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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Defending the Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech must be cherished, admired and defended at any cost. The most important test of freedom is when you are willing to stand up for other’s freedom.  Why should any one stand up for you, if you are not willing to do the same?

All the great things are born out of freedom; if the great reformers in Religious, Social, Medical, Mathematical, and Engineering did not have the freedom to do the right thing, none of us would have witnessed the good things we are relishing today.

If Jesus, Muhammad, Krishna, Buddha or others did not have the freedom, we would not have seen those religions today. They were radicals to the majorities at that time and they were chased, persecuted and harassed, yet they had the freedom to preach and left enduring legacies. 

Freedom also produces rascals. We should not make laws for the acts of the few; those few will violate the rules any way with or without the laws. There are 3 Million Americans in Jails today, the law did not matter to them, and passing another law is redundant. Same goes with the Terrorists, the more you go against them, and the more exciting it is for them to be scheming. We can spend half the money we spend on Security apparatus on education and mitigate terrorism; we are fighting them rather than finding a solution, a ridiculous duel.

The world has experienced the difficulties in dealing with the Cartoon issue. The radicals went ballistic in the very name of the prophet who would have opposed any violence and instead, would have prayed for goodwill to prevail, not only that he would have stood up and prevented any one from hurting the miscreants, then the cartoonist would have become bewildered and perhaps become the Ambassador of reconciliation. The reaction of the handful of Muslims was uncalled for and thanks to the majority of Muslims who spoke up against it.

Before the Cartoon was released years ago, I sent an appeal to Muslims to do what the Prophet had done as an example; to pray and ask God to guide the cartoonist with goodwill and offer protection should some one harm the man. Many a Mosques had done that and wrote to me about it. This was an opportunity lost for those who are bent on conversions. Of course the cartoons were distasteful, so were the reactions.

When MF Hussain drew the paintings of Hindu Icons in naked including Mother Sita, all hell broke loose. Of course the paintings were distasteful but the reactions were similar.

When Passion of the Christ was released; Muslims, Jews and Christians together opposed the movie and in many a Cities in India it was banned from showing in the theaters.

Clergies from Jewish, Christian and Hindu traditions have burnt the Quraan, Jewish and Hindu clergies have burnt the Bible, a Muslim and a Jew was disrespectful to Christmas tree. You will find these in every tradition. What we need to do it to treat this as an isolated incidence by individual and not the whole body of a people. Let’s not become the multipliers of cancerous cells.

The nation of Jordan is having a trail in absentia against the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, the outcome is obvious; he will be declared an apostate and death would be his penalty. We can clearly see the duping going on here; there are protests from the public to gain freedom and the Government of Jordan is playing this game as if that will solve the problem of the people of Jordan.

Asia Bibi in Pakistan is rotting in the Jail for Blaspheming Prophet Muhammad, and the fanatic core is out to get her in the name of the Prophet, who would have in turn prayed for her instead of revenging. I have written appeals and solutions on it and will continue to do my share of the work.

The Arab Nations sent a proposal to the United Nations asking to pass a resolution to ban any incitement against religious figures or religious books and I have opposed it.

Thank God, many have seen the wisdom in the freedom. The greater evil would be to shut some one out.  We should not make laws for the acts of the few; those few will violate the rules any way with or without the laws.

It is a learning experience for all of us to find solutions where no one feels that outraged, rightfully or wrongfully to express in such a manner. As a society, all of us need to do our share of goodwill nurturing.

Let freedom of expression be the rule to follow, we cannot go wrong.

Mike Ghouse is a speaker, writer and a thinker committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. His works is listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/

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