Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Socio - Religious (Dis)- Connect

Social Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have become the beehive of unwanted activity of late buzzing with social, political, and religious abuses. This is obviously due to provocative hate mongers spread all over these sites.  These serial abusers are actually fuelled by different and rather terrifying sources be it political or otherwise. Their intention and goal is to incite negativity in the people by attacking the most sensitive thing i.e. religious beliefs. Some do it for political advantage, others to cause a ruckus, whatever the reason it is simply unacceptable. What is disturbing is the fact that some choose to be unaware of this situation.

From the experience of the last few months on Twitter and Facebook, I have realised the fact that what we were taught in black and white in school days is totally opposite to the real condition of Indian politics, meaning of freedom of expression, and the way of governance in all its practicality. What I have and I am sure you too have read is the opening lines to the Preamble, "We the people of India having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic and to secure to all its citizens . . ." Have we truly accepted secularism? Well I can't really vouch for it because I am not treated as an equal because of my religious beliefs. You may ask, Why? Take the example of my own brother who has been at the receiving end of a lot of public hatred and all because he chose to use his freedom of expression and support the political party of his choice. Which party and why is really not the concern here. The point is he was targeted on the basis of him being a Muslim. My question is, should my religion be my impediment in exercising my freedom of thought expression? I am a teenager who has just stepped in the virtual world relating his bookish knowledge trying to find a connect between the virtual and the real world. There are two different questions in front of me: Were my teachers who spent hours unravelling the definitions of those words to me, wrong? OR has the definition of  Secularism been altered by people over time?

Many of us had come across these types of situations in our journey through social networking sites, which is increasingly getting converted to the means of social disconnecting site. I am not an addictive user of Facebook though, once I did come across the hate mongers, my curiosity was aroused. I wanted to know what they were, but little did I know that my curiosity would pay me so heavily.
The blasphemous film trailer on the Prophet Mohammed was revolting was debated and caused violence in many places. As a believer in Islam I was hurt by the visuals. But amidst all this dishonour that people had brought my religion I was also brought face to face with another positive side of reality. It was heartening to note that amidst all this anti – religious sentiments of a few is the equivocal rebuttal by not only Muslims but by people from other faiths who reacted sharply to this incident. It would take long to mention all so here is just one of the reactions that of a Hindu brother, Nitish Bhardwaj who tweeted: "The Anti- Islamic video is such a disastrous misuse of the right to expression that it SCARES me. Those responsible are the sick pathetic fiends.

This incident was highlighted globally so everyone knows but do you know that there are many more such pages created each day and millions of people are viewing pages that have been created with a view to stir anger and hatred to members of different ethnic and religious groups. More blasphemous materials related to religions are constantly being circulated on many of the Facebook pages by fanatics. Everyone knows that we love our Prophet (PBUH) and our Holy book Qur’an more than our life just like a Christian would hold his faith and a Hindu would guard his. The distasteful targeting of people on the basis of religion is only filling young people with anger and hatred towards people of other faiths and beliefs. Young people are led to believe twisted ideas. These social networking sites are only adding fuel to the fire. I have come across the images of Qur’an in the gutter, and its burning photos on Facebook and what I am waiting to ask these people is, “What have you achieved?”

I don’t know who would want to spread so much negativity, but I hope they are reading this, because I want to tell them that they cannot and will not achieve anything. For you if it seems a rare case but, if you think carefully an ocean is created drop by drop. Where are we as a global community headed? If  you think carefully these miscreants could have been intelligent asset of the country and the world at large, but they have lost their way being paid and misused by wrong peers and wrong company. They represent unnecessary trivia in such a way that the youngsters can easily accept it to be right.

We as a country have accepted secularism on paper, now all we have to do is to inspire our young people to accept this principle and condition them in a way that they are not easily influenced by these miscreants who are waiting to spread hatred and unrest by using religion as a weapon.

Shabab Anwar

The writer is a young Doctor in the making keenly interested in Child Psychology. He believes his ultimate aim is 'To Serve The Society, Giving Voice To Voiceless.'


  1. You have identified an important problem here.Abuse of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech should not be freedom to insult, provoke or incite hate. Every system in the world has certain rights(huqooq) and limitations(hudood). Every right has to have a limitation for the society to be progressive and united one such limitation should be about a clear distinction between criticism and insult.

    In ideal situation the people should have the right to speek their mind while respecting even who they dislike. Criticism should be based on facts not on feelings. When the criticism becomes below the belt tactics ike calling names and insults it has to be regulated. Ideally people should regulate themselves according to decorum. When individuals abuse the freedom the state/regulatory authorities should intervene.

    Some people say the west is so mature. They take criticism in right spirit. I don't think so. If you've ever been there you will realise there are certain red lines in every society you cannot cross. Such as holocaust denial in Europe. Something of that sort can immediate land you in jail. There are many such red lines we can discuss day in and day out.

    As Indians we need to respect each others beliefs and identities when we talk in public. There is a time,audience and place to debate and criticise. Outside which we should maintain restrain and decorum.

    PS:These are my honest views.Shabab you write well and good luck in all your pursuits.

  2. Shabab, its a very well written article. More than a social comment, this article gives me a peek into the personal space of someone who truly feels for things. Being a fellow twitter-user, I know exactly how virtual forums are being use by extremists to spread messages of hatred and anarchy in a world increasingly losing its sense of right and wrong. I laud you for coming out and being brave in your expression.

    In the Preamble, we all made a promise to ourselves, at the very birth of our nation. Today, no one has left any stone unturned to rape that promise. I will hope and pray that at least promises of safe, scare-free, hurt-free living are delivered.

    Once again, well written! Looking forward to more of your thoughts.

  3. Dear Shabab,
    I am a Hindu. and let me ask a question to myself. if i find some people abusing Gods which are worshiped in my home or i see some people burning Gita on road, should i start arguing with them??
    no........ because anyway they are not in a mental condition to listen to me, so why should i bother about them? why should i care?.... yes affects me hurts me a lot.... but there are many good things to do. there is so much we can give to our society rather than wasting our precious time for these mongers. if i am passing by a street and a dog starts barking at me what should i do??

  4. 100% agree with your views. A good presentation of the ground realities amid the big bang claims of democratic and secular society. There are such elements in our system, trying to destabilize the environment of peace and harmony by hurting religious beliefs. Read Justice Katju's blog how a riot and violence can be ignited just with 2000 Rupees. So, if we show our reaction to each and every incident, this will make us more predictable and very easy to target. The wisdom asks, for ignorance of certain things and show our inner strength and determination during times of difficulties. You can't simply hit every barking dog in the street, so its better to avoid them.