Blasphemy Laws are attack on Secularity - Seeker's Thoughts

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Saturday, 29 September 2018

Blasphemy Laws are attack on Secularity

Blasphemy 

Blasphemy is considered as an act of insulting to religion, or sacred things associated with religion. In simple words, one can understand that the everyone should do, act and say which shows respect to god and religion.



Blasphemy and Human Rights contradictions
There are various practices in every part of the world, which are regressive, scientifically harmful and meaningless yet in the name of custom and religion those are practiced.
When activist try to bring reforms, in highly orthodox societies, they are treated badly. In some part of the world, social reformers even get death penalties.  
Blasphemy Laws were introduced by highly religious orthodox communities in primitive societies. The regret is that blasphemy laws are in the laws in 21 century as well.   Some countries use Blasphemy laws as hate speech laws.
In both cases, the attack is for the people who criticize religion.
The question is- Raja Ram Mohun Roy stood against Sati Pratha in which women were burnt alive with husbands, and that could have also called blasphemy. At that time perhaps it was blasphemy but there was a little scope for criticism.
Criticism is the basic part of evaluation, how can religion be away? On the grounds of humanity, there remain certain practices which need to be abandoned and removed.
Recent acts in India against Blasphemy
The Indian Penal Code (Punjab Amendment) Bill, 2018, mooted and passed by the Government of Punjab seeks to amend Article 295-A to make the sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib, Koran, Bible and Bhagavad Gita a punishable offence attracting life imprisonment.

Attack on secularism
The Punjab legislation can lead to other states to ‘accept’ the demands of different communities and groups. Such legislation would hinder the possibility of the immanent critique of religious/community practices, beliefs, and norms, as blasphemy laws strengthen the position of the dominant within the community by accepting their interpretation as authoritative.
Such legislation indicates to the extremist and vigilante groups that their actions have the state’s backup. Therefore, the bill needs to be seen as a vigilante legislation that could potentially legalize vigilantism- or mob lynching, as communities will come into conflict with one another.
Legal protection for the text in the domain of the sacred, even as hate speech and hate crimes against human individuals and collectives go unabated and unpunished, is a definite indicator of the extent of erosion of the secular principle in polity and society. 
International Example of ‘Blasphemy Laws”
The progressive strengthening of anti-blasphemy laws during the Seventies was a sign of a toxic combination of greater intolerance and authoritarianism.
The argument that the state needs to use coercive power in deference to religious sentiments is illiberal.

September 30th is International Blasphemy Day. On this day in 2005, the day Danish papers published cartoons of Muhammed. Riots ensued and 100+ people were killed. Today blasphemy is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia , an ally of the U.S.A and in may more countries. 
Conclusion
Certain ideas/thoughts/norms/values have to be open for criticism or contestation. This is unreasonable that certain forms of power are beyond criticism or contestation.
The creation, delimitation and expansion of the domain of the sacred is always a political (and not merely theological) exercise to create barriers of defiance for entrenched power.
A second line of criticism faults the bill for importing the “Judaeo-Christian” concept of blasphemy into Hinduism by including the Bhagavad Gita among the holy books.
This is taken as a violation of traditions of pluralism and tolerance.
 The law is still sectarian in that it protects four texts, and the state has decided which texts get protection. Any law that empowers the state to give upto life imprisonment for injury to the book will create a pall of fear. Its effect will not be the number of prosecutions. Its effect will be more palpably felt in people not even daring to push the boundaries of protest.