When a religious leader uses a religious event or platform to spew venom of hatred against another religion, it is definite that he is causing more damage to his own religion than the one he is targeting. The onus of first protesting against such acts also lies on his own people to stand up against their religious leaders for spreading hate and communalism.
In one such incident that took place in Kerala recently at a Christian religious congregation in Kottayam, instead of preaching the Biblical messages of peace and harmonious co-existence, a Bishop tried to misuse the platform and sow the seeds of hatred. The Bishop asked the congregation attendees, to not transact any businesses business with people of communities that don’t have anything to do with the Bible and not to eat in hotels run by them.
In most probabilities, such speeches are made by political leaders of the Sangh Parivar under the banner of ‘Hindu Community Festivals’ (Hindu Samajotsav.) Such meetings don’t officially represent any particular sect of spirituality. As this is known by all including participants and those on the stage, nobody takes such meetings seriously as the meetings are organized with some political motive.
But the Bishop at Kuravilangad misused the religious meeting for political gains and insulted the virtues of Christianity. Christian nuns who were on the dais protested this and walked out of the meeting. With this, they conveyed the message to the followers of the Christ that the religious leader’s speech had nothing to do with Christianity. By walking out, they also upheld the values and dignity of the Bible and Jesus. This incident was in continuation of another Bishop’s recent tirade against what he had termed ‘Narcotics Jihad’. But the nuns with their maturity and wisdom have sent out the right message to all concerned.
The Bishop’s statement about ‘Narcotics Jihad’ was condemned by several Christian priests who also stated that the statement was prejudiced. Perhaps, the Bishop made the statement to distract from several allegations of sexual harassment of nuns in the recent past across Kerala, or a few political forces might have made him issue such statements. We need to now recognize that voices of protest has come from within the Christian community in Kerala and consider it as model.
Today, not only our country but the entire world is the victim of drugs menace. It is a problem that has affected the youth of the entire country. Several states including Punjab are fighting against drug menace. There is no need to explain Islam’s stand on narcotics and all other kind of intoxicants. Leaders of all religions are speaking against drugs. The political motive behind the statement that drugs are being used for a specific purpose and by a specific religion is very clear. There is no need to take such statements seriously. But the stand taken by the nuns and a few Christian leaders should become a model for all of us.
Religious forums are meant to teach people good conduct, love, and tolerance. Political forces are always looking for opportunities to misuse such forums. Such elements and forums are found in every religion. Followers of all religions accept the messages given out in religious events at Churches, Mosques, and temples with a lot of passion and emotions. If a person who identifies himself as a religious leader utters wrong words in such a religious forum, it will adversely affect harmony and cohesion in society. And the religion that such leaders represent pays a heavy price for this. Therefore, Muslim leaders should either stop or walk out of a platform where a person who must spread Islam’s messages and principles is misusing the platform to make hate speech against another religion. Staying on, even after hearing to such speeches and hate campaigns, only mean they are endorsing it indirectly. When incidents of political forces trying to misuse religious forums are increasing these days, religious leaders should have the courage to oppose such attempts. The number of religious leaders who can loudly convey that religions exist to preach love and not hate should increase in all religions.
When Hinduism was beset by several superstitions and obscurant practices, leaders such as Swami Vivekananda, Narayana Guru, and Mahatma Gandhi fought against them. But today, in Hindu spiritual forums, the voices of political leaders are being heard more than that of seers and spiritual gurus. Though several Hindu religious leaders are speaking against this, their voice has remained feeble, whereas political leaders are succeeding in using religious events to divide society.
This is harming the Hindu dharma that Vivekananda, Narayana Guru, Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and others have upheld. If leaders who were seen in porn videos use religious platforms to give speeches about culture, then the loss is for the respective religion. Similarly, when the words of senior religious scholars of Islam are heard out loud in the world will the words of extremist organisations like ISIS be silenced. As attempts of political forces to misuse Islam affects Islam the most, it is left to the leaders of that religion to oppose all such political designs. Only when scholars and spiritual leaders in all religions realize this, can all religions exist in an atmosphere of mutual love, trust, and harmony.
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Hong Kong, Oct 25: Amnesty International said Monday it would close its two offices in Hong Kong this year, becoming the latest non-governmental organization to cease its operations amid a crackdown on political dissent in the city.
The human rights group said its local office in Hong Kong would close this month while its regional office will close by the end of the year, with regional operations moved to other offices in the Asia-Pacific region.
This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong's national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government, Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty's board, said in a statement.
Hong Kong implemented a sweeping national security law in 2020 following months of massive anti-government protests. The law outlaws secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign collusion to intervene in the city's affairs. More than 120 people, many of them supporters of the city's democracy movement, have been arrested under the law.
The majority of the city's prominent pro-democracy activists are behind bars for taking part in unauthorized assemblies, and dozens of political organizations and trade unions have ceased operations out of concern for their members' personal safety under the security law.
Bais said the recent targeting of local human rights and trade union groups signaled authorities were intensifying their campaign to rid the city of dissenting voices. It is increasingly difficult for us to keep operating in such an unstable environment, she said.
Critics in Hong Kong say the national security law is an erosion of freedoms, such as those of expression and assembly, that were promised the city for 50 years when the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.