Editor arrested for 'outraging Muslims'

92 posts / 0 new
Last post
Snuckles
Editor arrested for 'outraging Muslims'

Quote:
The editor and publisher of a major Indian newspaper have been arrested for "hurting the religious feelings" of Muslims after they reprinted an article from The Independent. Ravindra Kumar and Anand Sinha, the editor and publisher of the Kolkata-based English daily The Statesman, appeared in court yesterday charged under section 295A of the Indian Penal Code which forbids "deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings".

Sections of central Kolkata have been paralysed by protests for much of the past week after The Statesman republished an article by The Independent's columnist Johann Hari. Titled "Why should I respect oppressive religions?", the piece was originally printed in The Independent on 28 January. In it, Hari said he believed the right to criticise any religion was being eroded around the world.

The Statesman, a highly respected liberal English-language daily, reprinted the article on 5 February, causing a major backlash among a small group of Muslims who felt that the piece slighted the Prophet Mohamed and insulted their religion. Peaceful protests were held outside The Statesman's offices at the weekend but by Monday, demonstrations had turned violent. Angry crowds began blocking roads, attacking police and calling for the arrest of the article's author and the newspaper's publisher and editor. On Monday and Tuesday police used baton charges to try to disperse crowds and more than 70 protesters were arrested.

 

Read it [url=http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/editor-arrested-for-outragi....

 

The Johann Hari [url=http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-har... that started it all.

 

Hari [url=http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-har... to his guns[/url].

Unionist
Kindrid

Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.

Sven Sven's picture

Unionist wrote:
[url=109">http://rabble.ca/babble/international-news-and-politics/why-should-i-res... babble posts triggered by this article.[/url]

The 109th post on that thread represents the very embodiment of buzzkill.  It was an interesting, vibrant thread...that crashed suddenly into the brick wall of the 109th post.

I really wish we'd reconsider the policy of killing threads in that manner. 

_______________________________________

Eleutherophobics of the World...Unite!!!

Kindrid

Now now M. Spector. While I think it is bad that India arrests someone for just voicing an opinion it is a bit over the top to call the nation fascist.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture
Merowe

Too much going on behind the scenes on this one for me to call it. While the contentious article seems fairminded and plays well among a secular western audience, we mustn't forget India's tragic and ongoing history of chilling violence against religious minorities. There is a lot of bad blood between Hindu and Muslim in some regions and I'm not sure how clever it is to wade in with a case for European secular humanism. I mean, I'm a fan, but one has to consider the local context. And in India - remember Ayodya? - one has to tread very carefully indeed around inflamed religious sensibilities. Indian Muslims have reason to be sensitive and I would give them the benefit of the doubt on this one. So I have to wonder what the author was up to. Probably nothing, but perhaps he didn't properly consider how his piece would be spun. At the very least he should have made reference to the more unsavory aspects of Hindu fundamentalism instead of singling out one of the more reprehensible Muslim nations for his example. Why the kid gloves around the nations majority religion? This lack of balance is insensitive to say the least.

Ghislaine

Merowe wrote:
one has to tread very carefully indeed around inflamed religious sensibilities.

No, one has to stick to their principles regardless of how "inflamed" some religious nutbars may get at any criticism of mythical and disproven beliefs used to validate oppressive behaviour. Writing in a moral and confident manner is not to blame for someone else's irrational "inflamation." 

 

Merowe wrote:
Indian Muslims have reason to be sensitive and I would give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Which Indian Muslims would you give the benefit of the doubt? I am quite certain they are not a homogenous group with identical opinions on the issue of free speech and benign articles pointing out truth. You know, some of them may even be oppressed by their own religion and welcome criticism in this vein!

Unionist

Yeah, Merowe, I fully agree with your post. An article emphasizing the ills of Islam while glossing over the murderous evil of Hindu chauvinism isn't much different, in this context, from certain radio broadcasts in Rwanda in 1994. While I personally consider all religion to be ultimately divisive and deceptive, if not hateful, that doesn't justify incitement to communal riots, nor wilful blindness. And anyone who criticizes Islam without (for example) mentioning that the pope is anti-human and that Judaism is homophobic, misogynistic, and sectarian - is a suspicious character in my book.

Ghislaine

Unionist wrote:
Yeah, Merowe, I fully agree with your post. An article emphasizing the ills of Islam while glossing over the murderous evil of Hindu chauvinism isn't much different, in this context, from certain radio broadcasts in Rwanda in 1994. While I personally consider all religion to be ultimately divisive and deceptive, if not hateful, that doesn't justify incitement to communal riots, nor wilful blindness. And anyone who criticizes Islam without (for example) mentioning that the pope is anti-human and that Judaism is homophobic, misogynistic, and sectarian - is a suspicious character in my book.

Have you read the article? For one, he is speaking specifically of the following:

Quote:

Starting in 1999, a coalition of Islamist tyrants, led by Saudi Arabia, demanded the rules be rewritten. The demand for everyone to be able to think and speak freely failed to "respect" the "unique sensitivities" of the religious, they decided – so they issued an alternative Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. It insisted that you can only speak within "the limits set by the shariah [law]. It is not permitted to spread falsehood or disseminate that which involves encouraging abomination or forsaking the Islamic community". 

When the subject is an initiative started by an Islamic group and you are speaking of the "Islamic Declaration of Human Rights", there is a duty to mention other religions at the risk of being arrested?

Either way, he does go one to say this:

Quote:

The declaration makes it clear there is no equality for women, gays, non-Muslims, or apostates. It has been backed by the Vatican and a bevy of Christian fundamentalists. 

And this:

Quote:

I don't respect the idea that the West Bank was handed to Jews by God and the Palestinians should be bombed or bullied into surrendering it. I don't respect the idea that we may have lived before as goats, and could live again as woodlice. This is not because of "prejudice" or "ignorance", but because there is no evidence for these claims. They belong to the childhood of our species, and will in time look as preposterous as believing in Zeus or Thor or Baal.  

Unionist

I'm not talking about the article in the abstract. I'm talking about printing it in some regions of India. It's about context. Like shouting "Fire!" In a crowded theatre.

Ghislaine

Oh right - so an article explaining the importance of secularism and free speech has no place in some regions. What it is about the people in those regions that you don't trust them with rational thought? Your comments just showed the danger of the efforts at the UN that Hari speaks about. 

Some people and places just cannot handle free speech!

(and please research the history of the fire in a crowded theater statement)

Ze

Right now, in India, there is surging tension that could flare into violence between Hindus and Muslims. The Mumbai bombings and the massacres of Muslim minorities are recent memories of felt injury to each community. The article's fine, and I would neither ban it nor arrest anyone for printing it. But an "Islam is bad" article in that context will be read differently than it was in London, where it's meant to be a polemic in their current cultural wars. Context does matter, and shouting free-speech absolutist slogans doesn't change the way articles like this will be received. What's the solution? I don't know, but denying context doesn't seem very useful to me.

al-Qa'bong

Quote:
But an "Islam is bad" article in that context will be read differently than it was in London, where it's meant to be a polemic in their current cultural wars.

 

Further to that, in the context of babble, a few posters have a history of singing in the "Islam is bad" chorus, which raises doubts as to their credibility in discussions about religion.

Unionist

I agree, al-Qa'bong. Islam is bad (in my personal opinion), as are the rest of the instruments (Judaism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Baptism, etc.) in the communal hate-your-neighbour and to-hell-with-science and pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die and this-land-is-my-land-Yahweh/Allah/Jesus-promised-it-to-me-so-now-get-out chorus. But Islamophobia is the enemy in today's world. Likewise, as I have posted ad nauseam, any attempt in the U.N. to legislate "respect" for religion(s) must be crushed. If people feel offended, they should suck it up. But that doesn't excuse hate speech or "innocent" incitement to violence either.

Stockholm

Since when is "Islamophobia" THE enemy in today's world? Whatever happened to homophobia, misogyny, anti-Black racism, anti-semitism, environmental degradation, poverty and starvation, militarism etc... I wasn't aware that "Islamaphobia" is now at the tippity-top of the heirarchy of oppression and that nothing else matters.

 For all whining about islamophobia, anti-semitism, anti-Hinduism, anti-Catholicism etc... the people who are probably most discriminated against of all are those of us to be smart enough to reject ALL religions and to be proudly atheist!

Unionist

You are very funny.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Stockholm wrote:

Since when is "Islamophobia" THE enemy in today's world? Whatever happened to homophobia, misogyny, anti-Black racism, anti-semitism, environmental degradation, poverty and starvation, militarism etc... I wasn't aware that "Islamaphobia" is now at the tippity-top of the heirarchy of oppression and that nothing else matters.

When it comes to reliigion in the West, Islamophobia is the main target.

Quote:
 For all whining about islamophobia, anti-semitism, anti-Hinduism, anti-Catholicism etc... the people who are probably most discriminated against of all are those of us to be smart enough to reject ALL religions and to be proudly atheist!

Nice diversion tactic.  Are you sure your neighbor is more likely to discriminate against you than his Islamic neighbor?

al-Qa'bong

 

It appears to me that the big battalions today are being arrayed against Muslims, which makes any whimpering about such dangers as "anti-Catholicism" seem rather disengenuous.

Quote:
I agree, al-Qa'bong. Islam is bad (in my personal opinion), as are the rest of the instruments (Judaism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Baptism, etc.) in the communal hate-your-neighbour and to-hell-with-science and pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die and this-land-is-my-land-Yahweh/Allah/Jesus-promised-it-to-me-so-now-get-out chorus.

I was thinking more of those who sing only one note.

Unionist

al-Qa'bong wrote:

I was thinking more of those who sing only one note.

Laughing

I know. I just didn't want anyone to think I had gone soft on religion. Gotta protect my reputation.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Quote:
For one, he is speaking specifically of the following:Quote:

Starting in 1999, a coalition of Islamist tyrants, led by Saudi Arabia, demanded the rules be rewritten. The demand for everyone to be able to think and speak freely failed to "respect" the "unique sensitivities" of the religious, they decided – so they issued an alternative Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. It insisted that you can only speak within "the limits set by the shariah [law]. It is not permitted to spread falsehood or disseminate that which involves encouraging abomination or forsaking the Islamic community".

Yeah, ain't it awful.

So the argument is that there is a religious movement, fundamentalist in outlook, and with powerful political and financial backers, seeking to make social and political change that would force others to adopt their particular moral, cultural,  and legal norms. Can you imagine?

HERE is another example of the very same phenomenom. And HERE is yet another.It seems it is everywhere.

We people, we're a stupid lot. The guy with the gun and the agenda demands we look over there at those people who threaten us with their fundamentalism and extreme views when what were looking at may as well be our own reflection.

Islamic fundamentalism is on the rise. All fundamentalism is on the rise. We are being led into camps, without even recognizing it, to wage global and eventually regional war against each other as we exhaust the remainder of the planet's resources.

Here is another article well worth reading: The ‘Islamist’ who wasn’t

Fundamentalism, in and of itself, is not really the problem. The problem is our collective and individual failure at critical thinking, even when information abounds freely, and the willingness to blindly follow anyone who will lead so long as he (it is almost always a he) can clearly identify the enemy - and preferably an enemy who is poor, weak, and lives atop a treasure of resources;  different skin tones and strange cultures are bonuses. 

 

Unionist

Amen to that whole post, FM.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Frustrated Mess wrote:

So the argument is that there is a religious movement, fundamentalist in outlook, and with powerful political and financial backers, seeking to make social and political change that would force others to adopt their particular moral, cultural,  and legal norms. Can you imagine?

HERE is another example of the very same phenomenom. And HERE is yet another.It seems it is everywhere.

Indeed it is. Should we not be concerned?

Quote:
We people, we're a stupid lot. The guy with the gun and the agenda demands we look over there at those people who threaten us with their fundamentalism and extreme views when what were looking at may as well be our own reflection.

When I look at religious fundamentalists I don't see my own reflection. Do you see yours?

Quote:
Fundamentalism, in and of itself, is not really the problem. The problem is our collective and individual failure at critical thinking...

And yet when we apply critical thinking to religious fundamentalism we are told we are promoting intolerance. 

Unionist

Your definition of "religious fundamentalism" is ... what, M. Spector?

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Quote:
When I look at religious fundamentalists I don't see my own reflection. Do you see yours?

I see all of us. I know you are a believer in some sort of individualism, M., but we live in societies and we are subject to group dynamics and behaviour. If our society goes off a cliff, it doesn't matter that you are smarter and more sophisticated than the rest of us, you go too. 

Quote:
And yet when we apply critical thinking to religious fundamentalism we are told we are promoting intolerance.

You missed what I am arguing, I think. When we criticize a particular fundamentalism we play into the hands of another fundamentalism. When I sit back as an observer, I recognize that the most feverish attacks against Islamic fundamentalists, as one example,  arises most often from other fundamentalists even as all fundamentalists will support the same general social causes (such as opposition to same sex marriage as one easy and obvious example).

If we apply critical thinking to all fundamentalism, then, yes, we will be accused of intolerance. But we can justify an intolerance of all religious extremism without resort to targeting specific faith groups  and supporting someone else's agenda.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Frustrated Mess wrote:

If we apply critical thinking to all fundamentalism, then, yes, we will be accused of intolerance.

But by each other?

Quote:
But we can justify an intolerance of all religious extremism without resort to targeting specific faith groups  and supporting someone else's agenda.

Do you want us to apply critical thinking to religious extremism in general, without referring to, or taking a position on, particular instances of it?

Was Johann Hari wrong to criticize the movement against "defamation of religion"  because it is a movement entirely backed by reactionary Islam? Would it be OK to criticize it if it were instead a project of reactionary Roman Catholicism?

Unionist

M. Spector wrote:
[

Was Johann Hari wrong to criticize the movement against "defamation of religion"  because it is a movement entirely backed by reactionary Islam? Would it be OK to criticize it if it were instead a project of reactionary Roman Catholicism?

That's a convoluted question. The movement against "defamation of religion" is dangerous and reactionary and deserves to be criticized. That has nothing to do with how or whether Johann Hari criticizes it or not. And it has still less to do with the topic of this thread, which is about the specificity of publishing such an article in such a context. Johann Hari's thesis was the subject of [url=another">http://rabble.ca/babble/international-news-and-politics/why-should-i-res... thread[/url]. One can attack religion, whether "fundamentalist" (whatever that prejudicial and idiotic term might mean) or not, while still condemning Islamophobia and the incitement of hatred and communal strife.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Unionist wrote:
The movement against "defamation of religion" is dangerous and reactionary and deserves to be criticized. That has nothing to do with how or whether Johann Hari criticizes it or not.

If it deserves to be criticized, surely that has everything to do with whether Hari criticizes it or not.

And if it deserves to be criticized in a London newspaper, it deserves to be criticized in the Kolkata Statesman.

Quote:
One can attack religion, whether "fundamentalist" (whatever that prejudicial and idiotic term might mean) or not, while still condemning Islamophobia and the incitement of hatred and communal strife.

Indeed one can, and one does. But that's not the topic of this thread either.

And "fundamentalist" was the term FM used. That's the only reason I used it. I will accept whatever his definition of the term is.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

"Religious fundamentalism" to me is the dogmatics who believe and support a religious law or social order that ought to be imposed on all society. Interestingly, Wikipedia describes it as a modern and American term: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamentalism

 

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Frustrated Mess wrote:

I support Hari's right to write what he wants and deplore the arrests. Hari was critical of not only Islam in the article he wrote for a Western newspaper.  But in the context of reprinting the article in India,  a nation wracked by communal and religious violence often pitting Hindus against Muslims, one can see the reprinting could have been directed at demonizing a particular religion rather than "all religion" as Hari intended.

It was the same article, was it not? Would you practice selective censorship by printing the article in England (and puttting it on the world wide web, by the way!) but not in Kolkata? Is Kolkata to be designated a religious-criticism-free zone? Is this not exactly what Hari's article was intended to condemn?

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Quote:
But by each other?

By fundamentalists.

 

Quote:
Was Johann Hari wrong to criticize the movement against "defamation of religion"  because it is a movement entirely backed by reactionary Islam? Would it be OK to criticize it if it were instead a project of reactionary Roman Catholicism?

But it is and has been. In some states, today, it is illegal to express criticism of food processing ( http://www.rense.com/health/milk.htm ) - not religious but still a good example of another form of fundamentalism - market fundamentalism.

One of the links I posted above is an example of the religious rights efforts to promote Intelligent Design over science.  Another, on Jewish fundamentalism, begins with the sentence: "The fundamentalist view is that there is a single truth ... and that this truth is not limited to the private domain but can and should be imposed on the public square."

I support Hari's right to write what he wants and deplore the arrests. Hari was critical of not only Islam in the article he wrote for a Western newspaper.  But in the context of reprinting the article in India,  a nation wracked by communal and religious violence often pitting Hindus against Muslims, one can see the reprinting could have been directed at demonizing a particular religion rather than "all religion" as Hari intended. As well, my response was prompted by the ensuing discussion and not only the article linked in the OP. For full disclosure, I think Hari wrote a great article. But context gives language meaning.

 

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

I don't support the arrests. I do suggest it would not have been reprinted had Islam not been prominently mentioned by Hari but instead it was Hinduism (or another lesser established Indian faith such as Dutch Reformed). But in any case,  my comments have been in response to efforts to move the focus to a particular brand of religious fundamentalism as that, to me, serves an entirely different agenda.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Frustrated Mess wrote:
I do suggest it would not have been reprinted had Islam not been prominently mentioned by Hari but instead it was Hinduism (or another lesser established Indian faith such as Dutch Reformed).

I don't think you have any evidence for that assertion. And by making it, you are in effect saying that the article should not have been made available to readers in Kolkata. I could not disagree more.  

Quote:
But in any case,  my comments have been in response to efforts to move the focus to a particular brand of religious fundamentalism as that, to me, serves an entirely different agenda.

Again, it appears to me that you think criticism of religious fundamentalism is fine in general, but one should not criticize a "particular brand" of religious fundamentalism - even on an occasion when it rears its ugly head.

Ze

Censorship? Who said anything about censorship? 

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Quote:
I don't think you have any evidence for that assertion.

That's true. But I can make observations and arrive at my own conclusions. India has a history of communal violence between Hindus and Muslims. Kolkata has seen such violence. The newspaper surely knows that history and chose to publish an article that it new could be inflammatory. 

 

Quote:
And by making it, you are in effect saying that the article should not have been made available to readers in Kolkata. I could not disagree more. 

You're making strawmen. I said no such thing, not even in effect. I said the newspaper ran the article because it focuses on Islamic fundamentalism and the newspaper would have been far less interested in the article if it didn't. That is quite different than saying that they should not have published it at all. I wonder though, did they publish it with any commentary given the reality of communal violence in India? For example, was there room for comment from an Islamic resident of Kolkata who suffered from communal violence who might have a deep support for the UN declaration? I do suggest the newspaper had choices, but that doesn't imply they should not have made any one of them or all of them.

 

Quote:

Again, it appears to me that you think criticism of religious fundamentalism is fine in general, but one should not criticize a "particular brand" of religious fundamentalism - even on an occasion when it rears its ugly head.

No, my issue is when the focus becomes a monopoly. I have already told you I liked the Hari article, but not without criticism. 

According to Hari, the UN, is considering "an alternative Islamic Declaration of Human Rights" because the Saudis and a bunch of Islamic tyrnats demand it. Really? If they are that powerful why is Palestine still occupied?

Hari tells us, almost as an aside, "It (the Saudi proposal) has been backed by the Vatican and a bevy of Christian fundamentalists."

Now maybe I'm just naive, and maybe I've been jaded by choosing to look beyond the smoke and mirrors to the money trail, but I bet if the Vatican and that "bevy of Christian fundementalists" took away support for Saudi proposals that also happen to lay a platform of support for their own misogynistic and homophobic wet dreams, we wouldn't even be talking about this as the proposal wouldn't have a prayer.

So, my question back to you would be, why are we wasting breath on Islamic fundamentalism when our own fundamentalists are providing the grease for the mullahs to cook the social goose?

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Frustrated Mess wrote:

The newspaper surely knows that history and chose to publish an article that it new could be inflammatory....

I said the newspaper ran the article because it focuses on Islamic fundamentalism and the newspaper would have been far less interested in the article if it didn't. That is quite different than saying that they should not have published it at all....

I do suggest the newspaper had choices, but that doesn't imply they should not have made any one of them or all of them.

Well, don't be coy - Which is it? Do you agree or disagree with the Indian newspaper's decision to publish the article?

Your entire position is based on assumptions and suppositions about what goes on in the minds of others - be they writers, newspaper editors, the UN, the Vatican, etc. It is a house of cards.

I prefer to deal with actual known evidence.

And your comment about "wasting breath on Islamic fundamentalism" provides further evidence to support my conclusion that your condemnation of religious fundamentalism in general is not nearly as even-handed as you would like to think.

And to suggest that the Catholic Church is the real force behind the UN move to outlaw "defamation of religions" requires ignoring a great deal of known evidence and replacing it with fantasy and speculation.

Unionist

Everyone has a right to condemn religion (or a particular religion) and publish their views. People who riot and destroy lives and property in response, are doing a very bad thing. People who publish articles (or cartoons) that they reasonably know will have such a consequence are acting irresponsibly, though whether it is criminal or not will depend on the laws of the country, the context, the motive, etc.

Having said that, I have difficulty with looking down my nose at violations of "human rights" (such as freedom of the press) in a foreign country which continues to suffer the ravages of communal slaughter. I prefer to comment on protection of such rights in my own country. For example, when some publicly-funded Catholic school boards banned The Golden Compass from their schools' shelves, no one was arrested. Shame.

Stockholm

India is a good example of how destructive ALL religions are. For all the iniquities of Muslim and Christian fundamentalism - India is plagued by Hindu fundamentalism which is every bit as horrific what with its outrageous caste system (i.e. Brahmin's believing that they need to undergo a three day cleansing process if their shadow touches the shadow of an "untouchable".)

My rule of thumb is that any religion that ties to place any restrictions of any kind of people diets or sex lives deserves to be flushed down a toilet!!! Instead of arresting people for attacking fundamentalism - why don't we make it illegal to prosletyze and illegal to ever tell people what to eat or who they are allowed to have sex with in the name of religion and also make it illegal to claim that your religion is the only true and illegal to ever malign any non-believers. I would just say - you can practise any religion you want as long as you do it in private and never try to impose your views on anyone else. 

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Quote:

Well, don't be coy - Which is it? Do you agree or disagree with the Indian newspaper's decision to publish the article?

What Unionist said.  I think the newspaper knew the article would result in protests and eventually even violence but published anyway. But I don't think it is my place to tell them not to publish. The decision and the consequences are theirs to live with. And while I am speculating on what they knew when they decided to publish, are you conversely speculating that they possibly had no idea there would be a backlash? Or is it your position that we would require testimony to arrive at such a conclusion? I would argue an organ devoted to collecting and dessiminating information within a community and staffed by people who live within that community are well aware of the histiory of the communal violence and the risks inherent in publish an article overtly critical of one sensitive group that has been subject to communal violence. 

 

Quote:

And your comment about "wasting breath on Islamic fundamentalism" provides further evidence to support my conclusion that your condemnation of religious fundamentalism in general is not nearly as even-handed as you would like to think.

And to suggest that the Catholic Church is the real force behind the UN move to outlaw "defamation of religions" requires ignoring a great deal of known evidence and replacing it with fantasy and speculation.


You are misrepresenting what I said. I didn't say the Catholic Church is the real force behind it. I suggested, and I believe, if the Catholic Church and US evangelicals were not prepared to offer their backing it wouldn't be an issue. That is quite different.

And you seem to keep missing my point. The direction of readers of Hari, even if it is not Hari's purpose, and some contributors to these threads, is to seize on Islamic fundamentalism as the whole threat as though other forms of fundamentalism do not exist or do not provide an equal and even more direct threat. 

So to turn the tables, would you agree it is fair and effective to turn an article like Hari's into an attack on Islamic fundamentalism rather than the political efforts of Saudi Arabia supported by some Western religious (and political)  institutions to roll back or alter the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

And from what I have read, hasn't the US signed on to support the Saudi Proposal?

I ask that again because the issue would have no traction without Western support. 

 

 

 

Ze

I believe the Vatican and all Western governments oppose that UN declaration on not defaming [all] religions, quite strongly. 

I don't think for a second that anyone here has suggested the Statesman not be permitted to publish Hari's article.  The word "censorship" is a total red herring. But some are saying the Statesman should consider the predictable  consequences of its actions. As should everyone, really. Free speech absolutism seems to me to be a form of fundamentalism itself, which suits Ezra Levant well enough but look odd here.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Frustrated Mess wrote:
Quote:

I think the newspaper knew the article would result in protests and eventually even violence but published anyway. But I don't think it is my place to tell them not to publish. The decision and the consequences are theirs to live with.

I disagree with you and Unionist that public criticism of religious fundamentalism ought to be subject to a form of self-censorship that weighs the possible adverse consequences, and that failure to exercise the appropriate degree of self-censorship rightly deserves those adverse consequences. "You are welcome to say whatever you like as long as you are prepared to run the risk of being beaten, killed, or thrown in jail as a consequence - your choice" is not my idea of freedom of speech.

FM wrote:
And while I am speculating on what they knew when they decided to publish, are you conversely speculating that they possibly had no idea there would be a backlash? Or is it your position that we would require testimony to arrive at such a conclusion? I would argue an organ devoted to collecting and dessiminating information within a community and staffed by people who live within that community are well aware of the histiory of the communal violence and the risks inherent in publish an article overtly critical of one sensitive group that has been subject to communal violence.

And, again, the only relevance of your speculation about what went on in the mind of the editor, is to assess whether he exercised the appropriate degree of self-censorship. As I said above, I reject that. Of course there are risks inherent in free speech, but that doesn't mean we shrug our shoulders and look the other way when those risks materialize.

I try not to judge people's actions solely on the basis of their presumed, imputed, or even self-proclaimed motives and intentions. Bad things can be done with the best of intentions, and vice versa.

FM wrote:
spector wrote:
And to suggest that the Catholic Church is the real force behind the UN move to outlaw "defamation of religions" requires ignoring a great deal of known evidence and replacing it with fantasy and speculation.

You are misrepresenting what I said. I didn't say the Catholic Church is the real force behind it. I suggested, and I believe, if the Catholic Church and US evangelicals were not prepared to offer their backing it wouldn't be an issue. That is quite different.

Depends what you mean by "it wouldn't be an issue". You said if the Catholics and Evangelicals took away their support for the UN initiative on defamation of religion, it [i.e. the initiative] "wouldn't have a prayer". That can only mean that support for the initiative by Islam alone would not have been sufficient to get the UN on board. How is that different from saying that the real force behind the initiative was provided by the Catholics and the Evangelicals?

FM wrote:
And you seem to keep missing my point. The direction of readers of Hari, even if it is not Hari's purpose, and some contributors to these threads, is to seize on Islamic fundamentalism as the whole threat as though other forms of fundamentalism do not exist or do not provide an equal and even more direct threat.

People will draw the conclusions they want to draw. I read Hari's article, and it didn't make me forget about Protestant evangelicals and Catholics and Hindu bigots. But granting for the moment that you actually have a point, what are we to conclude from it? That the article should not have been published in Kolkata or in London (and on the web)? That we ought to approve of the editor's arrest and the street protests in Kolkata?

FM wrote:
So to turn the tables, would you agree it is fair and effective to turn an article like Hari's into an attack on Islamic fundamentalism rather than the political efforts of Saudi Arabia supported by some Western religious (and political) institutions to roll back or alter the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Hari's article is what it is, and says what it says. Nobody rewrote it or "turned it into" something different. It was the same article in the Kolkata Statesman as the one you thought was a "great article" when it appeared in the UK's Independent. The only thing that changed is that more people got a chance to read it. I think it's always a good thing when more people get a chance to read great articles.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

That's very nice, but it seems in answering the question I didn't ask, you didn't answer the question I did ask. Here it is again: would you agree it is fair and effective to turn an article like Hari's into an attack on Islamic fundamentalism rather than the political efforts of Saudi Arabia supported by some Western religious (and political) institutions to roll back or alter the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

BTW, have you read the Cairo Declaration? Here it is: http://www.oicun.org/articles/54/1/Cairo-Declaration-on-Human-Rights-in-...

I think there is a lot in there that is supported by religions right here in Canada.

Quote:
ARTICLE 5:

(a) The family is the foundation of society, and marriage is the basis of its formation. Men and women have the right to marriage, and no restrictions stemming from race, color or nationality shall prevent them from enjoying this right.

(b) Society and the State shall remove all obstacles to marriage and shall facilitate marital procedure. They shall ensure family protection and welfare.

The declaration is nothing more or less than what some Christian fundamentalists are demanding for the US and what some of our own fundamentalists would like to see here. 

 

 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Frustrated Mess wrote:

That's very nice, but it seems in answering the question I didn't ask, you didn't answer the question I did ask. Here it is again: would you agree it is fair and effective to turn an article like Hari's into an attack on Islamic fundamentalism rather than the political efforts of Saudi Arabia supported by some Western religious (and political) institutions to roll back or alter the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Kind of a rhetorical question, isn't it? OK, I'll answer NO.

But then I have to point out (again!) that nobody "turned" the article from being a "great article" into one that was an unfair attack on Islamic fundamentalism. So it's not only a rhetorical, but a hypothetical question.

FM wrote:

The declaration is nothing more or less than what some Christian fundamentalists are demanding for the US and what some of our own fundamentalists would like to see here.

High praise indeed! Is that supposed to make me look more favourably upon the Cairo Declaration? 

Ghislaine

Ze wrote:

I believe the Vatican and all Western governments oppose that UN declaration on not defaming [all] religions, quite strongly.

Hari's article showed that that is not true. Did you read it?

Ze wrote:

I don't think for a second that anyone here has suggested the Statesman not be permitted to publish Hari's article.  The word "censorship" is a total red herring. But some are saying the Statesman should consider the predictable  consequences of its actions. As should everyone, really.

 

This thread is about the arrest of an Newspaper editor for allegedly outraging a religious group. If that is not a form of censorship, what would you consider censorship? If a particular religious group chooses to be "outraged" either peacefully or violently at (in this case quite rational) words on a piece of paper, that is their choice. The idea that the printing of words "causes" outrageous violence and that writers need to consider the "context" (read: religious nutbars who don't have enough self-control to respond with words) is absolutely ridiculous. Please note that we have criminal law that cover clear incitements to violence, which carry penalties for violations.I fully support this legal framework, however Hari's piece is in no way shape or form an incitement to violence.

I am shocked at how often this argument has been made in this thread. What is the underlying attitude that assumes that newspaper audiences in England (which includes many Muslims btw) are better able to control their reactions to articles they are "outraged" over than people in India? Please explain this oft-cited "context" that prevents people in a certain part of the world from exercising peaceful self-control in response to words? It seems kind of paternalistic to me. Would you repeat this idea to the recently arrested editor? "Did you not realize that Westerners can handle such an article but your fellow Indians cannot? It is your own fault - think of the context!"

 

Ze wrote:

Free speech absolutism seems to me to be a form of fundamentalism itself, which suits Ezra Levant well enough but look odd here.

Free speech absolutism actually suits a lot of people well. Prior to this action that Hari writes about, it was considered extremely important by the UN in various declarations. If you don't support free speech for those you loath, you don't support free speech at all. 

Merowe

As a westerner traveling in nonwestern countries I was always amused at how the first question in so many places asked of me was what religion I was. Often the concept of not having any religion at all completely baffled my examiners, it was outside their comprehension; they had never considered it. So much for the traction of western secularism.

I think some posters here do not sufficiently appreciate the PROFOUND cultural gulf between India and Canada; what is entirely reasonable and proper here may not be so there. Like free speech absolutism, good phrase Ze.

India has a vast pool of un or undereducated, hundreds of millions strong, numbers unimaginable to Canadians. Bombay alone has something like 100,000 street kids, some displaced by communal violence in other centers. 

This pool of sometimes hungry, illiterate, hopeless, frustrated souls is readily manipulated along all manner of ethnic and religious fracture lines. 

From Wikipedia:

'On February 27, 2002, 58 Hindus, including 25 women and 15 children  were burnt alive in a railway coach in the town of Godhra following an altercation between local Muslims and activists of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (Kar Sevaks) returning by the Sabarmathi express train from Ayodhya.'

and:

'151 towns and 993 villages in fifteen to sixteen of the state's 25 districts were affected by the post-Godhra violence, which was particularly severe in about five or six districts. The violence raged largely between February 28 and March 3...'

In SUCH a context, you sure as shit DO have to walk a very careful line: its not a matter of angry letters to the editor from Catholics upset about jokes about the Pope. 

As I say, I don't have a clue as to the facts on the ground in Kolkata at present, but if such a harmless article has raised such a protest it suggests tensions are high at the moment. Perhaps not the best time to be taking shots at ONE of the TWO religious communities who are so often at each other's throats? Regardless of how repulsive the Saudi regime is? Nor how laudable the principles at stake?

Ghislaine

I guess you are right Merowe, truth always is the first casualty of war.

 Do the residents of Kolkata not deserve to read that securlarism is a possibility?

 I am curious whether you support the arrest of the editor when you write:

 

Quote:
Perhaps not the best time to be taking shots at ONE of the TWO religious communities who are so often at each other's throats? Regardless of how repulsive the Saudi regime is? Nor how laudable the principles at stake?

When is the "best time" to embrace laudable principles in a place rife with religious violence (arguably they are the ones who need the message of securalism the most!)? Who would determine when this time is? Until this best time comes is arresting editors the way to go? 

 

 

Unionist

Campaigning for freedom of the press in India. What a noble cause for Canadians. It reminds me of campaigning for women's rights in Afghanistan. Or shutting down Saddam Hussein's dungeons.

The White Man's Burden is an onerous one, indeed.

Stockholm

If you think Canadians have no right to express an opinion about anything that happens outside of Canada - then maybe you should call upon Amnesty International to disband and mind their own business rather than drawing attention to human rights abudes around the world.

Unionist

Stockholm wrote:
If you think Canadians have no right to express an opinion about anything that happens outside of Canada - then maybe you should call upon Amnesty International to disband and mind their own business rather than drawing attention to human rights abudes around the world.

Oh, Stock, I do think Canadians have a right to express opinions about other countries. It would even be better if those opinions made any sense.

Ze

No one on this thread has supported censorship or the arrest of these editors. Bears repeating. The word "censorship" was first used by M Spectpr, in fact. However, if it's required to give this particular statement: I don't agree with arresting the editor. 

There have, on the other hand, been some suggestions that the way articles are read in different contexts changes. A text is defined by its reception, in part. And any newspaper has a responsibility to weigh the effect of what it publishes. That's why Canada has laws against hate speech being printed, and so on.

  There are two different declarations being discussed. Hari says (does not prove, but he may be right, I don't know) that the Vatican and evangelicals support the Cairo declaration by the Organization of the Islamic States. The UN declaration on defaming religions was opposed by the US, opposed by Canada, and opposed by the Vatican. (Easy to find by googling, or looking up the babble thread on that very topic). 

Stockholm

Maybe the real issue is that people - of all religions and in all countries - need to learn not to react with violence to things that appear in print that they don't like. The real culprit are people who would react violently to a newspaper article. If they don't like the article then they should simply write one of their own rebutting the claims they disagree with.

Pages