By looking towards the Middle East and the West to issue reprimands to India over religious matters, and expressing unabashed glee after these bastions of Abrahamic faiths registered official protests, many have proved the correctness and importance of Savarkar’s Punyabhumi test of Bhartiyata. Since ‘punyabhumi’ of these people is not India, even if their karmabhumi and matribhumi might be, loyalties of such citizens is always suspect. Their major religious sites are located outside Bharat, hence their bond with this country is quite precarious. That is the reason they cannot ever bring themselves to say, “India first, Faith later”, and try to skirt around the issue of patriotism. The punyabhumi logic doesn’t let them to place India and the fellow Indians above their faith. Such people living away from their punyabhumi either see themselves as ‘trapped’ inside a foreign land, or as ‘advance civilizational force’, in need of occasional succour from their co-religionists to help colonialize the land. Their relationships with the locals remain transactional and hostage to their ‘civilizational aims’, whereas their full loyalties lie with their ‘Punyabhumi’ brethren.
Their hearts beat for the ummat, but they feel no compassion for fellow Indians of other faiths facing discrimination and hardships in Islamic countries. When India attempted to take back its own who are ‘persecuted’ inside the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, the local minorities raised hue and cry. Of course, these people have never appealed to their co-religionists in these countries to not ‘persecute’ Hindus and Sikhs. Why would they hurt their own goodwill? Maybe, this is because they believe that people of other faiths are mere cannon fodder.
India is a modern nation whose voice is trapped between the wrong historic understanding of the word ‘secular’, and too much mollycoddling of its various religions and identities. Lost amidst the loud claims of ‘feeling offended’ or ‘hurt’ by some statement or the other is the idea of free speech and the spirit of inquiry. Such undue privileges emanate from the official assumptions that ‘law and order’ is somehow a higher priority than freedom of expression. This capitulation by our states which concede that anyone who claims to be hurt by any piece of art or a random public statement is entitled to take law into his hands and cause harm to the interests of the society-at-large is quite a dampner. I wonder where such appeasing tendencies spring from? Why should I curb my expression because law enforcement is poor, and courts lack the courage to act as ‘free speech absolutists’?
Know this- there is nothing called ‘blasphemy’, certainly not in a modern democracy. No man or man’s creation which is what God is, no book or any written word, ritual, practice or custom is beyond the scope of public discussion, criticism, and by extension of this logic, mockery. Not just what is written inside the holy books, but even that which is not, can be spoken, discussed, debated, contested, lampooned and shared in the public domain. Even if someone is aggrieved, the recourse lies in courts, not in street violence or show of force. Quoting verbatim from someone else’s scriptures certainly does not warrant an apology.
And yet, the goalposts cleverly get shifted once the shoe is on the other foot. We are expected to pay to watch, and then applaud for Munawar Faruqui when he makes crass jokes on Indian gods and goddesses. We were expected to celebrate Maqbool Pervert Hussein’s artistic freedom which longed to portray nudes of Indian devis. Has anything ever happened to Akbaruddin Owaisi who derides Hindu deities with impunity? Now we are told we must not read or quote from the Quran or the Hadiths, because hey, back off, do not talk about my religion, yo!
What is next? Branding me a Qafir for worshipping the idols which your books abhor, or saving me from the hell of pagan darkness by converting me or killing me, which your religion makes it incumbent upon you? Surely a literal reading of your texts might make the going tough for non-Believers.
Thirteen, fifteen or twenty ‘Islamic Republics’ might issue reprimand to India. There are fifty seven Islamic countries, every single one of them shall feel obliged to join the rat race and raise the matter. Since their loyalties lie towards each other, they are obliged to speak in one voice. For them, religion comes before anything else. So much so that they have even formed a medieval majiis called as Organization of Islamic Cooperation, whose job is to represent the ‘collective voice of the Muslim world’ and work towards ‘safeguarding and protecting the interests of the Muslim world’. Most of these Islamic countries are absolute monarchies and fiefdoms, some like Pakistan are effectively run by the military and a few like Bangladesh are flawed democracies. These sheikhdoms patronize a particular religion over others, and have no notion of minority rights. India should feel proud of her ‘free speech’ credentials for being called out by these bastions of backwardness. In any case, there is no point in considering these demarches or protests as shameful because these have been lodged by countries boasting of medieval systems.
This is a valuable lesson and a key moment in our history. Hindus must pause and reflect as to why there is not even a single Hindu Rashtra in the same world which accommodates and humours 57 Islamic countries. Why could not even Nepal maintain its Hindu polity? Why have we allowed secularism to choke our life breath and vitality? Why do we not speak more vehemently about Hindu rights, interests and persecution across the world? Why are we so disunited that many of us actually enjoy the Indian discomfort? What has turned us into Dhimmi lepers?
Lastly, I refrain from lampooning Him, not out of respect, rather only because I fear their unreasonable propensity for violence. The day I am confident of my ability to take care of the physical threat that they present, I will open my mouth to offend.
For that is my right.
The right to say anything I want.
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