Stop Hate and Bigotry Spread under the Garb of Religious Freedom


How and why Zakir Naik be allowed to propagate his views on Indian soil given that he is banned in multiple countries? If nations across the world have banned preachers and clerics who have posed a threat, why should India be an exception?

Issues related to hate speech are often countered with the argument about freedom of speech. Given India’s diversity, it is important to ensure a culture of tolerance by putting some restraints on freedom of speech in the name of religion. So called religious Gurus and politicians accused of inflammatory speeches have rarely been punished, leading to questions about the effectiveness of the laws or whether the law has been lenient?

Hate speeches and justifying violence or terrorism in the name of religion are used with such great vigor, as if it is a lawless land, a temple of anarchy. Our country looks like a stew of every ingredient feasible, a tug of war where people are dying and killing to establish their “newer versions” of religion/patriotism/nationalism or any 'ism' we can think of.

There is no clear line which can acquaint people of their limits and make it loud and clear, that enough is enough. It’s high time to ask ourselves the real question, do we want these prophets of chaos to tell us, how to live our lives?

Will we allow them to destroy our beautiful land which has always been an example of love and forgiveness?

The emergence and diffusion of hate speech in India is a fast evolving phenomenon and collective efforts are needed to understand its consequences, as well as to develop effective responses. There is no dispute that the hate and provocative speech laws as they now stands require changes.

Alok Kumar, Sr. Journalist, Patna.


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