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Indian Community Protests Australia Meat Ad Featuring Lord Ganesha

Sydney:  Hundreds of people attended rallies in Australia’s major cities today to protest an advertisement the Indian community described as “highly insulting” in its depiction of Lord Ganesha.

The India Forum Australia (IFA) arranged the protests in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in response to a Meat and Livestock Australia advertisement, aired earlier this month.

The ad featured various deities including Lord Ganesha, sitting down to a meal of lamb.

IFA head Nihal Agar today said the meat company had not listened to the Indian community’s earlier concerns when the ad initially screened.

“To say something is legal is one thing, but it’s something else to touch the heart and that is how MLA (Meat and Livestock Australia) has failed our community,” he said. “This is not the multicultural Australia that we truly love.”

Earlier this month, India’s High Commission in Canberra lodged a complaint with the Australian government asking for the ad’s removal.

The Advertising Standards Bureau dismissed complaints, saying Lord Ganesha was depicted positively and that the advertisement’s intent was to be inclusive.

Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs, Zed Seselja, told Reuters today that he had met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and leaders of Australia’s Hindu community because of the “genuine hurt” that had been caused.

Zed Seselja said organisations needed to consider the impact on people of faith when they exercised their freedom of speech but cautioned against censorship.

An spokesman of the meat firm said in a statement after the ad first aired that the organisation had undertaken “extensive research and consultation” while making the advertisement.

The industry association has a history of controversial campaigns, geared at generating discussion and promoting meat consumption. Another advertisement this year featuring indigenous Australians welcoming boat arrivals to a barbecue on a beach was described as insensitive while a previous campaign was criticised for promoting violence against vegans.

(Reporting by Benjamin Cooper; Editing by Sam Holmes)
 

© Thomson Reuters 2017