Blog: Let Us not start a religious War
Since the rude outburst of Salim Muthy at a celebration of Yaum un Nabi at Alleemiah College against Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam, a debate has suddenly sprung up around the need to avoid political speeches at religious functions.
Salim Muthy was not only rude to interrupt the Prime Minister on Yaum un Nabi day but he also showed no respect for the solemn function. He was given prominence in a newspaper that interviewed him and he reiterated his view that politicians should not speak or be present at religious functions. He is entitled to his view but he has no right to impose it on others by his uncouth manners and his desire to impose a censorship on politicians. Nor has he the right to direct Hindu religious associations what they should do.
Who is Salim Muthy anyway? He is a hard worker who had the misfortune to lose his property in a sale by levy for having been unable to repay his debts. This feature is not common to him. Many such unfortunate situations occur across Mauritius and the world. Salim Muthy should know that when a debtor cannot pay his loans he must bear the consequences of the law. The banks are here to do business. They are not philanthropists. Then Salim Muthy caught up in an anti-sale-by-levy movement hijacked by Harish Boodhoo and he became somewhat well known.
Now he believes he is a prominent public figure who can be rude in public and who can dictate his wishes to others and to the Hindus. He must learn to tread carefully because his ardent desire to curtail the freedom of speech of others may destroy his own freedom.
While we are wasting time on futile discussions on the presence of politicians at religious functions it is interesting to cast our minds in what is happening abroad. Many Mauritians believe that they have the monopoly of wisdom and knowledge and never try to look beyond their limited way of thinking.
Baroness Warsi, a Muslim who is a peer and a staunch supporter of the Conservative Party in England recently stated in a speech that "Religion must be given a greater role in public life to push back a wave of intolerant secularization".
She added: "In order to encourage social harmony, people need to feel stronger in their religious identities, more confident in their beliefs. In practice this means individuals not diluting their faiths and nations not denying their religious heritages". This is a British politician speaking in a secular state and nobody has lynched her.
It is only normal that politicians accept invitations from religious leaders and if they are invited to speak it is equally normal that they address social issues though this approach may overlap with politics at times. Salim Muthy never warned Paul Berenger not to wear any particular Hindu attire when attending Hindu religious functions. Nor did the Gahlot Suryavanshi Rajput Sabha issue such a warning to Paul Berenger. Would Salim Muthy or the Gahlot Suryavanshi Rajput Sabha have dared to issue such a warning to Sir Anerood Jugnauth? The population can find the answer.
Let us not start a religious war in this country in the name of politics to satisfy the ambition of some people who want to gain public prominence and who want to serve the interest of the masters they are serving secretly.
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