Does Freedom of Speech in India have a Religion?
Fed up of the constant media gossip about his relationship, Hritik Roshan sarcastically tweeted-
Ther r more chances of me having had an affair with d Pope dan any of d (Im sure wonderful)women d media hs ben naming.Thanks but no thanks.
— Hrithik Roshan (@iHrithik) January 28, 2016
A criminal notice under Section 295 (A) of IPC was slapped against him for hurting religious sentiments, feelings and beliefs of Christians all over the world. Also a Christian Secular Forum in Mumbai sent a legal notice demanding unconditional apology for his tweet on Pope Francis.
Remembering the time when there was similar outrage on the Movie ‘PK’ and how Media and Liberals stood for the Freedom of Speech of Aamir Khan and many similar cases. Everyone felt that the same Messiahs of Freedom of Speech will come out in defense of Freedom of Speech of Hrithik but to our surprise nobody came.
Then everyone felt that Hrithik, who himself is a strong defender of FoS and has stood for other’s FoS in the past, won’t give up. When Aamir Khan was attacked for his comments on Rising Intolerance in India, Hrithik stood for his FoS and tweeted:
Everyone was expecting that Aamir, who himself comes out and speaks on various outrages by few Hindu groups would return the favour and stand by Hrithik’s FoS but there was not a whisper from him. Apart from Aamir there are a lot of Bollywood celebrities like Mahesh Bhatt, Sonakshi Sinha, Sonam Kapoor, etc. who were silent this time. Why?
When Kiku Sharda was arrested for his joke on Baba Ram Rahim, we saw so many Intellectuals crying RULE OF RELIGIOUS FANATICS, FASCISM, EMERGENCY, MURDER Of FREEDOM of SPEECH IN MODI’s INDIA.
But in the case of Hrithik, nobody felt any Intolerance or Fascism?
Finally with no support from his Bollywood fraternity, Media and Intellectuals, Hrithik Roshan gave up, bent low and apologised for his tweet on Pope.
Seems my tweet about His Holiness has led 2misunderstanding. My apologies 4 hurt caused 2religious or other sentiments. Was unintentional.
— Hrithik Roshan (@iHrithik) April 2, 2016
Why was it that nobody came in support of Hrithik? Are intellectuals his enemies? Do they not like him? No. Then why? What was different in this case which made sure nobody outraged about Hrithik’s Freedom of Speech? Does it have to do anything with the Religion of those Protesting? Does Freedom of Expression in India have a Religion?
Let’s try to find out comparing a few cases.
Cartoons have always been controversial for hurting religious sentiments of people. We all saw what happened when Charlie Hebdo published an offending cartoon of Prophet. But this happened in France.
Indian Media also publishes offensive cartoons time to time. Cartoonist R. Prasad often uses Hindu Gods and religious symbols in his cartoons and links them with blood and murder. Did any Indian newspaper apologize? No. Does he make offending cartoons on other religions as well?
We wonder if Indian Newspaper publish cartoons offending other Religions too, afterall FoE includes the right to offend! What happens when they do?
India’s only woman editor of an Urdu Daily, Shireen Dalvi, dared to reprint a Charlie Hebdo cartoon on Prophet in her Mumbai based Newspaper Awadhnama[read]. Huge protest began, office of the newspaper was vandalized, death threats, cases under section 295 (A) were filed against her. After the pressure she issued a front page apology but still the matter did not end. Finally she had to close her newspaper and went into hiding. She’s struggling for work and money now as she has been boycotted by the Urdu Media. Did any of the Messiahs of Freedom of Speech come to stand for Dalvi’s Freedom of Speech? Let alone standing by her, not a word of condemnation came from them. Why?
Another case is when a Marathi Newspaper Lokmat published a cartoon of a Piggy bank showing funding of ISIS. The Offices of the newspaper was vandalized, cases filed and the paper was made to apologize by the Muslim Groups because Pig is ‘Unislamic’. [Read]
Just like Dalvi’s case, nobody stood for the Freedom of Speech of Lokmat.
When questions were asked to other Urdu Journalist, one said- “You are free to write anything in our country, but you are not free to hurt religious sentiments”. Liberals often use this ‘but’ to hide their hypocrisy. This is why few call them the But Brigade.]
The question is WHY? What made the newspapers apologize and Liberals silent in both the cases? This brings us again to our original question- Does Freedom of Speech in India have a Religion?
Social Media is another platform where religious sentiments of people get hurt due to offensive posts.
Teesta Setalvad posted a pic in which Goddess Kali was shown as ISIS Killers. Also, Sudarshan Chakra used to show that Hindu Gods are Killers and their followers are same as ISIS Killers. Similarly, Shivam Vij and Kavita Krishnan also posted offensive pictures on Hindu Religion.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal posted a picture Insulting Lord Hanuman. Immediately Media and Liberals came out in his defense and ridiculed Hindus who were offended. No apology was issued by Kejriwal. Now the question arises is- Will they dare to post insulting pictures of any other religion?
We have seen how Hrithik has been made to apologize even though his post made a simple joke where Pope was not even central to the joke, and it was the Pope for God’s sake, not Jesus himself. Yet nobody dared to come out in his support. Why?
Movies and Play:
Movies like PK and OMG received a lot of criticism from few Hindu organisations for insulting Hindu Gods. We saw how Liberal Gang came out in support of the movie’s freedom of speech and rightly so.
Vishwaroopam was banned in Tamil Nadu because it had scenes that offended Muslims. At that time Nobody came in support of the FoS of the movie. Similarly, when a Fatwa was issued against AR Rahman for film on the Prophet, there was a complete silence by the Liberal Brigade. When a play “Agnes of God” was called off in Mumbai due to protests by Christian Religious Groups including the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India, nobody from Liberal Gang came out in support of the play. Why? However, after CM’s intervention the play was performed under high security. Why those protesting here were not called FANATIC RELIGIOUS BIGOTS in these cases?
AIB guys find it cool to insult and make offensive jokes on Hindu Gods. Have been criticized a lot too but never apologized. The same AIB offended a few Hindus and Christians by their jokes in their infamous “AIB Knockout” but AIB guys reached out only to Archdiocese of Mumbai and tendered an “Unconditional Apology” to the entire Christian community.[read]
Why selective apology to people from only one religion? Since then AIB didn’t dare to make another joke on other religions whereas they still make jokes on Hinduism under the banner of ‘Freedom of Speech’. This again brings us to the question that- Does Freedom of Speech in India have a Religion?
Journalists have over the years been flag bearers of Freedom of Speech. They were put into Jail during Emergency for writing against the Indira Govt. but they never bent and continued their Fearless Journalism. They have faced many criticism for their articles hurting religious sentiments, sometimes their offices have been vandalised too but they stood for their Freedom of Speech.
Many articles critical of Hindu Religion have been written, which sometimes drew lot of outrage by public but they stood for their FoS and never apologised for it.
Few weeks ago, a Marathi Daily Loksatta wrote a piece on Roman Catholic missionary Mother Teresa explaining the truth behind her so called ‘Miracles’. This offended a lot of Christians and the Newspaper on the next day issued an Apology for hurting the Religious Sentiments even though the article was not against any God. [Read].
Mathrubhumi, a leading Malayalam daily in Kerala, put out an apology on its front page after it printed a purportedly offensive comment curated from social media on Prophet Muhammad. [Read]
What happened to the Freedom of Speech in these cases? Why no flag bearers of FoS came in support? Only thing that changed in these cases is the Religion of those offended. Does Freedom of Speech in India have a Religion?
Posters calling Goddess Durga a sex worker were put in JNU, huge protests followed. Liberals called it FoS and advised those outraging that this is a part of “ALTERNATE READING”.
Kamlesh Tiwari used one such Alternate Reading to call Prophet as Gay in his reply to Azam Khan’s statement calling RSS leaders as homosexual. He’s behind bars from 4 months and many serious charges have been slapped on him by UP Government. Not only this, one lakh Muslims gathered in Muzaffarnagar to demand death penalty for Tiwari. Nobody called these people RELIGIOUS BIGOTS. Malda and Purnea Riots followed demanding death penalty for Tiwari. Why didn’t any Messiahs of Freedom of Speech open their mouth in this case? Why the secular silence?
Not only this even in UP Assembly political parties that Stand up for Freedom of Speech of JNU Students chanting “Bharat Tere Tukde Honge” were demanding Faansi for Tiwari.
Not one person from entire liberal bogie has come out till now in defense of Kamlesh Tewari’s FoS. Is it because of the Religion of those who are protesting this time? Does Freedom of Speech in India have a Religion?
These are the several cases where freedom of speech came up in recent times. It’s up to you to ponder – Does Freedom of Speech in India have a Religion?