Demand Religious Tolerance – Receive Religious Violence

Posted by on December 11, 2011 in Quick Note, Thoughts | 2 comments

This story from The Maldives is more than a little disturbing.

“Protesters calling for religious tolerance attacked with stones, threatened with death”

A group of protesters, demanding religious tolerance in the Muslim country, were attacked by locals, hit in the head with bricks, and threatened with death if they didn’t stop their protest. The protest group is called Silent Solidarity, whose mission was to “make the Maldives and the international community aware of the rising religious intolerance in the Maldives, and to condemn the Constitutionally endorsed suppression of religious freedom. We also denounce the increasing use being made of Islam as a tool of political power. Silent Solidarity will be protesting against discrimination of all races, gender, sexual preferences and religious beliefs and supporting freedom of thought and expression. In our silence, we speak volumes.”

Some of the practices that this group protest against are things like women being flogged for extra-marital affairs, something which has drawn the concern of the United Nations, saying that this is a human rights abuse.

These are all things I can relate to and it must be terribly difficult for someone with beliefs (or a lack thereof) that differ from those of the mainstream. Islam, “the religion of peace”, it seems is anything but when in the hands of enraged and fanatical adherents.

After reading this story, doing a little research, and remembering the apparent “suicide” of an atheist air-traffic controller there last year, I’ve decided that The Maldives is a place I never want to visit. Why? Because it is one place on earth i know I will feel unsafe all the time I am there, based on my stances on religion. The Maldives is 99% Muslim, and their law forbids the practice of any other religion.

One thing I want to ask is, since The Maldives has its own democratically elected Muslim government, at what point is it the duty of organisations like The UN to step in when hearing reports of human rights abuses? And is it unreasonable to state that he practices and edicts of Islam, if take to the extreme of flogging, are in fact barbaric, regardless of their status inside a religion? Do people have rights beyond their religion in a situation like this?

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