Mr. Johann Hari wrote an article "Why should I respect these oppressive religions?" presenting his views on why he, in his full rights to freedom of speech and expression, doesn't want to respect what he calls oppressive religions. It's results can be anyone's wild guess which unfortunately prove the fast enforcing stereotypes as true, that there were riots, death threats, etc. to the author and the publisher. Contrary to the prevalent pusillanimous environment and Pseudo-Secularist Dhimmitude which has stricken the Bharatiya (misnomer: Indian) media in addition to the Anti-Hindu communal Politicians, one of the newspaper The Statesman dared to reprint Mr. Hari's article as it is. What happened next was that all hell broke loose with the usual rioting, national property destruction with fake calls of being oppressed. How a free will opinion of a person, his democratic right, in an article can be construed as oppression is beyond me!
If Anti-Hindu Bigot MF Hussain can draw filthy naked pictures of only Hindu Gods and Goddesses just to be felicitated for it by Government of Bharat (misnomer: India), then why can't a journalist express his opinion on a religion? What are these people trying to even control what others think?
An Indian newspaper called The Statesman – one of the oldest and most venerable dailies in the country – thought this accorded with the rich Indian tradition of secularism, and reprinted the article. That night, four thousand Islamic fundamentalists began to riot outside their offices, calling for me, the editor, and the publisher to be arrested – or worse. They brought Central Calcutta to a standstill. A typical supporter of the riots, Abdus Subhan, said he was "prepared to lay down his life, if necessary, to protect the honour of the Prophet" and I should be sent "to hell if he chooses not to respect any religion or religious symbol? He has no liberty to vilify or blaspheme any religion or its icons on grounds of freedom of speech."Mr. Hari who told you Bharat (misnomer: India) is a democracy? This is what Mr. Hari said which allegedly hurts these Muslim fanatics,
Then, two days ago, the editor and publisher were indeed arrested. They have been charged – in the world's largest democracy, with a constitution supposedly guaranteeing a right to free speech – with "deliberately acting with malicious intent to outrage religious feelings".
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, he took a dig at Jesus Christ also. Do we hear of such despicable violent show by Christians in this case? No. Next, seriously, all that Mr. Hari said was what your own scholars and your mythological text say. How can that hurt your religious sentiments?
I don't respect the idea that the West Bank was handed to Jews by God and the Palestinians should be bombed or bullied into surrendering it. I don't respect the idea that we may have lived before as goats, and could live again as woodlice. This is not because of "prejudice" or "ignorance", but because there is no evidence for these claims. They belong to the childhood of our species, and will in time look as preposterous as believing in Zeus or Thor or Baal.
When you demand "respect", you are demanding we lie to you. I have too much real respect for you as a human being to engage in that charade.
Now I want to question Mr. Hari, who under pressure from death threats is toeing a different line and seems to be painting everyone with the same brush to save his ass.
In his latest followup ""Despite these riots, I stand by what I wrote" after the above article and death threats from Muslim extremists, he wrote,
I argued this was a symbol of how religious fundamentalists – of all stripes – have been progressively stripping away the right to freely discuss their faiths. They claim religious ideas are unique and cannot be discussed freely; instead, they must be "respected" – by which they mean unchallenged. So now, whenever anyone on the UN Human Rights Council tries to discuss the stoning of "adulterous" women, the hanging of gay people, or the marrying off of ten year old girls to grandfathers, they are silenced by the chair on the grounds these are "religious" issues, and it is "offensive" to talk about them.Mr. Hari, I challenge you. I challenge you to prove one incident in History of Akhand Bharat (India since Vedic Times) when even once, Sanatan Dharm Anuyayi (Hindus) blocked/protested against any argument/debate on the Religious aspect of Dharm (righteous moral duties and codes) or any such reforms from happening. Only a naive ignorant person like you and communal bigots like Karunanidhi, Antulay, MF Hussain, Teesta Setalvad et al can think such way. Those who breed and propagate the myths of Aryan Invasion to divide people and deride Vedic culture and history. If it was true, how the f**k can you explain that not one, not two, not three, but at least four religions other than Hinduism (religious aspect of Sanatan Dharm) originated in Bharat and were allowed to propagate freely throughout Bharat.
This trend is not confined to the UN. It has spread deep into democratic countries. Whenever I have reported on immoral acts by religious fanatics – Catholic, Jewish, Hindu or Muslim – I am accused of "prejudice", and I am not alone. But my only "prejudice" is in favour of individuals being able to choose to live their lives, their way, without intimidation. That means choosing religion, or rejecting it, as they wish, after hearing an honest, open argument.
What should an honest defender of free speech say in this position? Every word I wrote was true. I believe the right to openly discuss religion, and follow the facts wherever they lead us, is one of the most precious on earth – especially in a democracy of a billion people riven with streaks of fanaticism from a minority of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. So I cannot and will not apologize.
I did not write a sectarian attack on any particular religion of the kind that could lead to a rerun of India's hellish anti-Muslim or anti-Sikh pogroms, but rather a principled critique of all religions who try to forcibly silence their critics. The right to free speech I am defending protects Muslims as much as everyone else. I passionately support their right to say anything they want – as long as I too have the right to respond.
Here we have a country, where so many religions were not only allowed to originate and survive but to assimilate, propagate and evolve freely without any oppressive Jizya tax or Vatican's political "Holier than thou" diktats. Can you imagine doing that in any other part of the world? Yeah, Good Luck with that!
Even in the US, there are some Christian extremists who can't seem to swallow the concept of Religious Tolerance, let alone Mutual Respect, only to interrupt the first Vedic (misnomer: Hindu) prayer in the Senate. All that the Hindu cleric Rajan Zed was praying for was peace for all and guidance from God (any religion's god who cares) to give us strength and knowledge so that we can go together from proverbial darkness to light. But what we got were shouts of blasphemy from ignorant Anti-Hindu bigoted Christian jerks who have nothing better to do in life but to enforce their beliefs on others in order to "save" them.
Who the f**k do you think you are or anyone else think he/she is to question the Secular (पंथनिरपेक्ष/Panthnirpeksh) credentials of Hindus? Panthnirpeksh means "No preference" to any Sect, it doesn't mean Religion and it doesn't mean that all religions are equal as per 1976 amendment to the Preamble of the Constitution of Bharat by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Has any other sect of people, like Hindus, been so religiously tolerant and mutually respectful to any other sect in the history of Humanity? No. We have survived over 20000 years with natural & man made calamities, atrocities and genocide by Muslims, Mongols, Alexander, Evangelic Christians missionary conversions, British et al and we are still over 800 Million Hindus in the world. It's been possible to be the longest surviving civilization in the world only because of the strong fundamentals and ground work of Sanatan Vedic Dharm done by our Rishi Munis (seers), our Gods avtar like Baman ji, Shri Ram, Shri Krishna and it's Sanatan Vedic Dharm Anuyayi's (misnomers: Hindus) big heart to still let at least 4 other religions to originate and also assimilate other fellow sect of most oppressed people in the world, the Jews, by letting them settle with peace and honor in Bharat. So don't tell us Hindus, if we are "Secular" or not. We don't need your certificate.
Back to your followup. Look at the drift in your tone from aggressive in the first article to passive appeasing in the next. And you also took down Hindus with you. You are saying if I understand you correctly that Oh you are not against Islam like Mr. Wilders is but you are only for Gay rights and against mythical Anti-Muslim pogrom by Hindus. Mr. Hari, I don't blame you for appeasing Muslim fanatics because everyone in this world with rational views on Islam or other "Holier than thou" religions per say are feeling alone very fast but you should not have taken down Hindus with you to cover your bases.
Your selective under-researched journalism is stark because you called violence/riots post Godhra train terrorist attack as Anti-Muslim pogrom. Here are the official figures from Government of India. According to an official estimate, 1044 people were killed in the violence - 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus. Another 223 people were reported missing, 2,548 injured. These figures were reported to the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) by the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Prakash Jaiswal of Congress Party on May 11, 2005. Since most of these 254 Hindus died in police firing, your false accusation of Genocide or Pogrom stand incorrect, blatant lie, and part of false propaganda against Hindus. Get your facts straight and stop spreading lies as facts by calling it an Anti-Muslim pogrom.
Why is your heart not crying for those 59 innocent Hindus including 23 men, 15 women and 21 children who were burnt alive in a terrorist attack by a Muslim mob? That is what started it all in the first place.
Both the Godhra train attack and what happened after it in the riots were despicable acts of terror and should be condemned in harshest words. But BOTH should be condemned not just one part of it. So, please put a stop on your bias.
Secondly, I agree with you that there was an Anti-Sikh pogrom in 1984 but it was NOT done by Hindus as you allege but by a political party, namely Congress led by Rajiv Gandhi. This heinous inhumane act was done to take the "revenge" of murder of Indira Gandhi. They also did so during Bhagalpur violence.
There are evidence, witness, proofs that Hindu families in fact helped and saved many Sikhs by hiding them in their houses. It was a political pogrom like Nazis and not a religious one. I condemn it, again in the harshest possible words.
But Mr. Hari, don't worry no Hindu will give you death threat or ask for your head to be chopped off because we don't believe in such violence neither does our Shastr (Religious Scriptures) endorses/justifies/orders us to do so to those who hurt our sentiments during a debate/argument. Our Holy Scriptures teaches us to enlighten ourselves and others through open debates and not by violence & sword. Like a black sheep, as possible in any society or sect or religion, if there is someone who does resort to violence instead of any other possible/available Dharmic option and then tries to justify it in the name of religion or God, he/she is not a true Hindu, he/she is against Hindus, he/she is against Humanity and he/she is against Sanatan Dharm. He/She deserves punishment as per the respectable law of the land. But please remember that if literally attacked, Hindus do know how to f**k the sh*t out of an opponent to save the honour of the Matrbhoomi (Homeland) as clear from many wars in the past. I hope you stand corrected and choose not to spread lies to malign Hindus. I support your cause for freedom of speech to debate religions and I can understand that you are against those who are forcing others to go from Tainthood to Sainthood. But more than just prejudicially talk about Religious Tolerance of Hindus et al, learn to unbiasedly Mutually Respect them and their religion.
The Lost Battle by Rajinder Puri
Why was the arrest and release on bail of The Statesman editor and publisher largely ignored by media? The governments may have electoral compulsions, but has the media totally given up the battle for free speech?
Early February, The Statesman in Kolkata reproduced an article titled "Why should I respect these oppressive religions?" by Johann Hari reproduced from London's The Independent. The article described how the hypersensitivity of religious fundamentalists was gradually curtailing free speech and rational discourse to make a mockery of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted 60 years ago.
Some Muslims in Kolkata objected to certain references to Islam in that article. They agitated outside the newspaper office for several days. The newspaper wrote that it had reproduced the article in good faith. It apologized for inadvertently hurting feelings. But the government smelling political advantage on the eve of a general election prosecuted the newspaper for spreading disaffection in violation of law. The editor and the publisher were arrested and later released on bail. Let's recall that only last year, Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen, who had made Kolkata her home, was forced to flee the state.
It is not one's intention here to justify the article. Possibly the criticism contained in it could have been worded differently -- but that is a separate debate. Here, one would like to question the government for its over reaction and prompt arrest of the editor and publisher. By no stretch of imagination was the newspaper article as offensive as, to cite a recent example, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi's remarks about Lord Ram made in the context of the Ram Setu agitation. Among other contemptuous allusions to Lord Ram that he made the CM described him as a drunkard. Predictably there were protests and rioting. One person was killed during the protest in Karnataka. Yet, no legal action was taken against the CM.
You may argue that at least in Thackeray's case, as in the Statesman case, some police and legal action was undertaken. You may argue that the police in the three states may have different yardsticks.
But the basic point is not only one of free speech but of the different yardsticks applied to political leaders and ordinary citizens. The Statesman offered regrets for the article even if arguably that was not warranted. Raj Thackeray remained defiant to the end.
Innumerable cases can be summoned of politicians brazenly violating laws and remaining unpunished. Innumerable cases can be summoned of ordinary citizens being harassed though innocent, or being punished for perceived minor technical offences. The system of justice in India is pure garbage. The tragedy is that even media remains a mute witness to the rape of justice.