Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: Religion

Burkha ban in college

St. Aloysius’ College is in news for its rule that students should show their faces in class rooms. Students who come wearing burkha have to show their faces. The rule is in prospectus. Some have called it Burkha ban. Muslim clergy is said to be opposed to the rule.

St. Aloysius’ College has come to the rescue of Muslim female students who are under pressure from Muslim male students to wear burkha. Muslim female students don’t want to wear burkha. Parents of those female students don’t want their daughters to wear burkha.

In West Bengal, Muslim male students had made life difficult for a Muslim female lecturer. She defied them. The management had succumbed to pressure from that Taliban and had transferred the lecturer to some other place.

Colleges have a right to make rules. Students who want to study there must follow the rules. Some years back a college in Bantwal faced such a problem. A Muslim student came to college wearing burkha. Some Hindu students protested and said they too would come wearing religious dress. The Muslim student was asked to stop wearing burkha. A female Muslim lecturer tried to make that Muslim student understand and give up burkha in college but the student did not agree. She stopped attending college. The college management faced hostile questioning by TV channels. Then came Nicolas Sarkozy’s statement “Burkha is not welcome in France.” That flummoxed TV journalists.

Islam does not say a woman should cover her face. Islam says a woman should be modestly dressed. Recently Emir of Qatar visited India. His wife did not cover her face. There is no violation of freedom of religion when Muslim female students are told not to cover their faces in college. Muslim clerics who want Muslim female students to cover their faces should start colleges for them. Muslims have Yenepoya Medical College in Mangalore. They can have other colleges. It is not for Muslims to dictate the rules in Christian colleges.

Till some years back St. Aloysius’ college was a boys’ college.

Sections of population are getting talibanised. Some years back there were no such problems from Muslim female students.

Covering a face by wearing burkha is different from a Sikh wearing turban or a nun wearing her habit. In both cases there is no covering of face. Many Hindu women cover their faces in different ways. The college rule prohibits covering faces and applies to all female students irrespective of religion. There was a report that St. Edward’s School in Simla has banned turbans.

If students come wearing burkha lecturers cannot be sure of the identity of the students. Instead of one student somebody else may be present.

Burkha is a security issue. Terrorists can come wearing burkha. That happened in Kabul. Three men wore burkha and came in a car and got inside the compound of Indian guest house and shot people. In Australia bank robbers used burkha. In three cases babies were stolen by women wearing burkha.

Hitler Didi should remain

A Jewish group known as Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has objected to the title of a serial Hitler Didi on Zee TV. Some in India support them and say the channel should drop the title and find something else.

It seems there are two standards; one for Jews, one for others. When some people do something like books, cartoons, films, TV serials and paintings, that offends Christians, Hindus and Muslims these people speak freedom of speech and expression. They advocate tolerance and say freedom of speech and expression is meaningless if something that offends someone is excluded. When something offends Jews it must be banned. There is no discussion. There is no talk of freedom of speech and expression, tolerance and the right to offend.

When I first heard Mahmoud Ahmadinejad say in some European countries people can be put in jail for denying Holocaust I thought it was a joke. Later I came to know it was a fact and at least one author was jailed for his book on Holocaust. A journalist who covered White House since 1960 lost her accreditation because she said Jews in Israel and Palestine are outsiders and they should go back to where they came from like America, Russia, Poland and England.

In India somebody or the other finds something or the other offensive and there are many restrictions and Books, magazines, films and TV serials. If Indian film and TV serial makers have to change something because in a foreign country some people find something offensive then that is further restriction on creativity. If the Jews had their way The Passion of the Christ would not have been shown in theatres. There was one restaurant in Nagpur named after Hitler and the Jews put pressure on him to change the name. No self-styled liberal or votary of free speech came in his defence.

If Hitler was evil so were his enemies. What about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? What about incendiary bombs on Dresden? Winston Churchill and Harry Truman are not better than Adolf Hitler. More people died under Joseph Stalin than under Adolf Hitler. What about Israel’s evil towards Palestinians?

It is not for someone in America to dictate what should not be a TV serial title in India. What are the Jews doing today in Israel and Palestine? USA speaks of people’s rights in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen. It does not speak of the rights of Palestinians. It has threatened to veto UN membership for Palestine. When UNESCO admitted Palestine, USA, Canada and Israel cut off funding to UNESCO. They should be expelled from UNESCO.

Hitler may have been a fascist dictator and mass murderer but he was not the only one. There have been many like him before and after him. Hitler was a friend of India. He helped Subhash Chandra Bose fight the British. Rudolf Hess came to Britain with a message of peace and Churchill put him in jail. World War II weakened UK and facilitated India’s independence. For some Hitler may be a villain of incomparable evil but for some he is a hero. India has many admirers of Hitler.

Zee TV should ignore ADL and keep the title Hitler Didi.

Death of Salman Taseer

Murder is a crime. It is more serious when a security guard murders his protectee. Security guards who allow their colleagues to murder are accomplices in murder. Murderers and their accomplices deserve death penalty.

Salman Taseer, governor of Punjab in Pakistan, was shot dead by a security guard. Other security guards allowed him to shoot. Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her security guards, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh. Other security guards were unaware of their intention. They shot Beant Singh and Satwant Singh. Satwant Singh survived, was tried and hanged.
Salman Taseer was against blasphemy law in Pakistan. He wanted the repeal of blasphemy law. Many Pakistanis were hostile to him.

Many people showered the murderer of Salman Taseer with rose petals. That was perverse. Shooting an unarmed and unsuspecting man one is meant to protect is an act of betrayal and cowardice besides being a crime.

Many Pakistani politicians did not condemn the murder or attend the funeral of Salman Taseer. They want to play safe and don’t want to offend fanatics. Nawaz Sharif condemned the murder but indirectly blamed Salman Taseer when he said Salman Taseer should have been more careful about his words and actions about blasphemy law. That is playing on both sides.

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