Frontline World

React

India, STARRING  OSAMA BIN LADEN, June 2003

 

 

ARCHIVED CONVERSATION
Read through archived FRONTLINE/World conversations around this story, including responses from the reporter.

A Bengali - New York, New York
I am originally from Calcutta, the great city for Art and Culture and currently live in New York. I have this following message to all of you who conducted the opera:

Bin Laden can't be a Hero; in spite of his devotion to the Muslim religion / people. He is nothing but an extremist and a symbol of conflict. A religion should never conflict with humanity; but that is what he is doing. There is more bad side of him than the good side.

Many people, including myself may have been shocked by this message through this opera; I think they shouldn't choose Bin Laden to portray America's Imperialism.

If the message is to criticize America's war policy, they shouldn't choose to impress people with a distorted image of a Terrorist.

Shravan Jumani - Buffalo, New York
I would like to offer an Indian perspective on this segment. The subtext, as I interpreted it, went something like this: Anti-Americanism is so rampant in India that Hindus and Muslims (a minority in India) have put aside their significant differences to counter American Imperialism. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the Jatra in question became national headlines because it was out of the norm and not reflective of common public opinion. A quick glance at the editorials in the leading newspapers would have shown this. It is a fact that most Indians are uncomfortable with the way that US handled Iraq. However, when it comes to 9/11 and its aftermath, Indians sympathize with the US and see it as a natural ally in the fight against terrorism.

We have been at the receiving end of terrorism - just take a look at Kashmir. It is a great surprise to me that bin Laden was portrayed as a hero. Most people in India are aware of the links between bin Laden, the Taliban and the trouble in Kashmir. It is even more surprising that the reporter did not gain an appreciation of this crucial difference between majority public opinion and a minority fringe - a fringe that is in the business of selling sensationalism.

A skewed presentation of facts, as I believe has been the case with this piece, has far reaching repercussions for Indians in America. I can just foresee the difficulty I am going to face when trying to respond to questions from American acquaintances who want to understand "why does the world hate us?" and why is bin Laden a hero in India. The world does not hate America and bin Laden is not a hero in India - I wonder if they will take that at face value.

Michael R. Tom - San Francisco, California
'Shocked' seems a rather extreme word especially when Rath knows that the average citizen both Indian and American do not see beyond their own eyes, their own set of values and what media source they permit themselves to see. Americanized globalization is perceived as a threat in nations such as India, it is perceived as the new imperialism. This view finds it's way into popular media like the Jatra. American globalization is perceived as triumphalism- a manifest destiny. It is reflected in such popular media such as Fox News.

Joey Smythe - Seattle, Washington
I am pleasantly surprised at the stories carried by Frontline/World. As we can see, by both the Venezuelan and Indian stories, there seems to be greater tolerance for dissenting political views outside the USA than in it. We'd better wake up soon and stop kidding ourselves that we're the model of democracy to the rest of the world, otherwise we'll end up with the abusive and authoritarian government.

Jaideep Desai - New York, New York
I think that the producers of the "Jatra" are a minority of so called "Leftists" who don't share any common thread with most Indians. Like the real Bin Laden they are envious of the west and have no way to fight it so they stage these fantasy dramas of the pious nature of Bin laden.

Why did they not depict the ugly side of the bombers who went to strip clubs the weekend before Sept. 11. Also why did bin laden never provide computers or modern tools to the madrassas he funded while providing the same "western" tools to his kids. Hopefully Arun Rath did more in India than talk to the Jatra producers and the limited audience that watched it.

Sarah Wood - New Mexico
Why would Arun Rath be 'shocked' that America is portrayed as the villian in the Jarat about bin Laden? What is shocking is how we have squandered the world's good will with our bullying actions in the aftermath of 9/11. Raging anti-Americanism, Afghanistan and Iraq in ruins, and increased recruitment to Al-Qaeda - no wonder we haven't heard from bin Laden. We're doing the job for him.

Newville, Pennsylvania
Regarding your June 12th segment of "India, Starring Osama Bin Laden", I want to express disgust at the Indian folk play featured in the story. While the opera had some fine artistic valves despite its crude production during the first part of the play, I was angered and shocked when the Indians portrayed the stereotypical Evil American Imperialist that is so commonly used by anti-Americanist these days, while Bin Laden is smarmingly depicted as a messiah-like figure fighting for all religion. That's sick[en]ing. It's even more sick[en]ing as after the play audience memebers talking with cutesy smiles how the play helped them see the Bin Laden "is a good man" and that we "created" him. Gah, I can't believe those people. Bin Laden murdered 3,000 people, robbed the US of a great New York landmark, and commit other fatal terrorisms like the Kenya Embassy bombing, the USS Cole and so forth. And some Indian folk oprea folks and audiences what to turn this bloodthirsty monster in a hero? And make his victims villians? It's like learning about a play that that makes a hero out of Adolf Hitler.