May 8, 2007 2:53 pm


Never has the name of this blog, Deja Vu, seem more relevant than while reading about the September 11, 1924 Kohat riots in India in Mohandas. The New York Times reported that 15 Hindus and Sikhs were killed and 24 wounded by rioting Muslims. The reason - a poem derogatory to Muhammad. The intercommunal violence let to Gandhi's first fast. No one worked harder for Muslim-Hindu cooperation than Gandhi. Uniting the Indians against the British was his primary goal. But even Gandhi could not overcome the basic Muslim/non Muslim divide.

Rajmohan Gandhi writes:

The following February, he and Shaukat Ali visited Rawalpindi, where Muslims came from Kohat to present their version, but the two investigators reached different conclusions. Shaukat Ali underlined the Hindu poet's inflammatory verses. Gandhi emphasized the condoning by Kohat's Muslim leaders of killing, abduction and forced conversion.

Why am I retelling the story? Not because it is reminiscent of the response to the famous Danish Cartoons. I am retelling the story because of news reports that Iran arrested 5 people for publishing articles seen as insulting to Islam, a day after they sparked protests by Iranian students.

A quick Google of the term "insulting Islam" revealed that Iran is far from unique:

On April 27, Turkey arrested four American street evangelists For"Insulting Islam."

Byle told Compass that the claim of insulting Islam was based on a book the evangelists were giving out, which he said politely explained that Christians cannot accept the Koran because it contradicts some of the teachings of the New Testament."

This is not the first such arrest in Turkey:

"Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a lawyer for one of the victims (of a recent evangelists killings),. . . said he defended Aydin seven years ago, when he was arrested for selling Bibles and accused of insulting Islam. Aydin spent a month in police custody and took his case to the European Court of Human Rights.". . .

"We didn't do this for ourselves, but for our religion,'' Hurriyet newspaper quoted an unnamed suspect as saying. ``Our religion is being destroyed. Let this be a lesson to enemies of our religion."

In February, Egyptian blogger Abdel Karim Suleiman, was sentenced to three years in prison for"insulting Islam" and one year for insulting President Hosni Mubarak.

In Malaysia, a woman be the name of Kamariah Ali, who publicly renounced Islam in 1999, was jailed by the courts in Terengganu state in 2005 for"insulting Islam"."Last year, she was charged under Section 7 of the Syariah Criminal Offence Enactment (Takzir) Terengganu. It is alleged that she declared that she is saying that she is no longer a Muslim only because she is trying to evade punishment from the court for again"insulting" Islam by saying she is no longer a Muslim. Her trial should have been concluded in August 2006, but the state-supporting media has suppressed all news of her case." ordered jailed by the court for"insulting Islam" in 2005.

All this pales in comparison to Saudi Arabia where insulting Islam is not only a crime, but one that can be punishable by death.

Saudi Arabia is said to have sentenced a Yemeni national to death for insulting the religion of his roommate.

A Saudi court in Jedda sentenced the Yemeni national to death on Jan. 7 (2003). They said the Yemeni, identified as Hail Al Masri was originally sentenced to two years imprisonment and 600 lashes. But a higher court headed by Ali Al Zahrani rejected the sentence and ruled that Al Masri should be beheaded.

Saudi newspapers said Al Masri tried to jump from the third floor where the courtroom was located after the death sentence was read. Al Masri was seriously injured in the fall and taken to a local hospital.

On September 25, 1924 Gandhi wrote:

I have no shadow of doubt that Islam has sufficient in itself to become purged of illiberalism and intolerance.

We are still waiting and hoping for the day Muslims will no longer claim that Islam is under attack.

comments powered by Disqus