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Religious burden on society in name of political correctness

The motto “Islam is a religion of peace” is the politically correct view and cases of ‘hate speech’ are slapped quickly on those who say otherwise.

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Source: Wikimedia Commons

By Maria Wirth

Some years ago, on a visit to Germany, I met with a few friends from primary school times. Two of them I hadn’t seen for over 50 years, but we were quickly familiar again after we got used to our new (elderly) look. The conversation veered to the Turks in town, around 600 of the overall 6000 inhabitants. “Most of them are not integrating into our society and some buy up houses right in the centre of the town”, a former classmate said.

I mentioned that I have become very wary of pious Muslims ever since I read the Quran. Those who believe in earnest what is written there will never see non-Muslims as equals. They are simply not allowed to. They will have to strive to gain majority wherever they live and then bully us others into submission, if we are lucky not to be killed.

There was silence for a while. Then one friend, a confident, feisty woman, said: “Maria, I think like you do. But I wouldn’t have dared to say what you just said.”

Her comment brought home the power of mass media. For decades ‘political correctness’ has been drummed into us all over the world and many have internalized what they are supposed to say and what not. And maybe we did not even notice that we have voluntarily surrendered the right to free speech which is considered one of the greatest plus points of modern democracies.

-NVU-Ede-DSC_0036It is even worse and more complicated. The right to free speech is there, but the right to speak the truth is under threat. The right to free speech even allows expressing offense and falsehood provided it is aimed at the ‘politically correct’ groups of people. In such cases, free speech is often amplified because mainstream media will gladly broadcast it all over the world.

An example was the false accusation that ‘Hindu extremists’ were behind the gang rape of a nun. Hindus were not given a hearing. They were shouted down in TV studios by Christian representatives and left-liberals. A Bishop and Vatican Radio also went ahead blaming Hindus without any proof. When the Bangladeshi Muslim culprits were caught, the damage to the image of Hindus was done and it was not corrected. No case of hate speech was slapped on those Christian representatives. Not even an apology was made.

Who can be freely attacked and who not is one of the incomprehensible features of political correctness. In spite of the fact that Hindus were victims under Muslim and British rule for centuries with millions of them having been killed; in spite of the fact that Hindus never went on the offensive in the name of their gods, they and their tradition are today fair game for verbal attacks which could be termed as hate speech but is hardly ever persecuted as such. The same seems to apply for Jews. Anti-Semitism is again on the rise in the west and not only among the Muslim population there. It is prominent in universities and hidden in mainstream media.

In contrast, Muslims and Islam are generally exempted from verbal attacks in spite of the fact that mainly Muslim boys become terrorists and in spite of the fact that over the past 1400 years, Muslims were more often aggressors, not victims. The reason is that the motto “Islam is a religion of peace” is the politically correct view and cases of ‘hate speech’ are slapped quickly on those who say otherwise. However there is no further debate on why or whether Islam is indeed a religion of peace except for general claims that Islam exhorts its followers to be good human beings.

In a balanced debate it would become clear that Hindu Dharma (the open-minded, tolerant Hinduism does not deserve an ‘–ism’ as postfix) is a better option for a harmonious, peaceful living together of people of diverse natures, because Islam and Christianity require first all to convert and profess belief in their fixed, yet unproven doctrines before homogenous ‘peace’ can be established. Diversity of opinion is not allowed.

Yet this balanced, unbiased debate never happens. It is studiously avoided. Instead, those who stand up for Hindu Dharma are vilified as ‘Hindu fundamentalists’ and those who stand up for Islam or Christianity are paraded all over the news channels as persons of the ‘correct’ insight. Do you hear in public discourse that “Hinduism is a religion of peace”? You may have never heard it. And if you say it privately, politically correct persons will immediately remind you of the ‘atrocious caste system’.

How have we reached such a state where we cannot have a meaningful debate on what is true any longer? Has truth been thrown out of the window? It almost seems like that. I realized only recently that the ‘correct’ line is now apparently that there is no truth as such. Rather, there are so many truths. Whatever somebody thinks is his truth.

A German friend said exactly this, when I mentioned that it is a sad state of affairs that nowadays it needs courage to speak the truth, especially when it comes to Islam. “There is no truth as such”, he replied. I was taken aback. If truth is not taken any longer as the guiding star, we can as well pack up and stop living.

I tried to make my friend see that though the absolute Truth (that what truly is) cannot be put into words, it nevertheless is present. On another, lower level, a lie is definitely not the truth, even if somebody believes in it. Steadfastly ignoring certain important facts to create a different perception of an issue is also dishonest and akin to a lie. “Satyam vada, Dharam chara” is an ancient Indian advice – speak the truth, do what is right.

Is it so difficult to find out whether the politically correct view is truthful or not?

Let’s take for example the concern to empower women. It’s a worthy concern. But what has happened in the name of feminism and gender equality clearly went overboard and has become harmful.

“Why should I move to the place where my husband gets a job? Why should he not stay where I have my friends?” was a major issue in the early years of feminism in the west. So the discord started right after marriage because one of the two had finally to give in and if it was the wife, she would grudge it, now being aware of ‘gender inequality’.

Further, in the name of gender equality, unequal laws were enacted which favoured women and put men not only at a disadvantage, but in danger to land in jail because their side of the story simply does not count. It is apparently assumed that women are always angels and men always beasts, which is clearly not true. As a consequence, men and women are not anymore complementing each other but opposing each other, and in western societies the family system went bust. Many people there feel lonely and lost, yet the creed of feminism is still adhered to by the politically correct.

Should there not be a genuine debate on this issue? Yet it is not happening. Why is any criticism of feminism shouted down by the so-called opinion-makers in the media? Do they want a defunct society for whatever reason?

When I had finished school in the late 1960s, feminism just started in Germany. If I wanted to be ‘modern’ now, I was suddenly supposed to make a career and as compensation, I didn’t need to know how to cook and could decide whether I wanted children, as it was “my body”.

I remember that some feminists then were even fighting for girls to be included in the 18-months long military training that was obligatory for boys at the age of 18. Many women, including me, did not agree with those feminists, but we had no voice, whereas their voice was heard loudly almost daily in the media. Brainwashing is usually associated with fascist, communist or religious ideologies, but it seems, media, too, are willing henchmen to support it and how effective they are!

Let’s take another example: religion is seen as sacrosanct and freedom of religion is guaranteed in the UN Charter. Yet a clear definition of religion is lacking. Should we not have a closer look at religions regarding what is true about them and what cannot possibly be true? This debate also is not happening. Instead it is politically correct to project Islam as a religion of peace and Christianity as a religion of love, and Hinduism as a loose collection of cults which have many flaws that need to be corrected, preferably by western experts of “South Asia”.

This is turning truth on its head. But why is it done? Do the powerful, influential, wealthy religions of peace and love (both of them gained the huge number of followers through violence and indoctrination) sense that they will be losing out when there is a genuine debate? Hindus would have the upper hand because their tradition is based on philosophy (= love for wisdom) and not on coercion into blind belief.

The insights of the rishis keep being vindicated by modern science and are open to direct, personal experience in this life, provided one purifies one’s inner perception. The followers of the dogmatic religions, however, have to wait till they are dead until they know whether it was true or false what the priests or mullahs told them.

The rishis enquired into truth. “Religion” in the sense of imposing a fixed doctrine was inconceivable for them. Debates on what is true were held in which women, too, participated. The question revolved around how to make life meaningful and fulfilled. The answer they found was: the purpose of life is to discover the truth about ourselves.

Let’s bring truth into our lives and stand by it. Let’s not be swayed by political correctness or other types of indoctrination. Ultimately truth alone is victorious – and maybe it sounds strange, but I am convinced that truth is alive. If it is honoured, it will foster you.

Satyameva Jayate!

Maria Wirth- originally a German- has adopted India as her motherland. She writes on various issues, including Indian spirituality, traditions and religion. This article first appeared at her blog. She has graciously accepted our request to publish it at NewsGram.- NewsGram

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Hinduism is Not an Official or Preferred Religion in Any Country of The World, Says a New Report

Though Hinduism is the third largest religion of the world, it is not the official state religion of any country according to a Pew Research Center Report

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Hinduism
Hinduism is not an official religion of any country in the world. Instagram.
  • No country has declared Hinduism as its official state religion – despite India being an influential Hindu political party
  • Hinduism is not an official or preferred religion in any country of the world, according to a Pew Research Center report.
  • 53% of 199 nations considered in the study don’t have an official religion
  • 80 countries are assigned either an “official religion” or “preferred religion”

Nevada, USA, October 16: Hinduism is the primeval and third largest religion of the world with about 1.1 billion followers of moksh (liberation) being its utmost desire of life. India is among the category of nations where the government do not have an official or preferred religion.

Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank headquartered in Washington DC that aims to inform the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The report states that a country’s official religion is regarded as a legacy of its past and present privileges granted by the state. And a few other countries fall on the other side of the gamut, and propagate their religion as the ‘official religion’, making it a compulsion for all citizens.

It adds up on the context of allocation that more than eight-in-ten countries (86%) provide financial support or resources for religious education programs and religious schools that tend to benefit the official religion.

Hinduism
Islam is the most practiced official religion of the world. Instagram.

Commenting on Hinduism, the report states:

In 2015, Nepal came close to enshrining Hinduism, but got rejected of a constitutional amendment due to a conflict between pro-Hindu protesters and state police.

Although India has no official or preferred religion as mentioned in the Constitution,it was found by PEW that in India the intensity of government constraints and social antagonism involving religion was at a peak. “Nigeria, India, Russia, Pakistan and Egypt had the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion among the 25 most populous countries in 2015. All fell into the “very high” hostilities category,” the report added.

As per the 2011 census, it was found that 79.8% of the Indian population idealizes Hinduism and 14.2% practices to Islam, while the rest 6% pursuit other religions.

While Hinduism stands up with the majority, Article 25 of the Constitution of India contributes secularism allowing for religious freedom and allows every Indian to practice his/her religion, without any intervention by the community or the government.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, applauded the Hindu community for their benefaction to the society and advised Hindus to concentrate on inner purity, attract spirituality towards youth and children, stay far from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

According to Pew, these are “places where government officials seek to control worship practices, public expressions of religion and political activity by religious groups”.

-by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram.  She can be reached @tweet_bhavana

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3 Ahmadi Men Sentenced to Death in Pakistan on Charges of Blasphemy; Minority Communities are increasingly facing the Heat in the Country

“Blasphemy is a very sensitive issue in Pakistan. Rights groups say the controversial blasphemy law has often been abused to settle personal vendettas and disputes.

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Pakistan-protest
Pakistani students of Islamic seminaries take part in a rally in support of blasphemy laws in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Hundreds of students of Islamic seminaries rallied in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, urging government to remove blasphemous content from social media and take stern action against those who posted blasphemous content on social media to hurt sentiments of Muslims. The placards, in center, in Urdu language are reading as "Authorized Institutions immediately take action on the incidents of blasphemy and remove blasphemous content on social media". (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed) (VOA)

Washington, October 15, 2017: A court in Pakistan’s Punjab province has sentenced three men of a minority religious group to death on charges of violating the country’s controversial blasphemy law.

Mubasher Ahmad, Ghulam Ahmed and Ehsan Ahmed were found guilty and convicted by the trial court Wednesday for insulting the prophet of Islam.

The men were tried under Section 295-B of Pakistan’s penal code, commonly referred to as the blasphemy law, which recommends either life imprisonment or the death penalty for anyone found guilty of deliberately insulting Islam.

The men were arrested in May 2014 in a remote village in Punjab province after residents filed a complaint with the police and accused the defendants of tearing down a religious poster.

Four men were arrested at the time. The fourth man, Khalil Ahmad, was shot dead by an angry man while in police custody just a few days after the incident.

Saleemuddin, a spokesperson for the Ahmadi community, told VOA that the charges against the defendants and the court’s verdict were unfair.

“The convicted men were trying to take down a poster, which had anti-Ahmadi slogans and text that urged the community to socially boycott the already persecuted Ahmadi community,” Saleemuddin said.

“We will challenge the trial court’s decision in high court,” he added.

Ahmadis consider themselves Muslims, but Pakistan’s state does not recognize them as such and labels them heretics. There are more than a half-million Ahmadis living in Pakistan under the constant threat of persecution.

The Ahmadi community “is one of the most mistreated communities in the country. They have had been a target of blasphemous charges, sectarian violence and target killings,” said Mehdi Hasan, a prominent human rights activist in Pakistan.

ALSO READ Military Dictatorship Always Halted Progress in Pakistan, says Pakistan Prime Minister

Ahmadis ‘a threat’

The death sentence for the three individuals came just a few days after Muhammad Safdar, a prominent member of the ruling party and son-in-law of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, publicly denounced Ahmadi community members as a threat to Pakistan and urged the country’s institutions not to hire them in the military or the civil service.

Safdar’s remarks stirred a debate in the country on the issue of minorities and their rights.

Pakistan Minister of the Interior Ahsan Iqbal, without mentioning Safdar by name, denounced the anti-minority rhetoric coming from politicians.

“It is tragic to see hate speech against minorities in National Assembly. We believe in inclusive Pakistan. Pakistan respects all minorities,” Iqbal said in a tweet.

Abuse of law

“Blasphemy is a very sensitive issue in Pakistan. We’ve seen several incidents where angry mobs killed those accused of committing blasphemy without giving them a right to face the trial,” human rights activist Hasan told VOA.

Rights groups say the controversial blasphemy law has often been abused to settle personal vendettas and disputes. Due process is often ceremonial, the rights activists add, and decisions are often informed by the growing religious intolerance in the country.

Even if courts do drop charges against defendants, mobs and local residents attack them, and law enforcement authorities look the other way in most cases, the activists charge.

blasphemy
Members of a Pakistani civil society demonstrate April 22, 2017, in Karachi, Pakistan, against the killing of Mashal Khan, a student at the Abdul Wali Khan University in the northwestern city of Mardan. Police say the lynching of Khan, falsely accused of blasphemy, was organized by other students who saw him as a political rival. (VOA)

Social media posts

Nadeem James, a Christian, was sentenced to death last month in Punjab after the court established that he sent a blasphemous poem to a friend via WhatsApp, an instant message application.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in a recent report said 15 people were arrested on charges of blasphemy in 2016, including 10 Muslims and five members of religious minorities.

In April 2017, Mashaal Khan, a journalism student, was accused of posting blasphemous content online and was beaten to death by fellow students at Abdul Wali Khan University in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Pakistan’s government is being criticized for strictly enforcing the blasphemy laws.

In April 2017, the government used newspapers and mobile phone services to warn its citizens not to post or upload any blasphemous materials on social media.

The government has also reportedly encouraged people to report those who violate the blasphemy law. (VOA)

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Paintings Which Beautifully Depict Scenes From Ramayana

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Ramayana
Ram lifting the bow during Sita Swayambar. Wikimedia Commons.

Ramayana, the ancient Indian epic which describes the narrative of Ayodhya Prince lord Rama’s struggles. The struggles include- exile of 14 years, abduction of his wife Sita, reaching Lanka, destruction of the evil. It is strongly ingrained in the Indian culture, especially, the Hindu culture since a long time. Hindus celebrate Diwali based on the narratives of Ramayana.

The story of Ramayana gives out the beautiful message that humanity and service to the mankind is way more important than kingdom and wealth. Below are five paintings describing the scenes from Ramayana:

1. Agni Pariksha in Ramayana

Ramayana
Agni Pariksha. Wikimedia.

When Lord Rama questions Sita’s chastity, she undergoes Agni Pariksha, wherein, she enters a burning pyre, declaring that if she has been faithful to her husband then the fire would harm her. She gets through the test without any injuries or pain. The fire God, Agni, was the proof of her purity. Lord Rama accepts Sita and they return to Ayodhya. 

2. Scene From The Panchavati Forest

Ramayana
scene from the panchavati forest. wikimedia.

The picture describes a scene from the Panchavati forest. It is believed that Lord Rama built his forest by residing in the woods of Panchavati, near the sources of the river Godavari, a few miles from the modern city of Mumbai. He lived in peace with his wife and brother in the forest.

3. Hanuman Visits Sita

Ramayana
Hanuman meets Sita. Wikimedia.

Hanuman reaches Lanka in search of Sita. At first, he was unable to find Sita. He later saw a woman sitting in Ashok Vatika, drowned in her sorrows, looked extremely pale. He recognized her. After seeing the evil king, Ravana making her regular visit to Sita, he hid somewhere in the Vatika. After Ravana left, Hanuman proved Sita that he is Rama’s messenger by showing her his ring. He assured her that Rama would soon come to rescue her. Before leaving Lanka, he heckled Ravana. Agitated by Hanuman’s actions, Ravana ordered to set Hanuman’s tail on fire. With the burning tail, Hanuman set the entire city on fire.