Panaji: I have often opined that religion and the interpretation of religion by religious believers are the root cause of conflict around the world.It is sad that the very tenets of religion which were aimed at communal harmony have become the primary reason for communal disharmony.When we stray into the path of religion with a critical mindset and with an intent to mock another religion, we are literally walking into a highly potent minefield.
Peace is what all religions profess. But in the name of religion, some religious believers propagate unrest and hate.
People think it is their right to freedom of speech to be critical about other religions, failing to understand and accept that their opinions do not matter to people of the religion they are critical about.
I am not going to condone the statement of Nupur Sharma which was spoken at the TV debate show, but will add that in recent times, we’ve had many influential people from different faiths, insulting and derogating Hindu religious figures, beliefs and practices.
Nupur Sharma erred, but so have those who derogated and insulted the Hindu religion, Hindu religious figures or Hindu religious practices in the last couple of weeks. Law enforcement must file cases against them too. In my personal opinion, I do not think it is right to mock any religion, religious figure or practices no matter what the cause for provocation is or whether it is an act of propagation. It is simply wrong.
Religious faith is personal. It is nobody’s business to interfere in the wilful acceptance of one’s religious beliefs. Every religion has its intriguing beliefs, unusual practices and charismatic religious figures. To some people, some religious beliefs and practices are absurd, regressive and violators of basic human rights. So be it. If an individual and a religious community believes in it, then people from other religious communities have no locus standi in the issue to be critical of it. Focus on your own religion and work towards reformation in your religion rather than trying to reform other religions and attempt to change their practices.
Religious believers become a social concern and a nation’s burden when they use their religion for acts of proselytizing or when in their aggression to defend insults to their religious figures or beliefs, they target people of other religious faith with violence and hate.
Those demanding to physically harm Nupur Sharma and those organisations who have issued threats are also condemnable. Cases should be registered against such religious fanatics too.On 29May 2022, a local Hyderabad-based political party AIMIM (Inquilab) announced a reward of Rs 1 crore to any Muslim who would kill BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma. The threats were made by the AIMIM (Inquilab) party leader QaviAbbasi. In a video that has now surfaced on social media, Abbasi can be seen allegedly making derogatory remarks about Hinduism and labelling the BJP woman leader as a “prostitute”.Abbasi said, “Whoever commits blasphemy, we announce a bounty of Rs1 crore for killing him/her.” Even a religious extremist party in Pakistan, Tehreek-e-Labbiak (TeL) through its Twitter handle named ‘Labbaikians TV’ announced a cash reward of Pakistani Rupees 50 lakh, roughly around 19.5 lakh in Indian Rupees, to anyone who would behead Nupur for allegedly committing “blasphemy”. They tweeted: “Nupur Sharma beheader will be given Rs 5 million reward -Labbaikians TV.” The handle is run by supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan.
Nupur Sharma has apologised for her statement and the BJP has suspended her for her comment from the party. The threats and hate messages to her need to stop. After Nupur Sharma’s apology, harm coming to her or her family is an attack on humanity and not an attack in defence of a religious figure or a religious belief.
I oppose anyone insulting any religious figures, beliefs or practices.
There is no right or wrong in a religion-related conflagration. No views or logic would matter to religious groups on either side of the spectrum. But what is certain is that it is a highly potent detonator of conflict and conflict-related violence.Peace is not the absence of conflict; it is absence of violence in times of conflict, according Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung.
The concept of religion was to unite people under a common belief system, but that common unified belief must not spell doom from the rest of humanity who do not believe in a particular religious belief. Neither does one religion give another the right to derogate another religion; because it will only denigrate one’s own religion.You can walk the path of God only when you have respect for humanity and human life because the real reflection of God is a human being. Therefore, put humanity first, then religion!
The writer is Founder & Editor-in-Chief GoaChronicle.com