All Animals are Equal BUT…

Suzan Masoud writes on the socio-cultural aspects of the Middle-eastern countries. She can be reached on her blog MidEastCan trans and Twitter.

Suzan Masoud

Do you remember that line from George Orwell’s Animal Farm“All animals are equal but some are more equal than others”? Well, it has been smacking my brain for the last few weeks. I don’t Know why. Maybe, just MAYBE, because…

The UN General Assembly meeting this year flaunted a parade of Muslim leaders (including Turkey’s Erdogan) asking for a renaissance of the dark ages by enforcing international regulations against any expressions attacking “SACREDNESS”−as if the concept of the sacred that philosophers grappled with since antiquity is such a sweet piece of cake to come to terms with objectively; maybe because Muslim residents in France demand that the authorities keep the freedom of expression laws in place BUT to urge magazine and newspaper editors not to approach Muslim religious figures; maybe because in Tunisia the new elected government is trying to pass (or did?) an anti-blasphemy law−how on earth do you measure faith and blasphemy?; maybe because women in the new Tunisian constitution are “complement with the man in the family and an associate to the man in the development of the country”−is it too hard to stop reinventing the wheel (or re-interpreting verses) as God already said they are equal?; maybe because in Gulf “Muslim peaceful” countries there are still Sunni Shite citizenship discrimination and clashes(while in Canada I am as good as PM Stephen Harper); maybe because you cannot tell caricature artists and magazine writers which is free and which is not to express−how can you call it freedom then?; maybe because of many other reasons but above all because there is nothing in any Muslim text that says go fight Don Quixote’s windmills–they don’t exist.

Expressions are expressions; attacking them, especially violently, is more dangerous than letting them be. By passing anti blasphemy laws, religion is not being more respected, because all what these laws are about is the protection of “sensibilities of religious majorities” and authoritative beliefs. Examples include the arresting of minors who burnt pages that contain Quranic verses in Pakistan and Egypt in the past year in a modern day witch-hunt-like act. The laws against freedom of expression illogically ask for the impossible standards of normality. One just cannot protect an intangible ideal such as religion. Why?

It’s because religion is not fragile, on the verge of collapsing upon an instance of criticism. Religion is not paper and ink. It’s ironic for some authority to sprint eagerly tooth and nail in protection of pages from a book they do not comply with its actual message. Did we consider that it might be rejuvenating to re-examine our religious stance in light of new feedback when we reply to criticism civilly? Most people were born into their religions rather than embraced them. Re-examination gives us the opportunity to move (or not) from an ID card status to a conscious deliberate choice of religious beliefs. How priceless is that! Why are new Muslim authorities trying to deprive people from this right in a degrading protective manner? The Middle East might still be toddling in its first steps with democracy and freedom, but people have minds to think for themselves.

I don’t want to see a world with the following: all religious figures are sacred but some are more sacred than others. How many policemen they would need to follow peoples’ ideas and artistic work and writings with a measuring tape to figure out the size of Don Quixote’s windmills? Just imagine… but be careful while you are imagining. You never know. One can never be too careful nowadays.

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