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The Twitterverse pounces on Reza Aslan’s firing

(RNS) People expressed concern about Aslan's firing and some suggested his Muslim identity may have played a role.

Reza Aslan has been a prominent television personality for years. Photo courtesy of Malin Fezahai

(RNS) In the days since his firing, Reza Aslan’s supporters have sparked debate about free speech and racism on Twitter as they criticized CNN and came to the popular TV personality’s defense.

Aslan had already begun production on the second season of his TV show “Believer” when CNN canceled it June 9 in response to a vulgar tweet about President Trump.

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Reacting to the president’s tweet about the London terror attacks, Aslan’s since-deleted tweet referred to Trump as a “piece of s—.” After CNN officially canceled his series, an adventure show in which Aslan visited different religious groups around the world, Aslan apologized in a statement of his own.

“Believer” was met with some criticism when it premiered in March, primarily from Hindu and Scientology groups that felt the show misrepresented their faiths. One Hindu organization created an online petition for its cancellation that gained over 20,000 supporters.

Reza Aslan in India for the CNN show “Believer.” Photo courtesy of CNN

By contrast, a petition to save the show attracted only six supporters so far.

Still, a few fans did express disappointment in the cancellation:

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More Twitter users and media personalities showed support for Aslan as opposed to discussing the show itself.

Other Twitter users commended CNN’s decision.

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The conversation has also included deeper discussion about race, religion and free speech. Twitter users are questioning why some personalities, like Aslan and Kathy Griffin, have been penalized for speaking against the president while others have not.

Some suggested Aslan’s identity as a Muslim may be part of the reason he was fired.