India is a democracy. In a free country, the right to speak one’s mind is guaranteed to all its citizens, regardless of what individual persons might think about the opinions or thoughts expressed. Freedom does not include the right to not be offended by ideas, as long as the ideas expressed do not call for direct physical harm or physical suffering on fellow humans (Note: Inciting violence because of religious opposition to criticism, and then blaming those who criticize said religion for the violence, is akin to blaming the victim after an assault). Unfortunately, certain elements in our country and abroad have taken it upon themselves to be the moral police of the world. They use threats of violence and intimidation to shut down freedom of speech. Despite the threats of physical harm and the direct incitement of violence, acts that are not protected under the free speech standards of any democracy on earth, the extremists are allowed to walk free and continue breaking the laws of the land while the shadow of public disapproval is cast over those who express their sentiments in peaceful displays of intellectual rigor and academic scrutiny.
As Manu Joseph, a journalist from Bangalore, said “The sentiments of the rational are hurt everyday by believers”. The depravity and moral ignorance preached by the various religious faiths are the scourge of humanity. It is essential that we challenge these beliefs. But we do so peacefully, using our constitutional right and duty to promote truth and defend our fellow women and men. In these times that we live in today, it is essential that we challenge the idea that dangerous ideologues can gang up on innocent civilians who are simply expressing harmless ideas with the desire to create a better future for all. It is essential that we strive for a society where we differentiate between people and the ideas that they hold onto. It is essential that we create a future where these ideas are held up to scrutiny and exposed if found wanting. And it is essential that people are respected and cherished for their innate goodness.
In response to ‘Everybody Draw Muhammad Day’, 2010, here are a few images of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Our disclaimer is that these images are not intended to outrage religious feelings or any class or group of people. There is no malice in our intentions. All we wish to do is to preserve artistic freedom by celebrating the rights that our democratic constitution grants us. We strongly condemn any acts of violence and any incitement towards that end. This is a privately owned website with a select group of subscribers, and this article is not distributed anywhere in hard-copy. Nobody is under any obligation to read the articles. Everything we do here is in strict accordance to the Constitution of India, and in the interest of the country and people that we hold dear.