Sunday, 5 April 2009

extremists frighten us into silence

Another case of rowdy censorship. This one comes from Norway.

This was to be a blog on India. But one of my pet themes is human expression and how society seeks to control it. Expression gets curtailed, free speech is banned by a few among us who are loud enough to shout and violent enough to stomp, tear, destroy and even kill. All this as the majority of us just stand and watch, and remain silent.
Increasingly these shouters are getting more vocal, much louder and they frighten us into submission. With threats of violence, and vandalalim and plain murder.
And what is happening? The movie maker shifts base, the artist pulls down his work, the writer is banned. It is happening all over the world and with a frigthening regularity and frequency. Yes, we are becomong a lot less tolerant. We are unable to take criticism. We are unable to debate or frame fitting replies to something we do not like, or hold a contrary view to, in a civilised manner. When someone writes something, and we think it is wrong, why can't the argument be put forth in a civilised manner. Another article or a book, perhaps? Another set of paintings depcting the contrary view? Why do we have to throw stones, burn property and kill?
Last month, a Norwegian Library was forced to pull down posters of "anti-extremist Islamic Art" after vandalism and complaints by a small group of Muslims (three women we are told) who vandalised some works, and the library was forced to pull them down.
The posters were done by Ahmed Mashhouri, a Muslim artist and refugee from Iran. Ahmed and his wife were human rights activists in Iran and knew what people can do in the name of religion as they had experienced at first hand the cruelty of the Muslim fanatics.
The posters were up for only a few hours before the women got at them. This is what I call rowdy censorship and falls in the same category as the one that drove Deepa Mehta away from India for the filming of her film on widows, that drove Bangladeshi author Tasleema to exile first from her home country and for the second time from India, the country where she had sought refuge.
It is what frigthened a Mumbai gallery from exhibiting a painting which depicts nothing more than what our ancient scupltures do . Links to some of the stories are provided below.
The poster from the top is from Ahmed Mashhouri's collection.
In fact, I found the recent video of the public flogging of a girl in Swat valley of Pakistan, which was widely circulated, very very disturbing. The poster in fact, seems a watered down version in comparison of what some fanatics among us do to women in the name of religion.
I wonder if those who protested at the Norwegian library will raise their voice against the public flogging of a teenaged girl in Swat? Will those who bayed for the head of the Danish cartoonist, speak up against the flogging? And demand that those who did it be punished for their very unislamic act. Will the men who flogged her be brought to book?

For more on the posters -
Gateway Pundit: Artist Told to Remove Anti-Islam Display After Muslims Attack Exhibition

Articles on this blog -

Rowdy censorship and Deepa Mehta's film -Water

Have a cry

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