Pseudoscience & Religion

‘Freedom Of Speech’ in India- Case Studies: Islamist Zakir Naik, Maoist Rebels, Film Actress Kushboo, Artist M.F. Hussain

A series of high-profile incidents over the past few months have stirred up conversation among Indians online on the subject of freedom of speech. Not surprisingly, parallels between the cases have been drawn at will to make ever possible argument for and against every side of the debate. This article is an attempt to look at the subject of free speech from a democratic and humanistic point of view.

I begin by outlining the essentials of four cases from the recent past. This will be followed by a short discussion on the notion of freedom of speech. Finally the implications of this discussion will be applied to each case.

PRESENTING THE CASE STUDIES

1. Zakir Naik Banned from UK and Canada

The man in question is a self-styled medical doctor turned Islamic preacher who delivers lectures, holds debates and answers questions in front of large audiences worldwide, all in the effort to spread the ideology of Islam. Naik is known for his hate-filled propaganda, delivered with a self-pretentious smugness designed to carry all the appeal of a tough inner-city kid wrangling his pants around his knees as he delivers one cheeky ad hominem after another on the MTV show “Yo’ Mama”. Its nothing short of cheap, logically incoherent, crowd pleasing rhetoric- going for the PWND factor. This image is the vehicle that he uses to promote a deceptively sugar-coated extremist ideology. He works with an Islamic television channel and also frequently travels India and abroad, spreading his version of fundamentalist Islam.

Naik has been in the news recently after being disallowed entry into the UK and Canada. Both governments within days of each other rejected his application to enter their respective countries on his speaking tour of the world. Naik is appealing against both the bans.

2. Verbal Support of Maoist Rebels Bannedmaoist-rebels

The ongoing Maoist insurgency against the government of India and the people who abide by its constitution is comprised of members belonging to various indigenous tribes in the forests of Central and North Eastern India. The Communist Party of India, Maoist, (not to be confused with the CPI Marxist) has been designated a terrorist organization by the government. The Maoists have been responsible for much destruction of life and property in recent years, as they fight the government supported incursion of mining companies into their lands.

Early in May of 2010, the Indian government released a statement warning that those who speak in support of Maoist terrorists could be prosecuted, under Section 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

3. Supreme Court Clears Film Actress Kushboo

In 2005, Indian film actress Kushboo was charged on 22 counts of obscenity because she said in an interview that it is acceptable for women to have premarital sex, “provided safety measures are followed to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases”. There were mass protests in Tamil Nadu where Kushboo was worshiped by some as a goddess. Needless to say, the temples built in her honor were destroyed after this incident. In April of this year, the Supreme court dismissed all 22 charges brought against her.

4. Artist M F Hussain Gains Citizenship in Qatar

India’s most celebrated artist in modern times, Muqbool Fida Hussain, took up Qatari citizenship in February of this year. Hussain was awarded the Padma Shri 1955, the Padma Bhushan in 1973, the Padma Vibhushan in 1989 and was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 1986. He gained notoriety in 1996 when pieces that he had painted in the 70s were reprinted in a Hindi magazine. Initially 8 cases were filed against him which eventually escalated to a large number of cases (about 900 or so) spread throughout the country. More details here.

In 2006, the death threats and acts of vandalism increased, forcing Hussain to spend an increasing amount of time abroad. His decision to take up Qatar’s offer of citizenship requires him to give up his Indian citizenship.

husain

ON FREE-SPEECH

What does it mean to be Free to Speak?

Popular conceptions of political ideals vary depending on the cultural mindset of the population in question. In secular democracies the freedom to speak as and when one wishes is tempered with a sort of commonsense that many find comforting. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t agree that some forms of expression should not be permitted. The problem then is that in practice very few of us can agree on where to draw the line. It is because of this that we must pay attention to the semantics involved in formulating such principles.

Common wisdom on the notion of freedom of speech is that we are free to say anything we want as long as our speech does not impinge upon the ‘fundamental freedoms’ of others. The idea is that one’s freedom of speech must not cause ‘harm’ to others. This sort of reasoning leaves much unresolved, because in reality the problem of deciding what counts as ‘fundamental freedoms’ or ‘harm’ is not so simple. In fact, the reasoning often seen in the media and as popular opinion is simply designed to ignore the question or pretend that it has been answered. The problems begin just shy of where commonsense ends.

The law, when it is shaped by such general commonsense notions, remains ambiguous. Such ambiguity is often necessary, given that moral problems are almost always situational. However, there are practical limits to such ambiguity. These limits are to be determined by objective facts and logic.

Limiting Ambiguity Using Logic and Reason

In order to present a clear understanding of the problem, we must focus on understanding the semantic and political philosophy behind the idea of free-speech.

“…there ought to exist the fullest liberty of professing and discussing, as a matter of ethical conviction, any doctrine, however immoral it may be considered.

John Stuart Mill

This excerpt is from Mill’s seminal work ‘On Justice” which has been instrumental in shaping modern conceptions of the rights of the individual in a democratic state. Let’s see in detail what Mill was talking about.

The freedom to criticize/express all ideas is a stranger to every dictatorship on the planet. The one thing we know for sure about freedom of speech is that the more it is practiced in a country, the less oppressed the people. This includes the freedom to criticize everything, including the state itself. It also includes the right to support any idea, however repugnant that idea might be to you or I. So, it is clear that such freedoms are a good thing. But how do we reconcile this right to support any idea with the ambiguous notion that freedom of speech must not impinge on the fundamental freedoms of others?

According to Mill, there are two major clauses to free speech. The Harm Principle and The Offense Principle. The first is valid (examples of use include hate speech, incitement of violence and making death threats) and the second is not (examples of use include blasphemy, criticizing an ideology, supporting an ideology/religion). This is the foundation of logic and reason over which we can build an appropriately malleable legal structure. Without such a logical framework, the ambiguity is a tool of oppression. The rest of this section is concerned with understanding the democratic interpretation of the harm principle.

Understanding the Harm Principle

The only valid restrictions on freedom of speech are those that are clearly meant to prevent harm. However, governments must go about doing this without stripping us off our freedom to offend. We must find a balance between the two. But how do we determine where this line lies? The only way to practice such a balance is to restrict the law to criminalize only those aspects of speech that clearly are intended to cause harm. Consider a case of hate speech, incitement of violence or making of death threats. A clear and intended causal effect must be drawn between the act of expression and the harm done. This is the only legitimate way in which the Harm Principle can be evoked to restrict certain forms of speech.

In order for an act of speech to violate the harm principle, it must call for and/or intend harm against individuals, and/or target specific locations or events. That is, one must express intent towards furthering specific harmful acts for the harm principle to be violated. On the contrary, if an act of speech expresses support for the notion of harm, or argues that harm is the only way for something to get done, it cannot be construed of as violating freedom of speech. This is the nuance that is often missed. One instance involves verbally endorsing an act of physical aggression (with the intention of furthering said act). The other is about simply supporting an ideology (without calling for harmful action). Of course, the ideology can have unintended harmful consequences, but that is immaterial. It can be argued that every influential ideology has harmful consequences, including yours and mine. This distinction between action and ideology makes a world of difference in real situations- the type of situations that such laws are meant to help navigate. The reason why we need this clear distinction is to avoid ambiguity in practice. This distinction prevents abuse by governments that want to get rid of certain popular ideas, under the pretext that they are “terrorist” ideas.

Note: In this case, ‘harm’ must also be defined in logical and reasonable terms. I will forgo that discussion here.

How Intent Separates Ideology from Action

There is possible overlap between support for ideology and support for action, which is why the distinction between discussion of ideas and the intent to harm is important. For example, it is perfectly OK for us to discuss the merits (or demerits) of destroying Israel or Palestine (just as an example). But if we demonstrate an intent to destroy Israel or Palestine by supporting specific actions, that should not be protected under free speech.

In order to clearly understand the role of intent, the colloquial interpretation of ideology must be properly qualified. Intention is the key dividing factor here. Accordingly, we must separate pure ideologies which have do not include intentions, from action-based ideologies which do. For the sake of convenience, we classify the former as ideology and the latter as action. Intention to cause harm is the difference between the two. Ideologies are very complex sets of beliefs, and no ideology is a self-contained entity. The only way we have of preserving freedoms and removing ambiguity is to clearly distinguish ideologies from acts that are intended to harm. This is the form of the word ideology that we must use to preserve democratic freedoms. This is very important, because politics, like everything else, needs careful analysis of the semantics used.

Free Speech and Free Society

In general, countries with citizenry that are relatively more free have a better understanding of the distinction between support of terrorist ideology and conspiring to commit acts of terror. In India as with much of the world, we are unfortunately unable to find such nuance in our political dialogue. The justification for allowing any ideology to be freely proclaimed and discussed is a whole different subject. I will not venture to tackle it here, but suffice to say that such freedom is one of the most highly valued commodities in the “free world”. In fact, it is the reason why the “free world” is so relatively “free”. The instant we begin adding restrictions to the free discussion of ideas we are in authoritarian territory.

free-speech

Countries of the World Ranked According to Press Freedoms- 2008, Reporters Without Borders

However, when speech does indeed demonstrate intent to cause harm, democratic governments have a duty to prosecute the speaker. The failure of this clamp-down on certain kinds of speech is also a failure of democracy.

Note: In a democracy, you are free to choose any platform that is willing to express your views, but you may not demand that a private entity provide you with a platform to air them.

REEVALUATING THE CASE STUDIES

1. Zakir Naik:zakir-naik

Why is Naik considered controversial in the UK and Canada and not in India? India has faced more Islamic terrorism than either of the other two countries, and yet Naik has not been the target of the Indian government.

A closer look at some of the most vile of Naik’s statements offers some clues. The one statement of Naik’s that has been quoted the most in the aftermath of the recent incidents is this: If he (Osama) is terrorizing the terrorists, if he is terrorizing America the terrorist, the biggest terrorist, every Muslim should be a terrorist.’

Terrorism is an ideology, and a repulsive one at that to any civilized human being. But, as we have seen in the discussion above, specific terrorist acts must be described and endorsed before one can be accused of violating the harm clause. So, in my opinion, the above sentence, if taken by itself, is not grounds for prosecution. However, there are other statements made by Naik that, together with the above statement, conspire to discredit the notion that Naik is not endorsing violent acts. Specifically, Naik has made it clear multiple times that the ideology- the specific form of Islam- that he supports, requires homosexuals and apostates be put to death. Can you imagine him saying such a thing about Hindus? If Zakir Naik came out and said that the belief system that he is promoting on TV and using loudspeakers requires all Hindus to be put to death, he would be behind bars quicker than you can say “inshallah”! It is, however, socially (and apparently, legally as well) acceptable in India to say such things about homosexuals and kafirs.

By endorsing specific harmful acts against innocent civilians, through the process of spreading a particular extremist ideology that, by Naik’s own admission, absolutely requires those acts, Zakir Naik has violated the harm principle. He should have been prosecuted for hate speech and incitement of violence by the Indian government, long before Canada and the UK made clear the hateful deception that he represents. Naik’s fault is not the fact that he has defended and even promoted the idea of terrorism, but that he has clearly and explicitly endorsed specific acts of terror.

2. Maoist Rebels:

Under the conditions set by the democratic interpretation of free speech, the newly passed amendment to Section 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 is a violation of our right to freedom of speech. There are two clear arguments to be made against the law..

a. The law is deliberately ambiguous.

This is the relevant portion of the statement, taken from the article:

“Any person who commits the offense of supporting such a terrorist organization (like Communist Party of India (CPI)-Maoist) with inter alia intention to further the activities of such terrorist organizations would be liable to be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or with fine or with both,” a home ministry statement said.”

The article goes on to say:

“It said such action would be taken under Section 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.”

Free speech can be preserved while respecting the harm clause. This requires a clear distinction in the law between legitimate discussion of ideas and expression of intent to harm. This is clearly missing in the law. A law restricting free speech becomes a tool to be used for suppression of ideas when it is so purposefully unclear. The harm clause could easily be stated very clearly and simply. Why could the lawmakers have not been more clear? One simple change in the language of the law would make it perfectly acceptable. If the law said “… the intention to further the terrorist activities of such organisations”, we would not be having this conversation. This is a simple switch from “furthering the activities of terrorist organizations” to “furthering the terrorist activities of these organizations”, but the effect is dramatic and extremely significant. This switch would remove the ambiguity inherent in the current law, but make the law ineffective as far as stifling of dissenting ideologies is concerned. My argument is that that the ambiguity is deliberately designed and put in place to suppress public expression and discussion of this ideology, through government intimidation.

b. The law is redundant

The new law is redundant regarding its stated purpose of targeting Maoist terrorism. It is not required for the government to do what it should be doing to stop terrorist acts. Whatever the contents of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act prior to the addendum, it was fully sufficient to address Maoist terrorism. The recent change only pushes through one addition that makes any difference- the targeting of the Maoist ideology. This is why the new law is redundant as far as the purpose of targeting terrorism is concerned. It does not bring anything new to targeting the terrorist activities. The sole purpose of this law is to target the ideology.

Both these arguments (a and b) conspire to discredit the proposed intent and to lay unwarranted power in the hands of the government.

Some Additional Points

The tyrannical suppression of the freedom to believe and to propagate particular ideologies is commonplace in dictatorships and rare in true democracies. India does have a lot of freedoms compared to dictatorships and tyrannical regimes, but this is a hard fought and hard earned set of freedoms. In India, we can fight against tyranny confident that someday the truth will prevail, despite the forces that tend to accumulate power. The process of dialogue is key to our democracy, like it is to all democracies. The problem is that when laws are made to target ideologies rather than actions, this freedom to discuss and debate ideas is compromised. It was undemocratic when Stalin banned expression of religion and it is undemocratic if India bans expression of Maoist ideology (this is not the case with the law, but it comes awfully close, using intimidation to suppress ideas).

No ideology is self-contained, including Maoist ideology. Contained within the Maoist ideology is a deeper political ideology with ideological roots in many other systems of thought that must not be censored. It must be debated and discussed in the free-market of ideas. Simply dismissing all Maoist ideology as terrorist is exactly the kind of thing that the distinction between supporting actions (intended to cause harm), and supporting ideology (with no intention of causing harm) is meant to prevent. This sort of attack on an ideology by the government constitutes blatant censorship of ideas, under the pretext of protecting the people. This is exactly the kind of authoritarian government intrusion into public life that democracy is supposed to guard us from.

Under the current law, a professor of political science can easily be arrested for saying that the Maoists have a point. Maybe it won’t stick in court, but in any case this law does not necessarily have to be used to arrest individuals based on their ideological support, in order for it to have its intended effect. It is more about intimidation and control of mainstream culture. An objective observer must look at the language of the law and see how easily this law can be used to shut down political and social dissent.

Finally, I would like to expose a key assumption in the arguments supporting the law- the assumption that censoring Maoist ideology will somehow reduce Maoist terrorism. Where is the evidence for this? I think a very good case can be made that it will have the opposite effect by, for example, driving the Maoist elements underground and away from open and free discussion with democratically-minded and peaceful people. There may be better counter arguments, and there even may be studies on this subject. In any case, this particular point is irrelevant to the case against the law, because the two arguments presented above are sufficient to demonstrate that this law is draconian.

3. Kushbookushboo

The events leading up to the cases against Kushboo, and the eventual dismissal of all the cases by the supreme court, do not deserve to be on this list. But I have included this issue here to make a specific point about free-speech. Adults are free to have consensual sex with other adults. At a much more benign level, adults are free to say so. The cases against Kushboo are an example of a primitive and dangerous slant in the public mindset towards restricting democratic freedoms in India. The only thing scandalous about the conclusion of the events here is that the government didn’t punish those who filed cases against Kushboo for saying there is nothing wrong with premarital sex. The cases were clear examples of frivolous lawsuits and constitute a waste of the court’s time (and are serving to intimidate free citizens). The supreme court should have imposed stiff fines on those who filed the court cases against Kushboo. However, ultimately the blame here lies with the public.

4. M.F. Hussain

As with the case of Kushboo, the issue of Hussain’s paintings and their widespread condemnation by communal elements is more a failure of society than a failure of government. The government’s inadequate response deserves its share of the blame for Hussain having to eventually accept Qatari citizenship, but it was Indian society, polluted by an ideology that demands automaton-like in-group behavior, that was the ultimate force that drove Hussain away.

The standard arguments that I have come to expect from those who support Hussain’s move to Qatar (instead of criticizing those violent factions that threaten his life) have to do with the moral imperatives concerned. “Why does he paint nude Hindu goddesses?” “Why not the Muslim prophet Muhammad?” “Hussain is mocking Hinduism” “Hussain’s ideas are offensive to Hindus” “Hussain is a provocateur”. One is, of course, free to make these arguments, and one may even be right. However, one may not in a democracy expect that these arguments are sufficient cause to take legal action against Hussain.

Those who make these arguments are missing the point about free-speech. Hussain’s motives are irrelevant as long as he is not promoting violent acts against people. The problem is that where religion is concerned, people lose the ability to see that criticism of all ideas is a human right. Moreover, many of those who criticize Hussain’s actions (which are protected under free-speech law) have made death threats and even sabotaged Hussain’s shows and art works. These are acts that are absolutely not protected by the law. Yet the outrage from the Indian community and media has focused on the paintings and the “expert opinion” on whether they constitute “offensive material”, and not on the truly undemocratic abuse of speech by those who have threatened harm against Hussain.

CONCLUSION

To re-iterate, we must draw a clear distinction between discussion of ideas and endorsement of acts that are intended to harm. It is understanding this distinction that can liberate India from the popular undemocratic mindset that is constricting her, preventing the resolution of a vast many social and political issues that need be addressed using reason.

About the author

Ajita Kamal

51 Comments

  • This Article is misleading, in the case of Dr.Zakir Naik. Ajita Kamal writes:
    “If Zakir Naik came out and said that the belief system that he is promoting on TV and using loudspeakers requires all Hindus to be put to death…”

    This is very wrong. Neither Islam say so, nor does Mr.Naik says to my knowledge. For Muslims, Qur’an is the prime guide. Scholars like Mr.Naik help us in understanding it…

    Now read what Quran says –

    Say : O ye that reject Faith! I worship not that which ye worship, Nor will ye worship that which I worship. And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship, Nor will ye worship that which I worship. To you be your Way, and to me mine. (Chapter 109, Qur’an)

    So Ajita, is it loud and clear what Islam says –
    “To you be your Way, and to me mine.”
    In Islam, there is no compulsion of religion. Please spread truth and not hate.

    Peace.

    • Are you unaware of the meaning of the word “If“?

      You have completely missed the point I was making. If Naik had said that about Hindus, he would have been prosecuted. But he was not prosecuted because he said those despicable and evil things about homosexuals and non-believers. You are here defending this monster of a human being who wants to kill gays and non-believers. Of course those people are not real human beings to you, because you are brainwashed in your religious nonsense.

      “So Ajita, is it loud and clear what Islam says –
      “To you be your Way, and to me mine.”
      In Islam, there is no compulsion of religion. Please spread truth and not hate.”

      This is a blatant lie. It is people like you who are responsible for covering up the hatred that is in the quran by cherry picking the quotes that suit you. In truth, your quran is filled with hatred. It is you and your religion that spread hate. I am trying to get rid of this hateful ideology, and promote real peace based on understanding and compassion. Here is a small fraction of the evil quotes in the quran that clearly show that you are a liar when you say “In Islam, there is no compulsion of religion”.

      ANNOUNCE PAINFUL PUNISHMENT TO THOSE WHO DISBELIEVE (9:3)

      O Prophet! urge the believers to war; if there are twenty patient ones of you they shall overcome two hundred… (8:65)

      Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve (8:55)

      “Fight those who do not believe in Allah…And the Jews say Ezra is the son of God; and the Christians say Christ is the son of God; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; Allah’s curse be on them; how they are turned away!” (Koran 9:29-30)

      And fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should be only for Allah (8:39)

      When the sacred months have passed away, THEN SLAY THE IDOLATERS WHEREVER YOU FIND THEM, AND TAKE THEM CAPTIVES AND BESIEGE THEM AND LIE IN WAIT FOR THEM IN EVERY AMBUSH, then if they repent and keep up prayer [become believers] and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them (9:5)

      And if they intend to act unfaithfully towards you, so indeed they acted unfaithfully towards Allah before, but He GAVE YOU MASTERY OVER THEM (8:71)

      FIGHT THEM: ALLAH WILL PUNISH THEM BY YOUR HANDS AND BRING THEM TO DISGRACE, AND ASSIST YOU AGAINST THEM. (9:14)

      FIGHT THOSE WHO DO NOT BELIEVE IN ALLAH, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Messenger have prohibited, NOR FOLLOW THE RELIGION OF TRUTH, OUT OF THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE BOOK [Christians and Jews], until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and THEY ARE IN A STATE OF SUBJECTION. (9:29)

      O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination. (9:73)

      O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil). (9:123)

      I WILL CAST TERROR INTO THE HEARTS OF THOSE WHO DISBELIEVE. THEREFORE STRIKE OFF THEIR HEADS AND STRIKE OFF EVERY FINGERTIP OF THEM. THIS IS BECAUSE THEY ACTED ADVERSELY TO ALLAH AND HIS MESSENGER; AND WHOEVER ACTS ADVERSELY TO ALLAH AND HIS MESSENGER – THEN SURELY ALLAH IS SEVERE IN REQUITING (EVIL). THIS – TASTE IT, AND (KNOW) THAT FOR THE UNBELIEVERS IS THE PUNISHMENT OF FIRE. O you who believe! When you meet those who disbelieve marching for war, then turn not your backs to them. And whoever shall turn his back to them on that day – unless he turn aside for the sake of fighting or withdraws to a company – then he, indeed, becomes deserving of Allah’s wrath, and his abode is hell; and an evil destination shall it be. So you did not slay them, but it was Allah Who slew them and you did not smite when you smote (the enemy) but it was Allah Who smote, and that He might confer upon the believers a good gift from Himself; (8:12-17)

      And that you should judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and do not follow their low desires, and be cautious of them, lest they seduce you from part of what Allah has revealed to you; but if they turn back, then know that Allah desires to afflict them on account of some of their faults; and most surely many of the people are transgressors. Is it then the judgment of the times of ignorance that they desire: and who is better than Allah to judge for a people who are sure? O YOU WHO BELIEVE! DO NOT TAKE THE JEWS AND THE CHRISTIANS FOR FRIENDS; THEY ARE FRIENDS OF EACH OTHER; AND WHOEVER AMONGST YOU TAKES THEM FOR A FRIEND, THEN SURELY HE IS ONE OF THEM; SURELY ALLAH DOES NOT GUIDE THE UNJUST PEOPLE. (5:49-51)

      The punishment of those who pit themselves against Allah and His Messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement, except those who repent before you have them in your power (5:33-34)

      Believe therefore in Allah and His apostles, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one god: far be it from his glory that He should have a son. (4:171)

      What is the matter with you, then, that you have become two parties about the hypocrites, while Allah has made them return (to unbelief) for what they have earned? Do you wish to guide him whom Allah has caused to err? And whomsoever Allah causes to err, you shall by no means find a way for him. THEY DESIRE THAT YOU SHOULD DISBELIEVE AS THEY HAVE DISBELIEVED, SO THAT YOU MIGHT BE ALL ALIKE; THEREFORE TAKE NOT FROM AMONG THEM FRIENDS UNTIL THEY FLY THEIR HOMES IN ALLAH’S WAY; BUT IF THEY TURN BACK, THEN SEIZE THEM AND KILL THEM WHEREVER YOU FIND THEM, AND TAKE NOT FROM AMONG THEM A FRIEND OR A HELPER. (4:89)

      As for those who disbelieve in Our communications, We shall make them enter fire; so oft as their skins are thoroughly burned, We will change them for other skins, that they may taste the punishment (4:56)

      Surely they who disbelieve in the communications of Allah – they shall have a severe punishment; and Allah is Mighty, the lord of retribution. (3:4)

      Allah ‘s Apostle said, ” I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,’ and whoever says, None has the right to be worshipped but Allah,’ his life and property will be saved by me except for Islamic law, and his accounts will be with Allah, (either to punish him or to forgive him.)” (Hadith 4:52:196)

      Allah’s Apostles said, “When a slave (of Allah) commits illegal sexual intercourse, he is not a believer at the time of committing it; and if he steals, he is not a believer at the time of stealing; and if he drinks an alcoholic drink, when he is not a believer at the time of drinking it; and he is not a believer when he commits a murder,” ‘Ikrima said: I asked Ibn Abbas, “How is faith taken away from him?” He said, Like this,” by clasping his hands and then separating them, and added, “But if he repents, faith returns to him like this, by clasping his hands again. (Hadith 8:82:800e:) [So, with the clap of a hand, they can do whatever they want?]

      The Prophet said, “The one who commits an illegal sexual intercourse is not a believer at the time of committing illegal sexual intercourse and a thief is not a believer at the time of committing theft and a drinker of alcoholic drink is not a believer at the time of drinking. Yet, (the gate of) repentance is open thereafter.” (Hadith 8:82:801)

      (Isolated incident) …then prostrated himself, and all who were with him prostrated too. But an old man took a handful of dust and touched his forehead with it saying, “This is sufficient for me.” Later on I saw him killed as an infidel. (Hadith 5:59:311)

      [yes the Jews and Muslims are both descendents of Abraham, but here is the attitude towards descendants of Abraham through Isaac (the Jews]: “If they find you, they will be your enemies, and will stretch forth towards you their hands and their tongues with evil, and they ardently desire that you may disbelieve. Your relationship would not profit you, nor your children, on the day of resurrection; He will decide between you; and Allah sees what you do. Indeed, there is for you a good example in Abraham and those with him when they said to their people: Surely we are clear of you and of what you serve besides Allah; WE DECLARE OURSELVES TO BE CLEAR OF YOU, AND ENMITY AND HATRED HAVE APPEARED BETWEEN US AND YOU FOREVER UNTIL YOU BELIEVE IN ALLAH ALONE (60:2-4)

      Go read your quran again, and throw it away for it is a book of evil that preaches destruction of all those who do not believe in its fairy tales.

      Peace with true understanding. (Quaranic quotes from: http://www.blessedcause.org/Quran.htm )

      • O Allah! Another hatemonger to deal with… Can this world ever get rid of such people??

        I wish I could see an end to such [U]half-understood[/U] and [B]zero-knowledge[/B] interpretations of the Noble Quran.

        • Ali,
          Why dont you first establish your credentials as to why/how you are not a 0-knowledge person in general? What do you do for a living?

          Most of the people here have studied and practised science all their adult lives, participate in peer reviews, and become more knowledgeable. As far as I know, you read the same book each and every day, and nothing else. You/religious Fundamentalists contribute nothing to the betterment of the human condition, but hypocritically use everything that scientists have produced (medicine, engineering, etc). By reading just the same book each and every day, the logical conclusion is that you just stagnate.
          Have you heard about that your brother who wants to use Quranic method for faster transmission of data over the internet? Some of my friends have jumped from cliffs when they heard his ideas. I hope you have better credentials.

          • @ astrokid.nj

            Its none of your business to know my educational background and what I do. As long as I or some one else is bringing up useful and stuff with substance, you debate. If you think the guy is posting crap and has no sense of debating, you ignore. Isn’t it this simple?

            /////////////
            “You/religious Fundamentalists contribute nothing to the betterment of the human condition, but hypocritically use everything that scientists have produced (medicine, engineering, etc).”
            ////////////

            Well did you ever get a chance to read a book titled “The Quran and Modern Science Compatible or Incompatible”??

            This one is compiled by same, Mr.Niak.
            Do read this if you have a heart. I mean a courageous and fair heart. Check for yourself how the Science of a few decades and few centuries matches dot to dot with the verses of Quran, a book in existence for 1400 yrs, unchanged.

            Check for various sciences – Engineering, Astronomy, Medicine, Physics and so on….

            What scientists are discovering since few centuries is something already mentioned in the Quran, centuries ago. Do you think a science person can still doubt the Noble Quran?

            You can get a online download I hope. Else try connecting to IRF, the org Zakir Naik is about…

          • Check for yourself how the Science of a few decades and few centuries matches dot to dot with the verses of Quran, a book in existence for 1400 yrs, unchanged.

            If that is true, then Quran must reveal stuff thats currently unknown to Science as well, but is detectable using scientific method. Can you give a few examples of that? And.. can the Islamic nations follow through on that science and engineer things of benefit to the world? If you can do that, I swear to shut the hell up.

          • Excellent approach! All religions have this sort of post hoc reasoning in their desire to appropriate the discoveries of science. Ask them to make one single scientific prediction based on their religious texts and they cannot. But after science has established something, anything, they all claim to interpret the scriptures and find exactly what the science has discovered. This is the same trick that followers of so-called clairvoyants such as Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce are fooled by.

          • Ah.. I found a youtube video where Zakir Naik quotes how Quran has trumped science.

            Here are a few examples:
            1) Light of the moon: (self-luminous or not): Science discovered this recently (1or 2 hundreds years ago)?

            Nonsense.. This was known to the ancient greeks. In fact, they also figured out the concept of Earthshine (when the moon is a crescent, you can actually see the whole circle due to sunlight reflected from the earth and shining on the moon)


            2) Spherical Earth: Francis Drake discovered this in 1597

            Nonsense.. even the ancient greeks knew about this just by noticing how ship’s masts are the last to disappear when sailing out to sea. In fact, the greeks even noticed the circular shadow of the earth on the moon during lunar eclipses, and base don that curve even figured out the relative dimensions of the earth and the moon. And by doing some trigonometry and observations, they even figured out the relative dimensions of the sun to the earth. And they even wondered.. how come such a large body as the sun would go around a smaller body like the earth? (i.e initial challenges to the geocentric view)


            3) Sun was stationary.. revolved but not rotate around its axis

            Nonsense.. Galileo was the first to systematically observe sunspots, and seeing that they go around the sun, he concluded that the sun itself rotates.

            What an uninformed Zakir Naik.. He’s more than uninformed.. He’s lying.

          • Mr. Ali, I wonder and want to know your opinion on M.F Hussain’s case..does it seems to be fine to you? If not then why all the Islamic organization didn’t protest against him? It’s something more about religion, it’s about ego..friendly advice…please visit http://www.faithfreedom.org …may be u’ll understand truth or repel it more than before, choose is ur’s to be human or inhuman..:)

        • “O Allah!”

          Imaginary being

          “Another hatemonger to deal with”

          Name one hateful thing I said. Learn to differentiate between people and Ideas. It is you who is being hateful with your baseless accusations, and it is people like Naik who are spreading hate from a pedestal.

          “Can this world ever get rid of such people??”

          Your Islamist terrorist brothers are doing their best to do this. But I am hopeful that reason will prevail.

          “I wish I could see an end to such [U]half-understood[/U] and [B]zero-knowledge[/B] interpretations of the Noble Quran.”

          Are you refuting those quotes? Be specific. What you are doing is like a drive-by-shooting. You have no real option because deep down you know that the quran is the manifesto of hate that the whole world has seen it to be.

          • Hey Ajita,
            I liked your article, but I disagree with you about M.F Hussain. Well not because I believe in Hinduism but because I believe in Humanism. What is violence according to you? I believe mental or emotional violence is more destructive than physical violence. Well we got a case study above. 🙂

            Think in this way, every person have right to speech but it doesn’t mean you are free to do anything and say anything. If so called Doctor Naik was a normal citizen then he wouldn’t have been your case study (infact normal citizen think more worse) but he is famous (between his followers) and his word can influence others. Similarly Hussain’s paintings can influence others to do something similar. Well when u r famous then u r more responsible for what u say and what u do..have u seen all of his paintings?
            He painted mother terisa as respectable she is. He painted their prophet’s daughter (or wife) completely dressed. Why that, if he think that nudity is purity then why he painted his own daughter dressed? Well it’s not about Hindu alone, he also painted ‘Bharat Mata’ as nude..this shows his thinking and character..I don’t oppose nor do I support what you spoke or written because it’s your freedom of speech but this made Mr.Ali angry just because you mentioned Naik (think what he would have upto if your case study had Allah 🙂 )..my point: if you have power of speech then you should be more responsible. It’s impossible to make everybody happy but it’s possible not to make anybody agitated or destructive.

            Vineet Loya

          • my point: if you have power of speech then you should be more responsible. It’s impossible to make everybody happy but it’s possible not to make anybody agitated or destructive

            Your point is so juvenile. You claim to have liked the article, but did you understand it? Specifically the below
            According to Mill, there are two major clauses to free speech. The Harm Principle and The Offense Principle. The first is valid (examples of use include hate speech, incitement of violence and making death threats) and the second is not (examples of use include blasphemy, criticizing an ideology, supporting an ideology/religion).

          • Hey astrokid.nj,

            Firstly the whole point is that I liked the article because the idea behind it was to discuss ‘freedom of speech.’ Also thanks for letting me know what Mr.Mill think about ‘Freedom of speech’ though I’d preferred to know yours. May be I sound juvenile because my comments were more idealistic than realistic.

            Well my whole point is if a common citizen comments on any issue their voice is not publicized and don’t reach masses to effect them but when a famous human comments it reaches the masses and effect them. Well as the saying goes ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’

            I also wonder what Mr.Mill think about Offensive principle which results Harm principle.

            Well what I posted were my personal views and I completely respect yours.

            Vineet

          • 1) Its juvenile because its kind of like that Indian saying “After listening to the Ramayan, you ask what is the relation between Rama and Sita”. The author has been making the case that “If somebody takes offence, thats not adequate grounds to label it hate-speech”. And you come back and say that “XX is getting angry, so shouldnt the author refrain”? Who cares what XX does? If he takes offence, thats his problem. If he does any physical harm, he will be subjected to the full treatment of the law.
            2) Re: famous person vs infamous person: I dont care. The rules are the same. Are you aware of any current laws in any democratic country that depend on whether a person is famous or not?

          • 1)Imagine you are an artist or politician or any influential person, then don’t you think people will follow you even if you don’t want them to. What you do is your will but you can’t force people not to imitate you. Believe it or not but this is the truth.
            For an instance all actors try to promote a cause because they know that people are influenced by mere their presence. Similarly if an actor promote smoking or drinking it will attract many people to do it.

            Well while you were ‘expressing your views’ on Dr.Naik, you termed his speech as hate speech, but have you listened to his complete speech?
            And you can see what an influential person can do, Dr.Naik is lying to people openly and he has many followers who follow and believe him without trying to study the reality. This is what a famous person can do, he can make people fool with his ‘right to expression.’

            Well another view, if you are an artist then you are free to paint or sketch anything at your will but when your art is appreciated by larger crowd then won’t it change the mindset of your follower? An artist is not bounded by religious but it doesn’t free him to do anything.

            2)Well the rules are same. There is no discrimination between famous or infamous people (at-least on paper).

            Well what do you think if you are an influential person and ambiguous on what you say?
            If you express ‘purity as nudity’ and at the same time portray self religion in other way. (Note that I don’t want anybody to portray their own religion as ‘nudity-purity’ too..)

            Hope you saw the point behind my lines. In any case I welcome your views.

            Vineet

          • With great power comes great responsibility.. Wisely said..
            But that’s where you and I disagree Vineet..
            Try to grasp this idea..
            Your idea of responsibility is “not pissing people off”.. “specifically the masses and their sentiments”
            That is moronic and counter evolutionary..
            History has proven that any great change in society is brought about and any unwanted, detrimental stigma erased when people with power (comedians,actors,politicians,the famous) have broken the barriers of political correctness and spoken about these things.. Despite the risk of being persecuted by the people who claim that their emotions were hurt..
            Its your right to take offense but do not impose a moral responsibility on others to respect that right.. Its a personal right.. A right to feel and express.
            We should have stood behind Hussain to protect his freedoms, if not for his sake, atleast for the sake of the future of this country and our future generation’s freedom..
            Don’t be an “ignorance apologist”..

          • Now, Ajita its you who is cherry picking and misquoting the verses from Quran. Do you really understand the context in which these verses have been written.By the parochial and biased thinking you have, you can only imagine them to be evil.
            The way you did(misquoting the verses from Quran), had I done so(verses from the Mahabharat and Srimadbhagwatgita) to elucidate justify my point that these scriptures mere anthologies of hatred then I would be doing great injustice to these scriptures.
            Accept that you you dislike Isalm and it’s followers and you are filled with hatred against them. We don’t have any issue with that. But please please don’t portray yourself as know

          • Ajita has died.

            As to your allegations, I don’t think you have gone through other articles on this site. We do criticize Gita when it is used to justify hatred. Appealing to Hindu scriptures won’t do if you want us to let Quran off the hook.

  • This is like walking a tightrope 🙂

    A) The below still looks like support of ideology to me.
    “Specifically, Naik has made it clear multiple times that the ideology- the specific form of Islam- that he supports, requires homosexuals and apostates be put to death.”

    If he had said “Go.. put these homosexuals and apostates to death”, then thats clear cut support for action.

    B) Could taunting be construed as support for action? For e.g if he had said, “If you are a real muslim, you would follow this (murderous) ideology”, would it be support for action?

    • Yes, I agree it is very tricky to see where the line is, but I completely disagree with your conclusion on point A.

      Please re-read this section: How Intent Separates Ideology from Action

      Specifically, “In order to clearly understand the role of intent, the colloquial interpretation of ideology must be properly qualified. Intention is the key dividing factor here. Accordingly, we must separate pure ideologies which have do not include intentions, from action-based ideologies which do. For the sake of convenience, we classify the former as ideology and the latter as action. Intention to cause harm is the difference between the two.”

      Now, if the intent is assumed, that would be a violation of free speech. However, when the intent is explicit, as in Naik’s case, there is no doubt that his words can be considered as endorsement of specific acts of terror.

      Of course, you may reject my premise based on the role of intent, in which case it would be incumbent on you to provide a more suitable interpretation of the harm clause.

      As for B, hell yeah.

  • You mentioned
    “Note: In this case, ‘harm’ must also be defined in logical and reasonable terms. I will forgo that discussion here.”

    Can I draw you in a lil bit here?
    Freedom of expression must relate to Freedom of speech.. I am assuming that its also governed by the Harm/Offense principles. Running around naked in society can be construed as Freedom of Expression.. but its not permitted in any society..possibly because its causing some HARM and not just OFFENSE. What exactly is the harm in that case? (hygeinity? But I cant recall any hygeinity laws in society)

    • Astrokid, I find ‘expression’ to be a a bit too vague to bring into this discussion, because it includes both verbal as well as action events. But you are spot on in your general point. The harm/offense distinction is useful only in the type of scenarios that I presented. However, those constitute the majority of the scenarios that we rationalists are concerned about. In reality, there are many other exceptions to free speech (and expression) that we make as groups of individuals, many of which certainly would be construed of as violating free-speech laws as I have interpreted them above. For example, when it comes to exposure to young minors we humans universally agree that certain types of speech and expression must be held back. The same goes for sexual offences. These issues get very tricky and often their disambiguation relies on the cultural mindset of the people involved. Its very hard to logically draw the lines in these cases, since most of them are based on deeply ingrained moral reasons other than harm and offence.

  • Hi Mr.Ali..
    You are defending your beliefs as beliver does by using unconscious anxiety defence mechanism-RATIONALIZATION (Rational explanations are used to justify attitude, belief, or behaviours that are unacceptable). We might believe in many things. But all our beliefs NEED NOT BE necessarily true. When I went through the comments and replies given by you, I can firmly tell that your words lack specificity, accuracy and validity.

  • hey Ajita

    nice article…i respect ur views n liked them too.but plz dnt insult quoran …we should respect each n every religion n god…

    nice work though…m quite impressed by ur writing

    • @Megha,
      we should respect each n every religion n god…

      We make a distinction between ideas and people. We respect people, but don’t always extend the same to ideas. And that is the way it should be. Putting ideas on a pedestal regardless of their value is what causes stupidities like this.

    • Megha,
      I’m curious about which views of mine you liked. Or are you simply saying that to make yourself seem less confrontational? In any case, I completely disagree with your views.
      The quran is a book. It is impossible to insult a freakin book. Religions are comprised of ideas, and all ideas need to be scrutinized throughly. Ideas do not deserve respect, people do. And there is no such thing as (the classically defined supernatural version of) god except in the minds of some people.

  • Freedom of speech is paramount to living in a free country. I live in India and I feel that there are considerable restrictions to my freedom. Somebody is always jumping up claiming to be hurt or his or her religion being insulted. One cannot say anything. I need to be able to criticize religions, holy books, gods, politicians, bureaucrat’s, the government, the prime minister, the chief minister basically anybody or anything I want to. Especially religion.
    I do hope that India grows up as a country and gets educated.

  • “Freedom is NOT the right to do as you please. It is the right to do as you aught” – Anon. Nothing beyond is admissible even as artistic freedom. Whenever these lines are crossed, passions would be inflamed and stipulations of the “law” becomes irrelevant.

    • Who determines what the “aught” is? That’s where law comes in. In fact it becomes extremely relevant when determining when the lines are crossed.

  • There is nothing logical in this. Its more of a dogmatic projection of your personal moral visions/utopia. You talk of ambiguity, yet you only shift the ambiguity rather than address it. Instead you insert “religion” everywhere.

    What constitutes “harm” ? physical ? mental ? social ? medical ?

    What if someone encourages by speech something prohibited by Indian law ?

    What about publishing polemical articles against the Indian constituion, say in a public newspaper ?

    What about slander ? Like a newspaper publishing a article that does a polemical “study” on whether Kushboo is a whore ?

    What about a article encouraging Indian children to practise beastiality ?

    What about speech that “indirectly” leads to violence or social tension ?

    What about speech that directly incites people to violent uprising, lets say against Indian Gaddafi ?

    And finally, what authority do you have to set the limits ? And why should i accept it ?

    • “There is nothing logical in this. Its more of a dogmatic projection of your personal moral visions/utopia.”

      You have not actually addressed and disproved anything that I have said in the article, and yet you make such assertions about me. It is you who is not being logical.

      “You talk of ambiguity, yet you only shift the ambiguity rather than address it.”

      Again, you talk about me shifting ambiguity but don’t actually address what I have said, while ironically claiming that I am not addressing ambiguity.

      The rest of your post contains questions that can be discussed in a proper framework, if you actually are interested in having a conversation instead of rather pointlessly admonishing authors for not addressing all derivative ideas that can possibly stem from an argument.

    • Hey Ahmed,

      Well I disagree in big terms that the author inserts “religion” everywhere. She was actually advocating rights of Hussain who painted nudity. Well that is separate topic.

      Can you tell me what laws are you talking about. If you read all the laws in the constitution they have protected “religious” laws of all the minorities, for an instant Muslims are allowed to marry more than once while others can’t because it’s written in the holy book. Well Indian constitutions have many laws favoring minorities. That’s separate issue too.

      The point here is to know your ‘freedom of speech.’ Well I think if you try to say, paint or communicate with society with a wrong or immoral idea which can influence society then it’s violating your freedom of speech. Many people argues that US and Europe are spreading wrong meaning of word ‘Jihad’, agreed, then what Mr. Hussain is doing, isn’t he doing the same, spread wrong information. The point is, above are few examples, but you are again free to express your view. Finally the author doesn’t established any limits otherwise you would have been blocked to comment on this page. And you are free to opt what you want, follow somebody or make your own way.

      Vineet

      P.S: If you find me rude then ‘please’ know that it’s my “Freedom of Speech”.. 🙂

      • “Well I think if you try to say, paint or communicate with society with a wrong or immoral idea which can influence society then it’s violating your freedom of speech.”

        I’m not sure what you’re getting at. If I paint or say something that you think is immoral, how am I violating anyone’s free speech? Do you mean to say I shouldn’t be painting or saying such things? In that case, I would say that it is you who is violating my free speech.

        “Finally the author doesn’t established any limits otherwise you would have been blocked to comment on this page.”

        This is a misunderstanding that has been addressed in the article: “In a democracy, you are free to choose any platform that is willing to express your views, but you may not demand that a private entity provide you with a platform to air them.”

        The reasons why this website, like most reputable websites, monitors and moderates comments, are many. The guidelines for proper commenting are provided as a link right under the box you typed your comment into.

        • “I’m not sure what you’re getting at. If I paint or say something that you think is immoral, how am I violating anyone’s free speech? Do you mean to say I shouldn’t be painting or saying such things? In that case, I would say that it is you who is violating my free speech.”

          You have right to say or paint or do anything but when you are a person to whom society looks as an inspiration then you have to be careful about what you say or do. For an example recently I saw in some documentary that a science teacher was teaching creation as a fact but not evolution, may be he is trying to express his views but don’t you think that his this approach will ‘manufacture’ many ‘him.’ My point is one is free to choose their medium to express their views but one should judge it’s affects on his/her audience. Indian constitution have gifted many rights to it’s citizen but we should know how to protect our rights.

          “Finally the author doesn’t established any limits otherwise you would have been blocked to comment on this page.”

          I tried to answer Ahmed’s question of what right does the author have to establish any ‘limit.’ I meant that the author is not trying to bound some rules but opening a topic for healthy discussion.

          This is a misunderstanding that has been addressed in the article: “In a democracy, you are free to choose any platform that is willing to express your views, but you may not demand that a private entity provide you with a platform to air them.”

          In general, yes, but may depend on situation too. However I didn’t question that.

          The reasons why this website, like most reputable websites, monitors and moderates comments, are many. The guidelines for proper commenting are provided as a link right under the box you typed your comment into.

          This is one of the reasons that I care to reply here, to share healthy ideas.

          • Hey Vineet,

            I’m sorry but that’s nonsense..
            A teacher is there to “teach”.. The students are supposed to be learning from them and its mandatory to attend classes.. That’s the reason why teachers shouldn’t teach unproven theories.. or at least state them as unproven if they do expose students to such theories.. That’s the reason education deals in accurate and proven data..
            A painter/artist etc are private individuals who should be able to express themselves in anyway that doesn’t physically harm another human being.. We are supposed to view/admire/hate their work.. There is no prerogative to learn or be forced to learn anything..
            Any famous person is in a position to inspire at least a few people.. That doesn’t mean they lose the right to express themselves as they seem fit..
            People who have a problem with that piece of art can close their eyes and choose not to be inspired..
            By the way, its horrible that we still think that these rights are a “gift”.. The constitution is just a bunch of pages of written word. Words that we wrote.. 60 years ago with the limited knowledge we had then and reflecting the social conditions that prevailed in that era.. Things have changed now and we need to change the constitution accordingly..

          • Hey Ashwin,

            “I’m sorry but that’s nonsense..”

            That’s your opinion.

            “A teacher is there to “teach”.. The students are supposed to be learning from them and its mandatory to attend classes.. That’s the reason why teachers shouldn’t teach unproven theories.. or at least state them as unproven if they do expose students to such theories.. That’s the reason education deals in accurate and proven data..”

            Well that’s the whole point, teacher or preacher built knowledge or moral in an individual. If the teacher teaches or the preacher preaches any thing which he/she thinks right then what the whole point of education or religion. M.F.Hussain had all the rights to express his freedom of speech but he don’t have any rights to hurt anybody’s feeling. See you can argue, if you don’t like a painting you can ignore it or close your eyes, but does this solve the problem. I am not being ‘religious’ and I do condemn Denmark drawing cartoon’s of Mohammad. See there’s a difference between art and moral. If Mr. Hussain was so artistic then he would have painted pure (nude) pictures of most of his “art.”
            Listen this argument is never ending. Every person have their own definition of ‘Freedom of Speech.’ For me I should be more responsible of what I say or do when many people look at me for inspiration.

            “A painter/artist etc are private individuals who should be able to express themselves in anyway that doesn’t physically harm another human being.. We are supposed to view/admire/hate their work.. There is no prerogative to learn or be forced to learn anything..”

            Well there can be many definitions of ‘harm.’ If you limit harm to physical damage, it’s upto you. If this was the case then what harm did Mr.Naik did??Did he killed anyone?? You can admire his speech, or laugh at it and move, as you said “There is no prerogative to learn or be forced to learn anything.” Even Mahatma Gandhi took non-violence to hurt (harm) the ’emotional human factor’ in others. As I told, “Freedom of Speech” to each his own.

            “Any famous person is in a position to inspire at least a few people.. That doesn’t mean they lose the right to express themselves as they seem fit..
            People who have a problem with that piece of art can close their eyes and choose not to be inspired..”

            I kept my point about your these statement in above paragraph.

            “By the way, its horrible that we still think that these rights are a “gift”.. The constitution is just a bunch of pages of written word. Words that we wrote.. 60 years ago with the limited knowledge we had then and reflecting the social conditions that prevailed in that era.. Things have changed now and we need to change the constitution accordingly..”

            Indian constitution “gifts” every Indian few fundamental rights. It seems to be horrible for you because you take those for granted, if you explore the laws of different countries in middle east or china, then you can understand this “gift.” The constitution is not bunch of papers, if that’s true then ‘Geeta’ ‘Quaran’ ‘Bible’ are bunch of papers too written long back. I believe that constitution is like a ‘Holy book’ to a country which can be amended. I agree that there are few laws which should be amended but it’s more important to understand it’s value first. If Indian constitution revoke our freedom of speech, then we can’t even express our views on the private platform like ‘Nirmukta.’ Understand and respect our constitution. It’s greater than all the religion put together because it’s not some god’s word, it’s our word.

          • Hey Vineet,

            You are missing the whole point.. If artists thought they had to respect feelings of each and every dumb person who is sensitive.. there would be no change in society.. Art of all kinds is the first level of social activism..
            There is dogma surrounding religions today.. No one can challenge it.. No one can critic it.. This prevents progress in all areas.. Artists bring the fight to the extreme with their out of the box thinking and bring loads of people out of the box along with them.. Depicting nude gods is a great way for religion to lose its “holy cow” status and bring the point out for discussion.. I totally support the Danish making a joke out of Mohammad and absolutely condone M F Husein’s depiction of Indian gods in nude.. If it takes these kinds of humiliating jolts to bring people out of their collective comas then so be it..
            If the constitution revokes any such freedoms.. We, the people, would kick the committee that drafted the new constitution out and tear it apart… And then create a new one.. Its NOT holy..
            Again it doesn’t “gift” us anything.. I hold freedoms and rights more precious than you, evidently, and believe people are born with them despite of citizenship.. The kind of country we create, the kind of people we are decides how many of those rights will be retained after forming of a government.. The ones that remain are written in a constitution so that future generations know that they are important..
            Your hypocritical view of freedom is weird.. You ask for a person to not hurt anyone emotionally.. What if.. I say right now.. that your comments and your weird ideas of freedoms on this forum hurt me “emotionally”.. Should the moderators kick you out..
            That would be highly unfair and wrong.. All you are doing is stating your opinion.. I can reply and argue or just leave it alone..
            And as you can see.. I’m just not going to leave it alone… 🙂
            But don’t worry .. There will be no threats to you from my end.. you wont have to take up a foreign citizenship to get away..
            And that’s because.. however screwed up your POV maybe.. unless its hurting someone “physically” I don’t mind if “I” find it obscene emotionally..

            If that doesn’t clarify the meaning of freedom of speech to you then I don’t know what will..

          • Mr.Ashwin,

            “If artists thought they had to respect feelings of each and every dumb person who is sensitive.. there would be no change in society.. Art of all kinds is the first level of social activism..”

            Your comments are laughable. At one point you say that an artist should not care about what every people think about him then in very next point you include they change the society. So you want people to change and at the same time you don’t care about them.

            Also You think artist change the society??
            That was one of the dumbest thing heard. Then they should be known as revolutionaries and not artist. Artist has a never dying passion for their art. They can influence people to do good or bad that’s the reason I said they should be more responsible. Imagine one poet can influence society to fight for independence and other to kill ‘kafir.’ Both require killing but there’s a big difference in the reason. Atheist like you think anybody doing or saying against religion is correct. It’s hard to imagine the same reaction from you if some artist paint nude(pure) picture of your mother or sister.

            “There is dogma surrounding religions today.. No one can challenge it.. No one can critic it.. This prevents progress in all areas..”

            One more hilarious comment, you say no one ‘can’ challenge or criticize religion, then what are you doing? You say that religion ‘prevent’ progress, I don’t know what ‘progress’ mean to you. Please give some details for underdevelopment in ‘all areas.’

            “Artists bring the fight to the extreme with their out of the box thinking and bring loads of people out of the box along with them.. Depicting nude gods is a great way for religion to lose its “holy cow” status and bring the point out for discussion.. I totally support the Danish making a joke out of Mohammad and absolutely condone M F Husein’s depiction of Indian gods in nude.. If it takes these kinds of humiliating jolts to bring people out of their collective comas then so be it..”

            Oh you mean it’s okay to follow your own religion and paint illicit painting to ‘bring loads of people out of the box.’
            You think that ‘cartooning mohammad’ or ‘painting nude hindu gods’ have added atheists population? Infact it made people more united but also wild.

            Either you are ignorant or so immature to see the point. If you think that ‘Freedom of speech’ is right then why the hell do you have guidelines to comment in this forum. Why don’t you let people say whatever they want and restrict by setting some guidelines?
            One such guideline say that “comments must be respectful and differentiate between ideas and people because People have feelings while ideas don’t. You may use abusive language within ‘limits’, reagarding how you feel about certain ideas. No such abuse will be tolerated in statements addressing people.”

            Can you please tell me if I disapprove to follow the rules of the forum ‘Nirmukta’ (which advocate ‘freedom of speech’) why will I be spammed???
            Why do you ‘limit’ my freedom of speech when you advocate it??

            “If the constitution revokes any such freedoms.. We, the people, would kick the committee that drafted the new constitution out and tear it apart… And then create a new one.. Its NOT holy..”

            Firstly I told constitution is like a holy book to a country. If you think you can tear constitution then I think you need a lawyer and Psychiatrist. It’s easy to type, I challenge you to say that in public. You don’t respect constitution, religion, people’s feelings and still want people to respect you. First think what you are speaking, you will kick drafting committee? You can’t elect a good leader, can’t stop corruption, you don’t want to do anything for society and want to kick drafting committee. Mr.Ashwin, I don’t know who you are but you should first learn to understand and respect everyone and everything, then try to ‘bring loads of people out of the box.’

            “Again it doesn’t “gift” us anything.. I hold freedoms and rights more precious than you, evidently, and believe people are born with them despite of citizenship.. The kind of country we create, the kind of people we are decides how many of those rights will be retained after forming of a government.. The ones that remain are written in a constitution so that future generations know that they are important..”

            Mr.Ashwin you can flaunt your immaturity and ignorance because you are not born in era when slavery was law. You are gifted with your fundamental rights and any government reserve the right to revoke it. For example if you commit any crime, your fundamental rights are seized and if the crime is very big then government have right to take your ‘right to live’ too. So respect your rights and try to protect it.

            “Your hypocritical view of freedom is weird.. You ask for a person to not hurt anyone emotionally.. What if.. I say right now.. that your comments and your weird ideas of freedoms on this forum hurt me “emotionally”.. Should the moderators kick you out..
            That would be highly unfair and wrong.. All you are doing is stating your opinion.. I can reply and argue or just leave it alone..
            And as you can see.. I’m just not going to leave it alone…
            But don’t worry .. There will be no threats to you from my end.. you wont have to take up a foreign citizenship to get away..
            And that’s because.. however screwed up your POV maybe.. unless its hurting someone “physically” I don’t mind if “I” find it obscene emotionally..”

            Mr. Ashwin, there is a huge difference between you and people. Also do you know that ‘constitution’ protect your this right by giving you right to sue someone who hurt you emotionally. Well if I cross my ‘limit’ then moderators can ‘kick me out.’ So if someone crosses his ‘limits’ then the government can kick him out of country. In this case, Hussain ran out of the country fearing from some extremist. If he felt he was right then he should have stand for it. There were whole anti-religion and anti-hindu sect to support him, still it was his decision to run away and accept Qatar citizenship.

            “If that doesn’t clarify the meaning of freedom of speech to you then I don’t know what will..”

            I don’t understand your definition, it’s highly equivocal. You are not clear with your point.

            Mr.Ashwin, people din’t made you to leave country and take some other citizenship only because you are an atheist. There is a huge difference, you can prove your point without crossing your limits.

            You are right that ‘fundamental rights’ is not ‘gifted’ to you because nobody take back their gift. Rights are given to you so that you can protect yourself but it doesn’t mean you should attack using it. You talk about tearing constitution, where you should speak about amending it. Nobody is above constitution in any country, not even a president. And before disrespecting constitution, befriend a good lawyer.

          • Hahah…

            Ok I can see you definitely have a problem with opinions..
            You make things personal.. That’s Ok..
            I won’t attack you with a rambling post..

            But regarding to your ramblings.. It’ll be a waste of time to read your whole comment, but ill try to address a few highlights.. I won’t be quoting you either.. Cause that just increases the size of the comment.. as your posts clearly shows..

            Caring about people (on the whole) is not equal to caring about the dumb founded emotions of a closed minded majority..

            Artists do change societies.. They are the ones who introduce new concepts that social activists take ahead.. Learn more about Lenny Bruce, Bill Hicks, George Carlin and the various movies here and abroad that have influenced the cultures. I’m not your personal google.

            Rallying people to kill others is not art.. Painting nude pictures can be..
            I dont think you know this.. since you don’t seem to have a lot of exposure with the civilized world but people pay big bucks to get their nudes painted by big artists as MF Hussain or Picasso for that matter.. Its a work of “ART”.. Your comments about MY mother or sister.. Well.. That just goes to show what kind of a person you are.. But that’s ok.. My mom actually loves art.. She might not mind him painting one of hers.. There is nothing perverse in that.. Sorry for boxed-in upbringing..

            If you don’t see where and how religious beliefs are becoming a barrier to progress (in any country) then you should probably take off your blind folds, get out of the temple and walk on to the streets.. I don’t have enough place for a thesis here.. Just a comment..

            I don’t think there wasn’t anything abusive in my reply.. The moderators would comment on it.. This is a private forum open to public.. Not a government forum that should allow all opinions.. Its completely on to the moderator’s discretion.. I suggest make good lawyer friends to learn about rights and guidelines.. Maybe that will increase your understanding of the idea of citizenship..
            I have many.. And a share a good line of communication and healthy discussion with each of them..

            About the constitution.. Dr Ambedkar himself said right after drafting the constitution, seeing that it is not what he would have liked because of congress inputs, that this is not a constitution that would solve India’s problems and should be “Burned”..
            He knew what freedom is.. and what slavery was..
            “Dare you to say that in public?” That’s exactly the point.. The majority is filled with people like you.. who hold “things” sacred and would persecute anyone who said anything against your “things”…

            Don’t tell me what to respect and what not.. I don’t give two hoots for your unfounded, uneducated & immature opinions…

            Talk about amending? Do you know anything about legal proceedings.. Re-writing a new constitution will be less time consuming than amending the totally screwed up present one.. Pick up a copy and read through it sometime.. Also go through the number of amendments made to it since 1947.. You’ll see how time consuming it can be.. Many countries have re-written their constitutions since their own independence and have drastically improved their country’s politics.. You have no idea what you are rambling about..

            Get some exposure with the rest of the world that lives outside the box and maybe we can chat again a decade latter when you are grown up..

          • Mr.Ashwin,

            Either you don’t understand my point or you prejudge. I don’t intend to make any personal comment. When I said it’s hard to imagine the same reaction from you if some artist paint nude(pure) picture of your mother or sister and you can see why, you even questioned my character. And the same you will not question M.F.Hussain’s character who painted some crap(‘art’). Well your mother may pay to get painted(glad she is not boxed-in thinker and brought you up in the same way) or for that matter any art lover have right to pay an artist to paint their image. But we are talking about people who don’t want to be painted nude. There is a whole big difference in the argument, I talk about the limitation of an artist and you talk about art. I’ve never said that nude pictures is not artistic, I said the artist should know what to paint. Why do M.F.Hussain seeks permission for painting actress’s nude picture, does he lack imagination?

            I don’t know how generalizing all the believers as ‘closed minded majority’ make you open-minded. BTW what’s your definition of progress? Do you think ‘non-believer’ poor will add to countries progress. I agree there are lot of issues with religion but that doesn’t mean that turning atheist will boom the country. FYI government and anti-nationalists are more responsible for this underdevelopment than any religion.

            You and I agree that artists influence society by influencing ‘social activists.’ That’s why they have to be more responsible.

            As usual you again missed the point when I said that ‘nirmukta’ advocates freedom of speech and still restricts it’s user to use decent and proper language, the same point applies to artists too. They are free to express but should have limitations.

            You want to tear and burn constitution and then make a new one. Then what? do you want people to respect new constitution or let some other sect of people tear and make new constitution? You speak like an arrogant immature person. If tearing or burning constitution is solution to the problems then you will make new constitution every decade. You argue that many countries did it before, if you are in your senses, think, India is the largest democratic country having over a billion number of people. If you are afraid to publicly express your comments because of ‘majority boxed-in up-brought people’ then I pity you. Mr.Ashwin, people in India are free to express and many have made their point in public without fearing from people like ‘me.’ All you need is self-belief. Anyways, that not our point of discussion.

            If you don’t respect the present constitution then how can you respect the new one. I am not denying that there are lot of laws which should be changed and which were written because of various factors but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t respect it. Well in this society there are people like you who can’t stand up and change things but demand it and their are people like Dr. Subramanian Swamy and Anna Hazare who stand up to change the society within constitution limit.

            Finally, I wish you to ‘Get Well Soon’

          • Well Vineet.. I think the reply limit has been reached.. So there is no more reply link provided.. Ill reply to my own post..

            All I see in your post is “arrogant”.. Well it’s a pity that’s the only argument you can make..

            Make belief gods are not real people.. MF doesn’t have to take permissions to paint fragments of our imagination.. Actress are “real” people.. What you call crap is art… You are prejudiced because its a nude of an imaginary character that you pray to.. That’s fine.. That’s your view of it.. Sad..

            Whoever talked about turning atheist? I don’t see that anywhere in my posts.. Bringing people out of the box doesn’t mean giving up religion.. I know many believers who share the same opinion as me of freedoms and tolerance for “all” opinions.. I can understand if its out of your comprehension..

            Responsibility is subjective.. Use another word.. Refer to a thesaurus.. Maybe your point will be clearer.. Right now its not.. Its just nonsensical drivel at this point..

            Forums (private) can have limitations.. Not public forums.. Public forums should allow all view points (however blasphemous).. If they don’t then we as people make them that way.. By whatever means, short of killing others.. Again.. Befriend a few lawyers/activists.. They’ll pass on some knowledge to you..

            India is the largest democracy.. So what.. If “we” the people decide the constitution’s time has come.. We will create a new one.. Do you simply not understand language.. Respecting the laws in the constitution is fine.. But when it comes to replacing it.. that can be done.. and has been done throughout years in various countries around the world.. Again, you don’t seem to know anything about the constitutions so its ludicrous to argue this with you..

            The people who support people/activists and artists like Anna Hazare/MF Hussain and the likes “are” people like me and other well intentioned people..
            You seriously don’t know anything about “democracy” do you.. Its not about 1 person or heroes.. Its about public mobilization without which that one person has no ground to stand on..

            You and I differ greatly in matters of freedom.. Seriously, study politics of other countries, study other cultures, learn a little about the history of the planet rather then just being confined to the Indian culture.. that has been historically and undeniably based in the caste system. Look into global thinking really.. That’s the only way to gain any meaningful perspective..

            I wish you all the luck gaining knowledge and growing up..

  • Hiiii,,,

    “We tell lies when we are afraid, … afraid of what we don’t know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.”

    As far as ur “terror misquotes of Quran” read this:
    http://www.islamnewsroom.com/answers/329-quranmisquotes
    It has answered all ur misquotes

    And as far as ur zakir naik problem,,,,,watch his lectures namely,,,,
    “is terrorism a muslim monopoly” in english.
    “kya aatankwad musalmano ki virasat hai” in urdu/hindi..

    Also,

    Jihad aur dahshatgardi -in islamic perspective..

    All these lectures r available on youtube.
    Watch them..
    Will you…?
    ,,
    As far as osama is concerned that statement was taken from a youtube clip,, not from peace tv or any other reliable source,,,further that statement was made in the year 1998,and not in the year 2007 ,,,,,,prior to the 911…..

    Further,,,
    Have you watched the documentries,,,”loose change”,”painfull deception”,,,,or go the google or youtube and type “building 7″……
    Do u know the facts about “building 7″….?????

    Do u…?

    the question changes to,
    Will u…?
    Will u search the truth.?.

    “The only knowledge that can hurt you is the knowledge you don’t have.”
    .

  • Thanks Ajita for providing some fresh perspective on freedom of expression. Its very meaning is to express freely unpopular, shocking, provocative, of any ideology to any extent. Ultimately society is going to benefit from unpopular thoughts. So instead of classifying the freedom as harmful and offensive, there should be only two categories, namely, falsely provocative and the rest. Simple. For instance, saying Mohammed was a pedophile and gay without any evidence is unacceptable but any criticism of Islam or his opinions to any extent should be accepted.

    • * For instance, saying Mohammed was a pedophile and gay without any evidence is unacceptable*

      Yes, that is unacceptable but even that should be allowed to be said. We do not need no truth police.

  • Ironically, there are plenty of Hindu temples prior to the spread of Vaishnavite morality where goddesses are depicted nude.Moreover the painting was made, exhibited and sold in the 1980s, protesting 30 years later seems idiotic.

  • Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you happen to be a great author.I will make certain to bookmark your blog and will often come back at some point. I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great writing, have a nice afternoon!

  • ” I hold freedoms and rights more precious than you, evidently, and believe people are born with them despite of citizenship”

    I think you might want to change that. You don’t think you can rationalize it: rights being self-evident

    Rights and duties evolve as we understand more and more.

Leave a Comment