|Nihangs, Lakhbir Singh|
By Ajit Singh *
A Dalit man, Lakhbir Singh, was allegedly beaten and lynched by Nihang Sikhs near the peasant protest area in Haryana state. It has been alleged that he committed blasphemy by desecrating the holy book of Guru Granth Sahib.
The group sees itself as a self-appointed guardian to protect their religion. In 2016, she played a predominant role, under whose influence the Akali-BJP government in Punjab drafted the Blasphemy Law, which provided criminal provisions for the Sacrilege of the Sikhs’ Holy Book. The law was later rejected by the center on the grounds that all religions should be treated equally.
Cynical juggernauts always find refuge in all political parties, regardless of their ideological spectrum. In 2018, Amarinder Singh’s government in Punjab attempted to pass a law requiring life imprisonment for those who violate the holy books of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.
The reach of blasphemy laws and the emergence of extrajudicial radical entities in democracies around the world are known to serve their false pride. In a pluralistic and multiethnic society, people shy away from discussing the sensitive issue of blasphemy in the name of maintaining religious tolerance and peace in society. Our dead silence has made the wound worse and given space for divisive leaders to ride the wave of local politics.
In many countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, blasphemy is a capital crime, and this notoriously draconian law has become a tool to suppress dissenting opinions against the political and military establishment.
A university professor in Pakistan, Junaid Hafeez, was arrested in 2013 on charges of defamation of Islam and the publication of material viewed as derogatory to the Prophet. He remained in solitary confinement for eight years, awaiting his death, which was awarded to him by a Multan district court in 2019.
Soheil Arabi, a political activist in Iran, was jailed that same year on two charges of harsh criticism of the Islamic Republic and insulting the Prophet on social media. In 2017 he won the prestigious Reporters Without Borders award in the journalism category. He was commended for protesting in a Gandh fashion by organizing hunger strikes to highlight the poor living conditions of the prisoners and the deprivation of all medical treatment.
Because of his outspoken criticism of the theocratic regime, new invented cases were opened against him, including propaganda activities against the government and the alarming of public opinion.
Intolerance in Europe
Western democracies are regarded as pioneers of liberal ideas in which individual freedom and freedom of expression are placed on the highest pedestal. Last year, social science teacher Samuel Patty was faintheartedly beheaded by a Chechen immigrant in France for drawing a cartoon of Mohammad originally published in 2011 by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, including the magazine’s editor, were killed by terrorists in 2015 shot. Another thing is that the French Constitution does not set any limits on the insult to a religion, its characters and symbols.
The countries that have repeatedly given refuge to victims of blasphemy charges in Islamic countries are now looking increasingly conservative. Some politicians, even those left of center, are advocating some sort of blasphemy law to aid the gullible minorities and gain their support in elections.
Take the UK, for example, where Labor MP and Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion, Naz Shah, campaigned for 10 years in prison for those who vandalize or destroy religious cartoons. In Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau reiterated that freedom of expression is not limitless.
According to the report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (Legislation Fact Sheet on Blasphemy), around 20 percent of European countries officially criminalize blasphemy or religious insult. The call for repressive laws in the name of protecting religious sentiments and keeping religious minorities safe is a deeply flawed argument.
|MF Husain, Salman Rushdie|
A recent survey by Ifop shows that 57 percent of Muslims under the age of 25 prefer to incorporate Sharia law into the French legal system. Will the legislature in Europe be ready to implement those parts of the same Islamic law that condemn apostasy to death, or at least severe public and private censure?
Redefining the concept of secularism to keep everyone on the boat happy will destroy years of cultural advancement that Europe has made, which dates back to the Renaissance when people began to question the unscientific rituals and dogmas of Christianity to deliver.
Pandering in India
Appeasement policies in India are just as destructive and dangerous as polarization policies. In 1989 India became the first non-Muslim country to ban Salman Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses”. In 2006, artist MF Husain suffered a similar fate when he was forced to leave India due to the depiction of Hindu goddesses in his seemingly obscure paintings.
Any demand for blasphemy laws in India will only act as a catalyst to turn India into an ultra-Orthodox state engulfed by the rule of endless terror. Democracy will die the day we restrict freedom of expression. This can best be explained in a quote from Osho, where he argued about society’s destruction of creative minds and individuality, which favors machines like obedience, and discourages the rebellious nature of man.
“Humanity is only really born on the day when an individual is respected in his rebellion. Humanity is still not born, it is still in the womb. What you see as humanity is just a very hocus-pocus phenomenon”, he said.
* Hobby writer, graduate in economics, second degree in the B Ed program