4 December, 2020

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In Defence Of ‘The Right To Say’

By Ayathuray Rajasingam

Ayathuray Rajasingam

Ayathuray Rajasingam

The series of attacks launched by the Islamist terrorists throughout the world sends the message of the denial of the ‘Right to say’ about the freedom enjoyed in democratic countries. It spreads like a cancer and a challenge thrown to the freedom of expression. Upon scrutinizing the motive of the Jihadists it is obvious that they are a bunch of hypocrites which the moderate Islamists should not fail to condemn such uncivilized activities.

European democratic countries have a remarkable history on the achievement of democracy after the period of Renaissance. Prior to the period of Renaissance, all religions were tainted with blood – killing in the name of God – on account of ignorance. Even in Asia there were religious wars. However with the passage of time, all religions accepted the concept of democracy as it assured the freedom to embrace a faith of one’s choice. Religion is a personal affair and a secondary matter. Freedom of expression places a moral obligation on the Clerics not to blend religion with politics.

The conflict between the concept of ‘Right to say’ and some versions in the Quran such as ‘whosoever join the crusade against Islam, will be protected from hellfire and enjoy eternal bliss’ poses number of issues. These slogans are misleading and amount to emotional blackmailing which in turn has the force of driving the young Islamists to join the terrorist organizations such as the ISIS, etc, who are unaware of their fate. Every Religion asserts that God is great, which assertion is not confined to Islam alone. But other religions do not resort to emotional blackmailing. It is time that the radical Islamists realize that they should not create painful situations and create tension and conflict.

CharlieHebdoafpThe concept of ‘Right to Say’ promotes freedom of speech and expression’ which is the live-wire of democracy. Islam promotes theocracy which has seen failed States. Freedom of expression is a treasured value. Freedom to mock is crucial to any vibrant democracy. Voltaire was one of the philosophers during the French Revolution, who advocated the concept of ‘Right to say’. As a Philosopher and writer his famous quote was ‘I do not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your ‘Right to Say’. Here is a case where Charlie Hebdo took on everything without any discrimination. It did not confine to Muhammed alone, but also the Pope and all governments around the world. The concept of ‘Right to say’ as propounded by Voltaire eventually turned out to be ‘Right to offend and the right to insult’ which have become a cornerstone of Western society. It is true that Freedom of Speech should not become a hate speech, but the Right to offend and Insult have become a struggle with certain ideology that cannot fit into a democratic society. The concept of ‘Right to Say’ has the force of not bowing down to emotional blackmailing and have become a culture to debate and discuss everything in a meaningful manner, but discourages to the extent to kill anyone, which no one has the right even in the name of God, other than God himself. A community that follows an ideology that does not respect human values or its criminal behavior have become blind, when even blind people are not blind, upon becoming vigilant about their freedom. If this savage ideology is not checked in time with the ‘Right to Say’ of its evils, the destruction of humanity is inevitable. In the circumstances, ‘Freedom of expression’ becomes a vital component in a civilized society. ‘Right to Say’ implies ‘Freedom to offend’ which must be defended by all means.

Voltaire had his own view of all religions. Voltaire described Mohammed as the founder of a false and barbarous sect and a false Prophet and fanatic. In the same breath he criticized the Church. But Voltaire had great respect for Hinduism and described that the Rig Veda was the precious gift for which the West had ever been indebted to the East. Strangely Voltaire was a vegetarian. Even Greek philosophers like Aristotle and Pluto promoted vegetarianism. All these great philosophers advocated freedom of expression and non-violence. Perhaps Charlie Hebdo would have been inspired with the works of the great philosopher, Voltaire.

The problem with the Islamist community is that they are reluctant to integrate in an open free society. The have been preached in such a manner to feel that they are duty bound by their religious beliefs to apply the prescribed punishment to offenders of Allah. As such an attitude drives them to be self-alienated, one ponders whether such religious extremists are representative of their community. This has been fuelled by the competence for dominance between the Al-Qaeda and the ISIS, which only saw blood spilled incidents targeting people and places of worship of other faiths as well as public places such as markets, bus stands, business establishments, etc in various countries in order to gain attention from their Islamic community. No sooner they call for Jihad (to wage a holy war), it has become a necessity to draw a line between the terrorists and the warriors. A terrorist is a terrorist and not a warrior in a war. A terrorist is an individual whereas a warrior is a part of an Army. God never said to wage a war in his name. It may appear that radical Islamists may be at war with the Western world, just because of their allegiance to Islam and its founder Muhammed (in the context of their view), but, in fact, they have only demonstrated their hatred towards freedom. It is difficult for the radical Islamists to assert whether they are freedom fighters, when, in fact, they appear as terrorists in the eyes of democrats for whom freedom is precious. Democrats value their freedom for which history has shown that a heavy price was paid. People who have valued their freedom will never bow down to terrorism and their ‘Right to Say’ is that no one will be ever permitted to kill other even in the name of God or promote such killings, just because others do not abide by their faith. Freedom of expression takes precedence over religious beliefs in this civilized world. It is this freedom which even allow the terrorists to move about for their illegal activities in the name of God. Freedom to live and embrace a faith according to one’s choice is guaranteed in democratic countries and endorsed by the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Religious beliefs cannot be applied to prescribed punishments as it is contradictory to the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Beheading, stoning to death, etc are barbarous acts symbolizing the laws of the jungles. Religious beliefs should be in conformity with the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Religious beliefs should not promote people to be slaves to emotion which has the force of misleading people to the extent of challenging the ‘Right to Say’.

With the rampage of Jihadists in Europe, it becomes a vital issue to determine the ‘Right to Say’ towards the prominent Islamist Terrorist Organization known as Laskar-e-Taiba in Pakistan and the prominent Islamist Terrorist Organization known as Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islam in Bangladesh, though there were protests in Pakistan over Charlie Hebdo. There was also a news item in the Indian newspaper that Islamist terrorists planned to attack the US President Obama when he visits India with suspected links from Sri Lanka. It is still not known whether the flow of blood of Mujahinds in the veins of moderate Islamists prevents them to stand up against such terrorism and condemning such senseless ideologies of the terrorist organizations. Mention should be made that such terrorist organizations thrive in corrupted countries where democracy is flawed. It is a million dollar question to know the contents of the ‘Right to Say’ of the Maithiripala Sirisena’s government for the call of Muslim Administrative Unit by Rauff Hakeem, when the government implements the 13th Amendment, which has tightened everyone.

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Latest comments

  • 3
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    The concept of ‘Right to Say’ has ……………………become a culture to debate and discuss everything.
    I think debate and discussion can lead to Truths that are hidden in the religious teachings. This does not necessarily mean ridiculing a faith by a specific community. Thank you Colombo Telegraph for presenting a meaningful article at a time a global war is been waged by ISIA and Al-Qaeda.

    • 0
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      Yes, there should not be any ridiculing of the faith that a particular community follows or adhere to,but it is when there are misguided Zealots from that community who cannot tolerate what others outside that community believe in or adhere to,that the trouble starts when terror methods are adopted.

      It is that one is concerned about.

      Applying that yard stick can any one say why there are hardly any followers of religions other than Islam is Islamic countries?
      For instance are there any non Muslims in any of the islands of the Maldives?

      Why is there eternal intolerance and trouble between the Sunnis,Shias,Ahamedias all followers of the Prophet Peace be Upon Him?

  • 1
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    I agree that painful situations are created by the Islamic terrorists when they failed to realize the Truth of religious teachings. Further, God never says that people should never change faith. It is their choice.

  • 0
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    It appears that Charlie Hebdo received the inspiration of the “Right to Say’ from Voltaire. First time I heard even the Western philosophers are vegetarians.

  • 3
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    Indian newspaper has quoted that Islamist terrorists planned to attack the US President Obama when he visits India with suspected links from Sri Lanka. There cannot smoke without fire. I think everyone is entitled to a ‘Right to Say’ why Rauff Hakim insisted on a ‘Muslim Administrative Unit.’ This is not a heathy sign for a united Sri Lanka. Unnecessarily dragging Sri Lanka against the democratic countries. I think the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP) has in its survey correctly stated that Sri Lanka is one of the countries which will face substantial terrorist activity. Maithiri & Ranil have to re-consider this, when even the Indian newspaper has stated such a threat.

  • 1
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    Ayathurai,

    You say, “The problem with the Islamist community is that they are reluctant to integrate in an open free society.” The same is said about the Tamils, a community you come from, by the Sinhala Buddhists. But the issues are not so simple.

    You have to go deeper into the issues than pay lip service to the world media that is owned and operated by shady organisations that thrive on disunity and war.

    • 1
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      BBS Reo,
      Who said Tamils have not integrated. They have already integrated with other communities. Not only the Sinhala Buddhists, the Tamils have already integrated with the Westerners also and have a healthy discussion and exchange views on religious teachings. Religion is a secondary matter for them. Freedom of thought is given priority.

      • 0
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        Jeya,

        Freedom of thought is one thing and racism another. Ayathurai Rajasingham is thriving on the latter. He has nothing else to write about than how bad the Muslims are. The simpletons say the LTTE is a terrorist organisation, but why and how they came to being is more complex and rooted in racism, hate and victimisation. I can’t help wonder if Ayathurai is in anyone’s payroll as almost all his writings are hate driven against Muslims.

        • 1
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          BBS Rep,
          I think you still do not know what is racism. In addition, Muslim is not a race. It is an Arabic word meaning ‘One who bows down to God.’ The writer is only concerned about the Freedom of expression. Didn’t you read how he differentiates a Terrorist from a Warrior. Has God ever said to wage a war in his name?

          • 0
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            Jeya,

            God never said anything about war or for that matter about anything. Man said god said this and that. God was created by man and not the other way round.

            Man will wage war for any number of reasons.

            Behind world media there are shadowy organisations. What Ayathurai writes about is nothing new, it is regurgitating what these shadowy organisations keep saying repeatedly.

            The LTTE for some were a terror outfit but for many others they are warriors of liberation against oppression.

            Bias crimes has many forms. Whatever the bias is based on, whether cast, creed, language or religion the end result is the same.

  • 1
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    A God who needs humans to defend His name is not great at all.

  • 0
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    LOL

  • 0
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    Al Jazeera and other alternative media’s journalists were killed by u.s troops .some of Arab journalists were detained in solitary confinements under sedition charges and they still remain in prison shells just for exposing the truth to the world.doesn’t it sound like violating the freedom of expression ? Simple truths and so many blind views hundreds of events took place lately but it all vanished in thin air .Ya u.s killed journalists but sadly those who carried the assassination of those journalists were white cowboys they had no black flags and no Arab letters were written on their mask so it was totally cool .if these stuffs were there than it must have been concluded as a terrorism act .eventually Americans claimed it was a mistake and ended up calling those journalists casualties. systematic murders and western outrages just get away with its own justifications . Here I’m not justifying the attack which carried out by aqap but terrorism basically this word come from that propagandist ‘s agenda.why systematic murderers and other lunatics aren’t being called in that way it is a basic question . Just look at the past of Charlie hebdoo .they have been inciting rascism for a long time first they did this to black people and now they fuelled the islamophobia in order to carry out the war on terror all over Europe .just try to understand the basic notion of this rascistic act .and some cartoonist cartooned about Zionism and he was sacked by the Charlie hebdoo .i think ur a big fan of corporate media and a long time subscriber of cnn and bbc . That y I could see a face of self righteous old man bcos when ur condemning other religions and mentioning Voltaire ‘ s quote .just come out from ur own ideological error and see the out side u will find more truths on what has been going on after the 9/11.there is an agenda going on in the west .they cannot live without wars.corporations and west government been fooling entire world with this fear fuelled propaganda .before u talk about the insurgency of Isis or AQAP just think about what has been happening in arab world how western governments intelligence works in that part of the world.and pls don’t hook srilankan Muslims up with those events .

    • 1
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      Farhaan,
      You can read this line – ‘It is true that Freedom of Speech should not become a hate speech, but the Right to offend and Insult have become a struggle with certain ideology that cannot fit into a democratic society.’
      What is your ‘Right to Say’ on the writer’s view that Religious beliefs cannot be applied to prescribed punishments as it is contradictory to the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
      It is also difficult to digest to radical Islamists when they read that Freedom to mock is crucial to any vibrant democracy.
      What is Rauff Hakim’s ‘Right to Say’ for the call of a Muslim Administrative Unit. 13th Amendment is a checkmate for the creation of a Muslim Administrative Unit.

  • 0
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    This Muslim hater again. His anger with the Muslims for not supporting the Tiger Terrorists in the North and East will never subside. Accept the fact the Tamil Tigers are annihilated, for ever, for good. They are never coming back.

    Ayathurai, you cannot do anything about history. Prabaharan is dead and gone. Dead. Dead. Dead. You cannot bring him back. Ayathurai try to find peace within yourself. The Muslims of Sri Lanka did not do any harm to you.

    If you are burning in such pain over the destruction of the Tigers, and you cannot bear it, please end your life. It will be merciful to you.

    • 1
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      Navin,
      I feel very sorry for you. He is against terrorism in whatever form it may be (including the LTTE). He has better connections with the moderate Muslims than you imagine. The point is about certain ideology that cannot fit into a democratic society, which can be debated and discussed through ‘Freedom to mock and insult. This is the crux of the matter. I ask honestly do you accept beheading & stoning to death?

      • 0
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        Jeya,

        OK, you honestly ask if beheading and stoning to death is acceptable. The answer is no – pure and simple.

        But why dont you ask the same question (or for that matter your Ayyathuray even squeak about) is if the drones that target remote marriage ceremonies or market places killing and maiming hundreds without the slightest remorse is acceptable? Is mass killing or mass maiming by high explosives of innocents villagers and children is more humane than beheading and stoning to death?

        This is the problem with racism and bias, people tend to look at the hated with clear eyes and look at those they admire with myopic eyes. I do not say Jeya that you are biased or a racist but your Ayyathurai Rajasingham certainly is.

        • 0
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          BBS Rep,
          After a careful reading of this article, I found that there is nothing against the Muslim community, other than the radical Islamists. Even the word ‘Muslim’ denotes ‘one who bows down to God’. I do not find any reason how he comes a God hater, after writing that all religions are like flowers in a garden called earth. Come down to earth. The crux of the matter is ‘Freedom of Expression’ which generates the ‘Right to Say’ about an ideology that cannot fit into a democratic society, especially when the civilized world had approved the UN Declaration of Human Rights. The moment he mentions of UN Declaration of Human Rights, the accusers become stupid to call him a racist because they unable to digest the facts. For instance, beheading and stoning to death cannot be tolerated by civilized societies. Recently the beheading of Japanese men, a woman, an American and some housemaids are matters of serious concern. If this allowed without any action, the destruction of humanity is inevitable. What is more surprising is that these terrorists had already began knocking the doors of democratic countries where peaceful Muslims also live and some painful situations have been created by way of explosion of bombs. Just imagine the root cause of the 1st and 2nd World Wars – how many millions died just because of the stupidity of the dictators. Being aware of this great tragedy the UN Declaration of Human Rights was passed and accepted by all peace loving countries. Why can’t these radical Muslims abide by it. I think the writer is correct that every law abiding citizens has a ‘Right to Say’ that no one has the right to kill others even in the name of God.
          Moreover, why can’t Rauff Hakim come with his reason for the creation of a Muslim Administrative Unit. Is he attempting to create a painful situation? Let the Sri Lankans and SAARC countries and other democratic countries decide whether the creation of a Muslim Administrative Unit can be justified.

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