Monday, February 13, 2006

Of caricatures and paintings

A few days ago there were two protests that made news in India- a) The caricatures of prophet Mohammed and b) The potrayal of Bharat mata in the nude by M.F. Hussain. However, it is the reaction of the people to these protests which surprises me. While all of us would agree that it is wrong to hurt religious sentiments of Muslims by potraying the prophet in the manner he was, but isn't it true for all those who regard this country as their motherland? Please tell me which person in this world, who believes that clothing is essential for decency, would like his mother to be potrayed in the nude? Will M.F. Hussain himself ever paint his mother in the nude? Nafisa Ali, in an interview to CNN-IBN, said that Hussain's potrayal of Bharat mata is depicting the woman in her purest form. Well, then will Ms. Nafisa Ali herself start roaming around nude (although none of us would like this disgusting sight), or tell her female relatives to do so?

Another point to be looked out over here is the role of the media. On the issue of the Prophet's caricatures, the media is outrightly showing people making statements who say that it is an insult to Islam, etc. However, in the case of Hussain's painting, media is questioning it by saying that should art be censored and who has the right to decide what is correct or wrong? I ask why is the media not asking this question to the Muslims?

The last point worth noting is the kind of protests that went on. While Muslims all round the world rallied against the caricatures, and mostly staged violent protests, the protests of the Indians, not only Hindus, was very much muted. It was heard in the news for one or two days and then completely forgotten about. Hussain issued an apology, which the media made look like as if it was a very sincere one, and then no questions asked. What does this signify? Don't the Indians feel like making their protests known? I do not support violent protests, but should this not be made clear to people like Hussain that we would not tolerate any insults (whether subtle or direct) to any of our Gods/Godesses? It is question that all Indians should answer and respond by the best possible means they have
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