Saturday, February 21, 2009

Somebody arrest someone! -or Is India a free country anymore?

Hard to call ours a free country when things like this happen with a depressing regularity-
Editor arrested for 'outraging Muslims'

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.

I am deeply offended by what has been done to my country by our political looter class and the religious fundamentalists, both feeding off each other.

Did you hear - I am offended! My sensibilities are offended! My deepest convictions have been disrespected!

Therefore I demand that someone be arrested immediately!

Or does that require violent mob on the streets -peaceful people(freedom loving liberals like myself and I suppose millions others) can have their sensibilities offended all day long without a peep from our rulers.

Some sensibilities, it is obvious, are more equal than others.

Update - there is an excellent post on this at dancewithshadows

There is a reason why this site - dancewithshadows - does not publish very many articles about religion. Any religion. Because if I do that, I am left with two options. Get thrashed by some group, or get thrown behind bars. And as this is a simple news and features site, and we do not make enough money to afford a lawyer to get me out, it is a losing battle which would just see me spending weeks or months taking a crap in a dirty crapper while my cell-mates watch.

In a way, it is hilarious that the protests by Muslim groups in Kolkata actually prove the point Johann Hari made - that you can’t criticise religions now, and freedom to do so have been eroded.

Read the whole thing.

(emphasis mine)