An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Religious Zealots and Declaration of Human Rights that are Truly "Universal"

There is a liberal-left British journalist and writer – Johann Hari – who writes for Independent and Huffington Post. One article of his appeared in the Statesman in West Bengal – actually reproduced. It hurt the local Muslims so much that they attacked the newspaper office and the Editor of the paper was arrested.[2] What was his topic?

UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which is the foundational statement on upholding freedom of speech.

His argument was that these people are fighting against.. yes, against this statement to make sure that it is changed and not kept as is! [1]

Chinese dictatorship calls it “Western”, Robert Mugabe calls it “colonialist”, and Dick Cheney calls it “outdated”

There is another bunch of people who are against it – the Islamic countries. Why? They think that it freedom of speech should be within the confined within the religious sensitivities – THEIRS! So, they have issued Islamic Declaration of Human Rights – which essentially says that until you are WITHIN the confines of Shariah – and obey its rules.. you are ensured the “Freedom of Speech”.

Outside of Shariah confines.. well.. you are anyways fair game! Just like these vandals of Statesman demonstrated! Ok, if you didn’t get it.. let me break it down for you.. if you are willing to live in a Taliban-enforced like world, you are free to “say” what you want and “wear” what you want – amongst the options that these Taliban-style zealots offer you with! Of course, if you cross the lines – which isn’t too far away anyways – then you could be stoned, shot or simply be beheaded!

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And then, being an atheist, he goes on to express his disdain for religions:

All people deserve respect, but not all ideas do. I don’t respect the idea that a man was born of a virgin, walked on water and rose from the dead. I don’t respect the idea that we should follow a “Prophet” who at the age of 53 had sex with a nine-year old girl, and ordered the murder of whole villages of Jews because they wouldn’t follow him.

First of all, we have to understand what he is saying – basically that people should be respected as human beings.. but WHY have an inherent and uncompromising respect for all the ideas? Even the ones that you find abhoring? If you have faith in those ideas, and want to remain in that world, thats your prerogative, but if you want to enforce that on everyone else, then it is VERY FAIR for others to turn back and start questioning you!!

And it is important if your “hurt” becomes a precursor of death for others – as was the case in the Danish cartoon episode.

Recently, Praveen Muthalik went around beating young people to enforce his own version of what the Freedom is in context of his definition of culture. Then the women – “liberal” and basically leftist in their outlook – who as a reaction went around hitting back by sending “Pink Chaddis” (pink underwears) to (provocatively and deliberately worded) “Sri Ram Sena”. It was, despite, all the negative mindset of the women, a very valid way of response that they had the right to. Similarly, when MF Hussain made nude Saraswati paintings, the same liberals were by him for “Freedom of Expression” and when he was attacked it was the work of religious zealots. I agree with that. But, then when Danish cartoons happened, these same bunch of liberals were all over the place arguing for the sentiments of the Muslims. Why?

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Is it that hurt and freedom is only one sided? Why does one keep caving in to religious zealots of ONLY one hue? Freedom cannot be ensured if it is UNiVERSAL. You cannot react to one set of zealots with Pink Chaddis and another with Red Flags!

Reference Links:

1. Why should I respect these oppressive religions?
2. Editor arrested for ‘outraging Muslims’
3. Johann Hari: Despite these riots, I stand by what I wrote

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