu Sangam leader P Murugiah said.
Newsweek has named Obama `god of all things` on its cover.
"Hinduism`s sacred images are too often appropriated in popular culture without understanding their spiritual relevance to Hindus," said Suhag Shukla, managing director and legal counsel of Washington-based Hindu American Foundation (HAF).
"For Hindus, the iconography gives insight into the divine realm, and each aspect of representation is replete with profound symbolism that is lost and even debased by such attempts at humour," Shukla said.
"Hindus have long wondered whether the incorporation of their sacred deities, whether in Burger King advertisements, Indiana Jones movies or this latest Newsweek cover, is a result of a gaping ignorance of Hinduism or an effort to demean their tradition as exotic," added Jay Kansara, HAF`s associate director.
"In an era where religious literacy is an imperative, we hope that the media will respect sacred imagery and apply the same consideration given to Abrahamic faiths, for example," Kansara said.
A picture of the Newsweek`s cover page has been posted on the Kauai`s Hindu Monastery.