In the face of fundamentalist intimidation

Michael McAlister Blog 2 Comments

Andrew Sullivan writes of the moving case of John Hari:

I linked to Johann Hari’s excellent defense of free speech in the face of religious intimidation here. The piece was eventually published in India – and this is what happened:

That night, four thousand Islamic fundamentalists began to riot outside their offices, calling for me, the editor, and the publisher to be arrested – or worse. They brought Central Calcutta to a standstill. A typical supporter of the riots, Abdus Subhan, said he was “prepared to lay down his life, if necessary, to protect the honour of the Prophet” and I should be sent “to   hell if he chooses not to respect any religion or religious symbol? He has no liberty to vilify or blaspheme any religion or its icons on grounds of freedom of speech.”

Then, two days ago, the editor and publisher were indeed arrested. They have been charged – in the world’s largest democracy, with a constitution supposedly guaranteeing a right to free speech – with “deliberately acting with malicious intent to outrage religious feelings”. I am told I too will be arrested if I go to Calcutta.

The original piece is, as Sullivan aptly points out, is a classic piece of free speech “that no free society should ever suppress.”

So how do we meet this type of brutality with open hearts and minds? For us not to get caught by overt and subtle expressions of unconscousness is such a trick, but in becoming intimate with our own clinging we have the potential of finding the dance that goes on between our own inner fundamentalists and the ultimate Freedom beyond name and form; our Buddha Nature, our Christ Consciousness, our divinity beyond faith.

As the prophet Mohammed says, “He who knows himself, knows God.” May we continually invite this meeting.

Comments 2

  1. tao

    This is something I have been thinking about with the recent unrest in the world. A recent forest fire in australia got $70 million in donations but the war in Gazza is seen as distant and no one cares.

    In the world where compassion is limited and war is everywhere and for every reason, how do we help and how do we fix it?

    I find that you can only cure yourself and that that is what you offer the world, a person with no such war in them. Bombs don’t stop bombs, shouting does not stop an argument and the only things you can’t make illegal are poverty and suffering.

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