December 21, 2007

Flavors of Fundamentalism I: Cafe Press and the Hindu Revolution Group

Every religion has its fundamentalists; Hinduism is no exception. A group calling itself Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, AKA Hindu Revolution Group, has taken to patrolling websites looking for instances of "defamation." One of those sites is Cafe Press, a website that allows people to create items such as t-shirts and greeting cards and sell them to the public. The Hindu Revolution Group discovered some items there it didn't like and has been lodging complaints with Cafe Press; Cafe Press was only too eager to oblige the religious radicals.

The following email sent originally to one of the sellers on Cafe Press was sent to me this morning. The headers show that it did, indeed, come from Cafe Press corporate:

Received: from ([])
Subject: RE: Use of Hindu Deities.
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2007
From: "Zhanna Lajugie" (
To: "Zhanna Lajugie" (

Dear Shopkeeper,

We are writing to inform you that one or more of your Hindu related designs has been receiving numerous public complaints and is being deemed offensive, particularly those designs appearing on undergarments and Dog T-Shirts. Below you’ll find an excerpt from a typical complaint.

We are writing to give you the opportunity to remove all the undergarments (Boxer Shorts and Thong) and Dog T-Shirts depicting Hindu Deities from your shop/s. Please do so no later than Friday, December 21st at 3pm PST. If you do not take appropriate action we will disable the content in question from your account, effectively removing all products with the designs from your shop, including products that are ok to sell (T-Shirts, Mugs, etc).

By removing the Boxer Shorts, Thong, and Dog T-Shirt products yourself, your shop will remain intact with the remainder of the items still available for sale.


Dear Sir/Madam,

I join with the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (Refer this link ) to strongly condemn the series of under garments and other products with images of Hindu Deities and icons on it available for sale on your website.

Here are the few of many links -

1) Tank Top with Lord Shiva
2) Shiva Calling
3) Radha and Krishna Classic Thong
4) Radha and Krishna on a Boxer
5) Radha and Krishna on Dog Apparel

There are many more such images and items for sale. These images and products are highly offensive to the belief of Hindus and deeply hurting our religious sentiments.

Therefore we demand -

1. Immediate withdrawal of these pictures and products from the website.
2. An unconditional apology for hurting of religious sentiments of Hindus.
3. To immediately stop production and sale of these products.

Thank you.


Zhanna Lajugie
Content Usage Associate

(650) 655-3104 (O)
(650) 240-0260 (F)
Let your individuality shine.
Make, buy or sell what’s on your mind.
Over millions of unique gifts with more fresh daily.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this email is provided solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. is not a law firm and is not a substitute for an attorney. If you require legal advice, please consult an attorney who is authorized to practice law in your jurisdiction.


The contents of this message, together with any attachments, are intended only for the use of the individual or entity to which they are addressed and may contain information that is confidential and exempt from disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, or copying of this message, or any attachment, is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please notify the original sender immediately by telephone or by return E-mail and delete this message, along with any attachments, from your computer. Thank you.
I particularly like the juxtaposition of "let your individuality shine" with the demands by a fundamentalist group that its sentiments be honored, and all of that followed by an unenforceable demand that the email not be shared with anyone who might object after the sender makes demands with no recourse for appeal.

Interestingly, the email appears to have been sent with all of the links altered to change click-throughs. I was curious, though, about this Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, so I went to their website as provided in the email.

Quite aside from the issue of censorship, the group appears to be quite radical. Firstly, on the page dedicated specifically to the "blasphemous" underwear, there is a comment board at the end of which appears the following disclaimer:
* Comments posting may be delayed due to moderation.
* Please refrain from using abusive and violent language.
Thus, we are told that comments are moderated and that abusive and violent language are not allowed. However, the comments themselves contain plenty of abusive and violent language. Here are a few examples:
13 Apr 2007, 23:51
people who created these things should b burried undreground alive. not only this but the american govt. should take necessary steps to punish these people;and also american govt. must appologise to all hindus.

14 Apr 2007, 02:08
Agree with Brahm and rahul..!
Keep in mind though Americans are more patriotic than religious..
Do something to denigrate their flag!

14 Apr 2007, 06:12
We need to start issuing fatwas against these people who go overboard in their attempt to denigrate and humiliate tolerant Hindus. A Hindu brigade should be prepared to carry out the fatwas and execute these xxxxxxxx.

14 Apr 2007, 07:10
people who created these things should b burried undreground alive

14 Apr 2007, 09:41
people who produced these undergarments should be hanged.

25 Apr 2007, 03:29
i am a indian but currently study in Australia. i just view a viddeo of one of a muslim friend showing me how christian missionaries were hard to fet some asian hindus and muslim converted to christian. i felt a revolt, my blood boiling inside me. then my friend was showinh me the undergarment with picture of our god. this time i must said i could not stand it. coming home feeling angry. we should kicked these missionaries out , beat them kill them if we csn. they thought christian is the best religion , hem xxxx with your christianity men go to hell

25 Apr 2007, 07:58

This is happening due to the peaceul nature of Hindus its about time we stood up and smack the slappers rather then turning the other cheek, The world has moved on and its about tme we hindus moved with it. Might is always right that is what the world respects now.

Harinath Pabbisetty
26 May 2007, 18:26
We need to shoot the owner of the company. We should not keep quite. Every hindu should protect hinduisam at least near their places.

13 Jul 2007, 04:15
The people who have come up with this idea need a serious beating
Certainly, by any standards, calling for beatings, hangings, shootings, and burial alive would be considered violent language. In these cases, though, it agrees with the sentiments of a fundamentalist group, so the moderator of the comment board allows them to appear.

There's more, though, about this particular fundie group. For example, here's a page explaining why Hinduism is superior to other beliefs:
The psyche of Hindus that ‘All Religions Are Equal’ is a centuries old misbelief...

For thousands of years, these religious persons (Islam, Christians) have carried out demonical killings of Hindus...
And, of course, more moderated comments revealing the sentiments of the group running this website appear, including this gem:
guru alias militant hindu
28 May 2007, 13:00
hinduism is the oldest religion. and is the only religion told by god. so one can get the complete datail of the universe. no other religion can stand infront of the hinduism. it is the final...
You get the idea; there's plenty more on the website, lots of language about Hinduism being the "religion that spreads peace" while they go on about hangings and burnings. In other words, typical fundamentalist double-think that one finds across particular religions and that appears in all of them. That the militant in question is Hindu, Christian, or Muslim only affects the target of his violence.

It's rather disappointing, to put it mildly, that Cafe Press is willing to cave in to the demands of groups such as this. I suppose this should serve as notice that Cafe Press will take the same action against anything that some militant group considers offensive, so I would think that it's only a matter of time before whatever fundamentalists of some other faith tell them is bothersome will be treated in the same manner. Of course, its probably less likely that, for example, anyone will find out about stuff like this (sexual content may offend some people) that makes a joke of the old "no means no" saw, and searching around Cafe Press turns up plenty of items that somebody out there is going to find offensive. All the censorship and violence in the world won't make it disappear, and I'm sure large groups hold more sway in such things than small ones, anyhow.

Fundies are fundies, and Cafe Press clearly listens to them, in any case. If you're a seller on Cafe Press and have anything there that someone might consider offensive to somebody's ideology, you might just want to be proactive about this and move your wares to some other site before you get "the letter."

One of these days, Christian fundies are going to decide that the Flying Spaghetti Monster offends them. I wonder if all the FSM wares of Cafe Press will be yanked at that point. It's a matter of time, I suppose.

More to the point, what good is a deity that's so powerless that it can't prevent anyone who wants to from buying a pair of underwear with its picture on it from doing so? Surely a god incapable of stopping one person from clicking on one hyperlink and must rely on threats, coercion and violence on the part of mere humans isn't one to be counted on when something truly important crops up. To me, that seems like common sense. To the fundamentalist mind, however, simple reason becomes lost in a sea of excuses and rage.

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