Indian Americans condemn culture of hate speech, call for uniform application of the law
Friday January 11, 2013
The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC – https://www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has expressed its unequivocal condemnation of the inflammatory and provocative language used by Mr. Akbaruddin Owaisi, a member of the Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly, at a public rally on December 24, 2012. IAMC has also called upon the state and central governments to apply the law uniformly to all such cases of speech that seeks to denigrate or ridicule any group of people, their religion or culture.
The right of free speech, guaranteed under article 19(1) of the Constitution of India, is subject to “reasonable restriction” under article 19(2). Such restrictions can be imposed in the interest of public order, decency or morality. Mr. Owaisi’s apparent ridiculing of Hindu deities not only threatens public order and breeches the norms of civil behavior, it also represents a violation of the Qur’anic injunction to desist from denigrating other religions.
Unfortunately, a culture of hate speech has been perpetuated for many years, due to the unwillingness of successive governments to confront this malaise in our public discourse. Mr. Praveen Togadia (VHP), Sadhvi Rithambara (RSS, Durga Vahini), Mr. L.K. Advani and Mr. Narendra Modi (BJP) and the late Mr. Bal Thackeray (Shiv Sena) are only a few among many that have persistently engaged in precisely the same kind of rabble-rousing rhetoric that Mr. Owaisi is being rightly pulled up for. Their words and actions have resulted in sectarian riots leading to the loss of thousands of lives, and the blighting of relations between communities, with no consequences to them on account of their actions.
“If hate speech had been consistently punished according to law, Mr. Owaisi would not have dared to engage in the kind of incendiary rhetoric that pits one community against another,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC. “Absence of any prosecution against other hate-mongers will only reinforce the perception that the administration is active in invoking laws selectively, based on sectarian and political considerations,” added Mr. Khan.
IAMC has also called upon liberal activists to introspect on the implications of defending insults against religion heaped by individuals like Tasleema Nasreen and Salman Rushdie under the guise of free speech, while condemning sectarian zealots for similar provocations. Ridiculing that which is held sacred by any group of people can only lead to alienation, acrimony and the tearing apart of the nation’s social fabric.
The sectarian hate espoused by Pravin Togadia, Narendra Modi, Varun Gandhi and Akbaruddin is not representative of the majority of India’s Hindus and Muslims, who share a long and rich tradition of peaceful coexistence. IAMC appeals to the public to reject the divisive agenda of hate-mongers, and to strengthen grassroots efforts that promote communal amity.
Indian-American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 13 chapters across the nation.
For more information please visit our new website at: https://www.iamc.com
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Indian American Muslim Council
Phone: (800) 839-7270