Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Religious tolerance and free speech

The religion of the others should be respected as long as it calls for coexistence and peace. It shouldn’t be satirised. History is full of accounts of religious wars that turned very savage, destroying thousands of lives and hundreds of sites of heritage values, if not whole civilizations.

Today history is being repeated through the different types of religious wars. Among these are satirical portrayal of religions through cartoons and articles. This can have the same devastating effects as a war itself. It just creates a gap between people of different religions or makes them lose respect of religion as a whole.

People are social entities. They need codes to live in peace. It's true there are laws governing the relationship between the individual and society, which some see as enough to substitute religion with them. But there is the spiritual side that many see as essential for their existence. Their choices should be respected. They shouldn't be made fun of or attacked simply because they give priority to spirituality over mundane interests. If in free societies people are prosecuted for adapting views contrary to the common law, like racism, the same should apply to those profaning the religions of the others.

Concerning Islam, it's better for people in the West, particularly, to treat it with caution. Allowing intense public campaigns against it through articles and cartoons will make Muslim extremists have more followers intent on causing more harms through attacks. This will be a security headache for Western countries as well as for Muslim countries seeking to foster moderation.

It's better for people of different religions or no religion to spend their time working out how to coexist instead of wasting it throwing accusations at one another. It takes just one derisive comment or quotation that can be cited in a minute or less from a prominent source to stir millions and millions from Muslims for days with possible losses in lives and property. The well remembered cited quotation by the Pope about Prophet Mohamed is a striking example of how a faux pas can make all stumble to fall from grace to public condemnation if not, in the terms of religious people, to damnation.

Listen to an extract of the debate on BBC WHYS.


1 comment:

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