Hatred ever kills, love never dies such is the vast difference between the two. What is obtained by love is retained for all time. What is obtained by hatred proves a burden in reality for it increases hatred. – Gandhi The most important thing to realize is that there is a modus vivendi to all issues. Instead of looking for solutions, we have made it a habit to add fat to the fire. The Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad were completely pointless and uncalled for. Think of it, what purpose did they solve? Not one. But a few men lost their lives, so passionate were they in protest. The Danish people and some sections of media felt that the European way allows complete freedom of expression. And that they can do in their den as they please. Liberty is not under such peril in Europe that they have to pick fights. Nobody needs to prove a point here. On the flip side, the callous cartoons damaged relations; there was a bomb blast near the Danish embassy in Pakistan, in which people were injured and killed, and at the end there was just a whole lot of bitterness. Our freedom must be responsible and not destructive.
Many people all over the Western world supported the cartoons and they were even reproduced by publications as a mark of solidarity with the artist. Some lawmakers in Denmark have taken an even more radical view and are lobbying to introduce legislations that will squeeze out the Muslim way from their system completely. An OBE to Salman Rushdie was equally provocative. These are sensitive times and people have thin skins. Any decoration to a man, whose ‘Satanic Verses’ aroused such passions, is seen as a direct affront. It looks like it has been done on purpose and to vile. The aim should not be ‘that if you condemn him, we will honour him’. This will only accentuate differences. But here it cannot be gainsaid that while Salman Rushdie and the Danish cartoonist can be condemned, their work banned, there can be no price on their head. There is no need to kill anyone for showing disrespect. The Prophet would have been more charitable in his treatment of them. Similarly, the Taliban’s destruction of the Bamiyan statues only reinforces the stereotypes about the Muslim community. In today’s times, Muslims can ill afford to be seen as iconoclasts. It will be immediately challenged and condemned. To a very large part of the world, Buddha is their Messiah, very God like. When the Bamiyan Buddhas were blasted, it was not a mere shattering of a civilizational anachronism, destruction of art; but an act to wound communities that believe in idol worship or follow the footsteps of Buddha. It is in one’s death that one hopes for most dignity. The way we bid farewell to our loved ones, is entrenched in the ethos of the life that the person lived. So when Hindus and Sikhs in Afghanistan are not allowed to hold cremations, but forced to bury their relatives and friends at gun point, it is an assault on the faith of the deceased. The denial of his last right on earth. The years of the crusades are over. The Christian-Muslim wars over space and influence should be put firmly behind us. This is imperative. Else we will only be setting the stage for what is prophesized in the ‘Clash of Civilizations’. For a man, religion can sometimes mean more than life. It gives him dignity, and very often security and a sense of belonging. There is no room for mockery here.