Mocking The Religion
Atheism has been on the rise in recent years, mostly in the West where a big chunk of people especially youngsters like to be identified as “Not Religious”. However, around the world including some Western countries, most people believe in some kind of ‘High Power’ and many still prefer to identify with one or another religion. Religious values and practices are strongly observed. Almost all religions’ rudimentary teachings promote peaceful coexistence, empathy, social welfare, human values, and simultaneously negate, denounce mephistophelian acts in the shape of prejudice, jingoism, and hatred towards people with different faiths.
Religions have always had a core position in the hearts of their believers and the latter’s religious identities are reflected in their physical appearances. For instance, a man having a beard, bottoms of his pants raised above the ankles and a skullcap on his head will always be looked upon as a Muslim. Similarly, a man wearing a dhoti, shawl spread loosely on his shoulders and with sikha hairstyle will definitely be considered a man from the top of the Hindu religious hierarchical order i.e. Brahmin. Religion runs deep in veins of some societies but we occasionally neglect its very tenets that clearly uphold the sanctity of all religions existing in a country. Be it India, Pakistan, European countries or others, this practice is running rampant that always the majority of any state at times does something that hurts the religious sentiments of a specific minority. There has been spike of such in recent years.
So many incidents mocking the religions have surfaced lately that it is hard for one to start with. But the most recent mockery of Islamic Religion has been carried out by Charlie Hebdo Magazine which is a French satirical weekly and features cartoons, reports and Jokes. Of late, it republished the blasphemous content about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which sparked a massive outrage in the Muslim world. People at the helm of affairs of this magazine didn’t seem to have learnt any lesson from the 2011 and 2015 attacks on its offices. Although the former attack didn’t cause any casualty yet the latter—reportedly orchestrated by Al-Qaeda—proved fatal and left twelve people dead including the publishing director of the magazine Charb leaving several badly injured. After that terrific attack, the offices of this magazine were shifted to a secret address but sadly it didn’t stop publishing such controversial material.
This time a Pakistani teenage boy settled in France and as per the reports having no links with any militant group opened an attack with a cleaver on two persons standing near the previous offices of Charlie Hebdo. He confessed in an initial inquiry that he didn’t know the offices had been shifted to anywhere else and assumed the victims as employees at the magazine. Further he added that he did so in response to the controversial cartoons republished by the magazine. Its also important to note one thing here that—irrespective of mentioning any particular religion—contempt for God, prophet or saint can provoke someone to take laws into one’s own hands. At this point its perfect to quote German philosopher Friedrich Hegel who once said, “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.” Going by the world’s attitude, this quote seems so true even today.
Over several years, a cartoon contest has been organized in different states of the world. In 2015, American activist Pamela Geller had organized this contest in the US state of Texas. As could be expected, two armed men tried to thwart the event but somehow they were killed by the security personnel in retaliation. Despite this warning in the beginning, Geller didn’t postpone the event and continued to carry on with that episode . In Islam, it is prohibited to draw even a positive portrait of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), let alone the negative one. So apparently, the event was deliberately organized to hurt the sentiments of all Muslims. Galler’s main “motive” behind organizing this event was to give more space to freedom of expression. How deforming the shape of any religion’s most venerated personality—which no one of today’s world has ever seen—could come in the category of “Freedom of Expression”? Geller’s motive was as rubbish as anything in the universe can ever be. Her immature state of mind can easily be assessed by this fact that she levelled allegations against the ex-president of the United States Barack Obama that he was Muslim and not original citizen of the USA. Given her abnormal state of mind, anything could be expected from her.
In another similar incident, Dutch far-right lawmaker Geert Wilders who is widely known for his virulent anti-Islam statements has been organizing this nonsensical competition for years. At different occasions, men have been arrested who openly hurled death threats at Wilders. In 2018, a man allegedly got arrested on the suspicion that he was plotting to assassinate Wilders. In fact, a Dutch court in the month of September this year ruled that the lawmaker is guilty of insulting Moroccans who are largely Muslims. In a political rally in 2014, he asked his supporters if they wanted more or fewer Moroccans in their country, to which the public replied “Fewer! Fewer!” So, rulings came in reaction to the discriminatory speech of Wilders. Other prosecutors of the country have also stipulated that a fine of 5,000 euros be imposed upon Wilders for provoking discrimination and hate speech against the Moroccan immigrants.
The anti-Islam politician has cancelled this year’s cartoon contest citing that he does not feel like risking the lives of others. He further added that he had received death threats as well .Its also being said that he doesn’t have any interest in organizing such events but he does so to gain media attention in the face of his waning political support in the country. Without a modicum of doubt I believe that the worst of politicians in the world are those who use religion as a means to maximize their political clout and leverage. Whatsoever, its a welcome move that the ill-natured event has been cancelled and this must be made sure that never in the years to come such competition be organized that can hurt people’s sentiments on such a large scale.
In the month of November last year, an organized desecration of the Holy Quran in Norway had ignited a humongous outcry across the Muslim world. As per the “Stop The Islamization of Norway (SION)” group, the event was organized to open more avenues for freedom of expression. But how vilifying any religion’s holy scriptures can be justified as “Expression of Freedom”? To say the least, it was a deliberate move of Norwegians to vent their prejudice against Islam.
American Author Michael H. Hart in his bestselling book “The 100: A Ranking of The Most Influential Persons in History” venerated Holy Prophet in these words: “My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level.” I believe that had those bent to promoting Islamophobia ever read or done research on the life of Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), they will never commit such reprehensible acts of holding absurd competitions. Just check out what the Quran says about humanity— not specifically about Muslims—”Whoever kills a person [unjustly] its as though he has slained all mankind. And whoever saves a life, its as though he has saved all mankind .” Surah Al-Maaida (5:32)
Its not just about Islam but deforming any other religion’s deities and prophets and denigrating holy scriptures is equally wrong. As I have already mentioned, resorting to insulting religions to maximize one’s clout in various fields of life is a tactic beyond despicable. For peaceful coexistence between people of different religions, sects and ethnicities to prosper, its incumbent on the world leaders to prevent the recurrence of such odious incidents or events in their respective countries in the future.