This is International Blasphemy Rights Day:
International Blasphemy Rights Day takes place every September 30th, to commemorate the publishing of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons. The purpose of this event is to set a particular day as a day to support free speech, support the right to criticize and satirize religion, and to oppose any resolutions or laws, binding or otherwise, that discourage or inhibit free speech of any kind. The focus on ‘blasphemy’ is simply because it is such a salient issue, and one for which a lot of consciousness-raising is necessary.
To sum up, it’s a day set aside to remind everyone that ideas can and should be criticized and religious ideas should never exempt from scrutiny.
I learned of something tragic and ridiculous this morning regarding India and a long running feud between the Hindu population and the Muslims. The dispute is over a chunk of land each faith claims is theirs by holy right. Muslims had a mosque on it that Hindu extremists destroyed a decade ago. The Hindus, who once had a temple on that site, claim the land is the holy birthplace Lord Rama, a divine figure from their religion, and therefore the land should be theirs. CBC Radio 1 reported that the official verdict ultimately came down in favour of the Hindus.
The Telegraph has a brief article explaining how and why this all came about, and why this whole business has resulted in the deaths of thousands and thousands of people over the past 157 years. Yes, you read that right. This whole stupidity started in 1853.
The ruling its [sic] politically explosive. If it finds in favour of Hindus who want to rebuild a Ram Temple on the site, it will alienate India’s 140 million muslims, many of whom already feel marginalised in Indian society.
It will also cause anxiety over their property rights – most plots and mosque sites in India were once owned by Hindus.
More than the ruling itself, public reaction to it will be another test of how far India has travelled from its dark, communal recent history. The government is hoping those on either side of the divide now care more about their rising wealth and their stake in India’s growth than settling ancient religious scores.
If you can’t appeal to sense, appeal to greed, apparently. Well, why not, I guess. Even if they can’t get along with each other, both groups should be caring about the state of their country.
What makes this even more troublesome is the timing. The Commonwealth Games are set to start soon and thousands of athletes are in the country to compete. Another Telegraph article reports that bulk text messages have been banned. They’re hoping to make it harder to feed misinformation to the population and thus avoid riots over the news. Good luck with that. Is it likely to be that easily avoided, given their history?