It is a moral obligation for everyone of us who cares about human liberties to speak out and condemn doctrines that advocate hatred, writes Abdul Rashid Hanafi.
Legitimate freedom of expression never does harm to anyone. The purpose of freedom of expression, in whatever form, is to allow citizens to express their sincere concern about matters affecting the well being of the nation.
It is futile to pick fights with every person whose thinking differs from us. Actually it is more than futile – it is counter-productive and dangerous.
Practically every other person thinks differently from you and me. Are you going to fight and silence all of them and correct everybody’s thinking?
We have to understand that nobody, none of us, is the bearer of the Standard of the Truth. And we need to respect others’ beliefs even if they do not match ours.
Our job is not to find fault with the beliefs of everyone we come across. Our job is to build bridges of unity and inculcate love among the people.
Humanity is diversity and unity of humanity cannot be achieved without diversity. Diversity of races, diversity of thoughts and diversity of beliefs are what enrich the world of humanity.
But doctrines and beliefs that promote hate and animosity are a different story. We should oppose them not because they are false but because they are dangerous. Nazism, fascism and even the brand of Islam practised by militant groups such as Isis, Boko Haram, Abu Sayyaf and Al-Qaeda are doctrines that promote hate and violence.
It is a mistake not to confront them. We should counter them because they are threatening the lives of peace-loving people and the security of the nation.
Of course, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects the right to belief – even if the belief advocates hatred. But this does not mean we should sit silently and not confront hate-mongering beliefs that threaten to destroy us.
If we want to fight lies it is better to scrutinise our own belief and fight the distortions (if any) of our own belief than decry the lies or distortions of the belief system that someone else holds so dear.
The aggressive attitude that claims one’s belief is the only truth, the absolute truth – and that other beliefs are false, and therefore must be corrected, fought, eliminated – is dangerous. So are attempts at playing the victim or promoting the idea that one is being threatened by other faiths – these are all part of a convoluted game of deception designed to appeal to the naive.
Acceptance of other people and tolerance of their beliefs is the right way. Truth lies not in what we believe but in how we live. It is how we interact with people of other creeds that makes us right or wrong.
We should not fight the religions that believe in god or in divinity but those that advocate hate, violence, destruction and even the killing of those who disagree with them, those that discourage the unity of human kind.
It is a moral obligation for everyone of us who cares about human liberties to speak out and condemn doctrines that advocate hatred. This is why we need space for freedom of expression to check the growing tide of extremism. Remaining silent in the face of dirty politics is condoning it.
Abdul Rashid Hanafi, a former teacher based in Kedah, has been an avid reader of Aliran.