Perpetually In Protest?

The Muslim world has two options before it: either to erupt in protest and outrage every time some ignorant bigot commits sacrilege against its religion, or refrain from reacting to deny the perpetrators the satisfaction of seeing their mischief succeed. The severity and certainty of reaction seems to have served only one purpose – to make these stupid acts more frequent, and give the offenders a sense of power over a vast section of humanity. In view of the objectives of these repeated outrages, the only answer is contemptuous silence. There is more than a fair chance of these acts dying out, sooner rather than later, when deprived of the oxygen of a readymade market.

For, they largely appear to be designed around the furore they provoke – perversely earning the hitherto obscure and mediocre perpetrator, may he or she be a writer, a journalist, an artist, a film-maker, (or a pastor), immense publicity totally free of cost. How many people in the world, or for that, how many Christians even in his own native Florida, knew of Terry Jones before he paved for himself the road to eternal infamy by announcing to burn copies of the Holy Quran? And then on, he certainly became a household name, perhaps more among Muslims than among Christians, when violence and protests over his intentions convulsed Afghanistan.

This brings out quite another angle in a phenomena appearing to escalate in direct proportion to the extent of reaction it provokes. The greatest and the direst complications are created for regions housing composite cultures and societies, regions where ethnic, religious and linguistic diversities co-exist without active hostility and antagonisms – as in countries like Egypt, Lebanon, and several other West Asian nations, not to speak of the sub-continent. Such blasphemies are liable to create unwanted tensions and mistrust between communities of different religious denominations, the latter then being exploited by various forces to orchestrate and engineer a vicious backlash of one against the other. Forces of sanity, moderation and tolerance struggling to gain a tentative foothold in such regions are one of the main casualties. The Muslim world, for example, has no dearth of individuals and forces, ranting about the satanic designs of the satanic west, to keep societies in perpetual mental ghettos for easy exploitation and mobilisation.

As proved by the latest ‘film’ episode, Terry Jones of the Quran-burning-fame is still going strong after his despicable declaration last year. It was here in Kashmir that at least 15 people were killed in a matter of hours in a single town on that day. Did this in any way make the individual restrain himself? Or have the protests breaking out regularly since in the Muslim world over one pinprick or the other in any way checked such outrages? Despite the loss of life in the Muslim world over their acts and intentions, the likes of Jones and the so-called film-maker, are neither repentant nor reformed. They appear only more intent to cause pain and hurt. Why the systems they operate in will never curb their freedom to do so is another subject and needs separate treatment. For the moment, the Muslim world may mull turning the tables on such individuals by invoking Western economic theory and its law of diminishing returns.

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