There appears to be no end to bigotry. Every person who shares a stereotypical joke or holds a misguided opinion about a community is substantially adding to this growing concern. Jokes get internalized and are deep set in the subconscious mind as an understanding of a concept. If you let your knowledge of a religious or ethnic community be dictated by the jokes you come across, then it’s likely that you’re tolerating bigotry.
Recently, a 42 year old man was charged with blasphemy for having burned a Quran and posting the video on a Facebook page. He captioned the video “Consider your neighbour: it stinks when it burns.” This reflects the extent of his idiocy and lack of respect for another’s religion. What’s even more appalling is that a man, at the peak of his adult life, would deign to pass on such malign and succeed in the 21st century. The anti-Islam Facebook page would naturally receive such an action with cheers, totally disregarding the sentiments of Muslims. He was earlier charged with hate speech, but the verdict was later changed to blasphemy.
While news organizations are bent on highlighting his nationality and the secular nature of his home country, they are missing the key point in this case. No land, nationality or community should be associated to the actions of an individual. Generalizations do not end well for either of the parties involved. The video exuded this man’s contempt for Islam and even though he has been prosecuted, he can be imprisoned only for a period up to 4 months or by way of a fine. What good would come of this meaningless punishment? Such a feeble measure to “teach someone a lesson” would in no way drive home the point. In fact he, and thousand others, would be encouraged because they aren’t being properly held accountable. Is there any legitimate punishment that could dampen the efforts of such callous individuals? Any sure fire way of setting them on the right path?
Moreover, the lawyer of the accused has the audacity to bring up an imbecilic excuse i.e. self defence. ‘“The Quran contains passages on how Mohammed’s followers must kill the infidel, i.e. the Danes,” he said. “Therefore, it’s an act of self-defense to burn a book that in such a way incites war and violence.”’ (“Danish Man Who Burned Quran Is Prosecuted for Blasphemy”, 2017) The man was in no personal danger and hence, his acting out cannot be justified by any means. They say that such instances rarely happen. But they shouldn’t even occur in the first place. It only takes one person to light a fire, which soon spreads rapidly, destroying everything in its wake. Historical texts are evidence of the divide between people. Such brutish discrimination shouldn’t be carried forth into the global union we are trying to establish.
This incident isn’t isolated in terms of its singularity. Hate crimes against Muslims have long been taking place, and sometimes, they are ignored. It is barbaric to slaughter innocent people and tarnish their religion based on the actions of few. Every religious doctrine can be traced back to its origin. Some people find solace in practicing them and others don’t. But that does not give anyone the right to declare a religion to be “hateful” or “wrong”.
The power of free speech has always posed a difficulty, especially in areas that are highly prone to riots and communal conflicts. We should draw the line when the opinions of one are detrimental to the sensibilities of another. The mass spread of hatred is a new age movement that’s gaining momentum and snowballing into a multitude of issues. Millions of people are in a dire need of getting unconditioned from this narrow-minded approach. That is the only way we can stop hostility and apathy from ripping apart communities; whether they are a minority or a majority community, violence would be the end of them.