Ravi Mohan's Blog

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Wir sind alle Dänen

This is the rare "political" post. Those not interested, move right on.

Enough is enough.

In my opinion it is foolishness to initiate a "clash of civilizations". But if there is a battle line forming by virtue of some people insisting that their religious laws should apply to people of other religions (or no religion) then I know on which side I stand.

Anyone has the right to be "offended". That does not give them the right to kill, burn and issue threats. Fwiw, I do not believe in Islam, Mohammed, his "sacredness" or infallibility, etc etc. The people who protest most at this "disrespect" have laws in their own countries that officially forbid the practice of any other religion. If you carry a Bible or Bhagavad Gita into Saudi Arabia, it will be seized and shredded at the airport. How dare they protest against any "disrespect"? First practice this "respect to other religions" and then complain your religion isn't respected.

Kennedy once said "Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis Romanus sum. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is 'Ich bin ein Berliner.' All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words 'Ich bin ein Berliner!'"

Today, all free men, no matter where they live, are citizens of Denmark.

Wir sind alle Dänen.

Update: This post has generated a lot of feedback mostly by email (some people seem afraid to express themselves in public. hmmm...) .

One comment on this blog (subsequently deleted by the author) said "There's also the trap of 'they don't respect my religion/beliefs/whatnot so why should I respect theirs?'. That's the point where civilized conversation breaks down." .

This is a little naive. You can't have a conversation with people who don't follow the norms of "civilized" conversation and are not interested in a conversation. This most often happens with people who are convinced that their truth (religion/prophet/Holy Book/ideology/ whatever) is infallible. There should be no tolerance of the intolerant.

From an article by the editor of Jyllands-Posten (the Danish newspaper that published the cartoons) (emphasis mine)

"Has Jyllands-Posten insulted and disrespected Islam? It certainly didn't intend to. But what does respect mean? When I visit a mosque, I show my respect by taking off my shoes. I follow the customs, just as I do in a church, synagogue or other holy place. But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy."

So yes, this kaffir maintains that anyone who demands rights and respect that he is not willing to give to others is a hypocrite.

And while I may not (or may) be impressed with Islam or its Prophet, (that is my privilege in a free society), my stance is not anti-Islam but anti-hypocrisy.

People (of any religion) who say "respect my religion" should extend respect to other religions (and to atheists). There is no one way "civilized debate".


Anup said...

Woo hoo Dear sir, Now you know what you have done. This has some fun potential for some unrest by itself :-D
Well, I think it is a case of unorganized people (youth, I would have said, but i dont have the stats to say that). And it is widespread in countries where there are people who have a good amount of unemployment. It is very easy to motivate unemployed people to do this sorta thing. Check our dear country out. Whats different?

So, the idea is if they were occupied with better things to do, no one would have cared of someone drawing cartoons and try to stop them.

Well, with my limited knowledge, the only religion that used to not care abt most stuff was Hinduism. But even that is turning up on intolerance and the works.

Well, if people wanna feel a belonging, let them :-) Cant stop it or change it.

Ravi said...


I think we make different points. I have no problems with people (unemployed or otherwise) associating together in the name of religion or even considering pother people "damned" or "kaffirs" or whatever.

What infuriates me is the hypocrisy inherent in the whole argument that
Other people should respect my religion (and follow whatever insane laws my religion advocates) but I won't extend the same respect and tolerance to their religion. I will shred your holy books / wiill not allow you to pray how you like but you must give me all these privileges."

So yeah, feel free to react to "insults" to your religion, but at a minimum don't exhibit the behaviour you condemn in others

Anup said...

But Ravi,
who is this "I"? Why would "I" care about some uneducated ridicule my religion unless I have nothing better to do.

I am starting to think the hypocrisy lies in them not finding a better thing to do and sit there all day looking for who is ridiculing my religion. They self appoint themselves as the guardian of the religion of which they themselves are ignorant of.

Ravi said...

The "I" is a place holder for all the jihadis and/or rioters who burn pillage and destroy public property. in the name of "avenging the insult to The Prophet" (or whatever).

You are saying " they should have better things to do". I am saying "they are hypocrites and do not extend to others the rights they claim for themselves".

pretty much orthogonal ideas I hnk.

Anup said...

Yeah, you are right about what you said. But, I am extremely skeptical about group opinions. Especially when there is no forum where it is discussed with the common man. I always see the religious discussions as one person or a group with vested interests preaching their concepts to the masses. And the masses take it and get to the work of destroying public property and hating everything around because they feel they belong to a higher thinking group.
Mass hysteria, Id call it.

Anonymous said...

Some snippets from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4725116.stm,

A minister in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Haji Yaqub, announces an $11m (£6.3m) reward for anyone who beheads the cartoonist who drew the images.

Peshawar cleric Maulana Yousaf Qureshi offers 7.5m rupees ($125,000) and a car to anyone who kills the cartoonist.

Former US President Bill Clinton calls the publication of the cartoons "a mistake".

Nisha said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Vivek said...

I disagree with your post here. If some one does wrong, doesnt give others right to do wrong.

I believe that Islam, like any other religion or culture should be respected too. And if it offends them, why do it? I mean, its not like they ran out of cartoon ideas.

If one religion or country is not doing what others would like them to do, doesn't mean that others start doing the same wrong.

Ravi said...

yes, you may disagree. No harm done. But what if I said "All my blogs are sacrosanct and anyone who disagrees or mocks me should be put to death" ?

Think about it.

(Read John Mill's "On Liberty".)

Praful said...

What ever you have said, is good "in theory", but please look at the world around you. The publishers should have had enough brains to ponder over the ramifications of their action. They should have known that they are smoking near a powder keg. They should have avoided it simply due to the fact that there are lot of crazy folks out there who would go on the rampage reading them.
What ever you say is good on paper, but thats not what the real world around you is. The "practical" element is missing in your arguments.