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5 pm Dec 05, 2012

Do blasphemy laws have any place in a secular state?

Sanal Edamaruku has been living life in exile in an alien land after being hounded by religious forces. Talk to the man himself on whether blasphemy laws are out of place in a secular state.
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19 questions answered | No question pending
  • Can't you challenge the law 295A in courts if you so against it? After all a secular state must live upto its name. You can't claim to be secular on one hand and give credence to religious dogmas on the other. Asked by: Garry Sandhu
  • Sanal Edamaruku Article 295 A or the blasphemy law can be challenged in court. We are working on it. Legislation would be easier and fast.
  • When religion takes up significant amount of time and money out of most indians' lives, why its "usefullness" not debated on television channels with similar proportions? Asked by: Hardeep Singh
  • Sanal Edamaruku I would very much wish to see such debates on Indian TV.
  • Do you think the role of religions in human evolution is over and now all they do is take civilization backwards and create friction? Asked by: Anurag
  • Sanal Edamaruku Religions have played a role in human civilization - time is up now. We have to grow beyond religions to a new era of compassion, empathy, human rights and concern about our fellow beings find prominent place than fatwas and dogmas.
  • Even if you are arrested, dont you trust Indian justice system? Are you running from state or the people of india? Asked by: Baljeet kaur
  • Sanal Edamaruku I believe in Indian justice system. If a case ultimately come to a trial court, I would be glad to invite the Auxiliary Bishop of Mumbai and the Arch Bishop (who offers "pardon" if I apologize!) to answer some of my questions as witnesses. But the law 295 A does not allow me to defend myself as a free man! The law has to go!!
  • Do you think govt legislations should be in place when it comes to regulating TV programmes which air fortune-teling and other superstitious practices? Asked by: Prahlad Trivedi
  • Sanal Edamaruku TV programs should not promote superstitions. Whenever superstitions are reported, scientific explanations should be given along with it.
  • Have other fellow rationalists come out in your support? Asked by: B Upadhyay
  • Sanal Edamaruku Yes, they all support me.
  • Have you received support from any sections of the Indian people? Asked by: Sasi
  • Sanal Edamaruku I am getting overwhelming support. I am glad about that.
  • Have other Indian rationalists come out in your support? Asked by: VK
  • Sanal Edamaruku All the rationalists of India that I know are supporting me on what I do. But my right to speak on the side of reason, and doing my Fundamental Duty to promote Scientific Temper is not only for rationalists. I hope all sensible Indians will support me.
  • India as our constitution says may be a secular country but do you think more than 50 % Indians are really secular? Asked by: gaurav
  • Sanal Edamaruku We are a secular nation. Religion has no right in a secular state to control politics, education, laws and ethical values. I think a large section of Indian population is secular.
  • IF, choice of 'free speech' leads someone to give a 'hate speech', then also dont we need any LAW ?? Asked by: sahim ahmed
  • Sanal Edamaruku Hatred speech is generally coming from fanatic religious or sectarian groups. If anyone advocates violence against someone else on the basis of ethnicity, religion or caste, there are laws to stop it. If views are expressed or dogmas are verified with critical approach, or when no answers are available to reasonable questions, one need not take shelter under a "hatred speech law" either. Rather our people should study to reply the questions in a civilized way.
  • Do you think indian media are scared to debate existence of god and validity of religion fearing backlash? Asked by: Harneet Singh Deo
  • Sanal Edamaruku I consider Indian media bold and responsible. I have not seen an iota of fear in them since the Censorship times during the Emergency.
  • I think in India there are 2 Indias-one is modernized and one is far from that. the percentage of both groups is similar. the problem is that in India politics and religion are not separated unlike most of the developed countries. What do you say on that Sanal? Asked by: gaurav
  • Sanal Edamaruku We have two Indias co-existing simultaneously. A progressive, modern, forward-looking, scientific India at one side. On the other side, there is another India that is regressive, and guided by astrologers, tantrics, holy men, clergy and the charlatans. We have to win India to the progressive side, that of the achievements of civilization.
  • I really appreciate about you that you do not target any one religion. you talk rationale and question the authenticity of anything related to every religion which is true secularism! may be i am not a big fan of urs:) but I really appreciate your work! Asked by: pc
  • Sanal Edamaruku Good to to know that those who do not sometimes like my views understand my honesty.
  • You say that-In a modern world, reason, common sense, tolerance to criticism and dialogue have to prevail upon rigid minds who sit with whips to silence critics. However, if more than 50 % people in a society are against your beliefs and are hell bent on their thoughts and beliefs, how will you counter them? Asked by: gaurav
  • Sanal Edamaruku Even the last lonely person should have the right to speak, in a civilized and modern democracy. Dialogue and critical inquiry are tools to test the veracity of what is widely considered as correct. If the rest of India has to believe and follow what more than 50 % of the people consider correct, what would be the position of the others?
  • Hello Sanal, I think its a stretch to call India secular. India is a place where even secularism is communalized. Reason can never win with religion. Your say? Asked by: Anurag
  • Sanal Edamaruku In a modern world, reason, common sense, tolerance to criticism and dialogue have to prevail upon rigid minds who sit with whips to silence critics.
  • Are blasphemy laws out of place in a secular state? Asked by: RK
  • Sanal Edamaruku Blasphemy laws have no place in a secular state like India. We should not allow fanatic groups supported by powerful religious organisations to misuse this law to assert their clout. They should study to respect Free Speech.
  • Have you got any assurance from New Delhi or the Church that you won't be harmed if you came back? Asked by: Abhishek Bhattacharya
  • Sanal Edamaruku The arch bishop of Mumbai made a public statement that I should apologize and in return they would withdraw cases against me. One of the accusers tells on CNN-IBN discussion yesterday that he has blessings of the Cardinal! I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE. If anyone has to apologize, that should be the Church to Mumbaikars for distributing toilet water as holy water
  • You must be having your family back in India. It must be really bad. I can't believe that the Church can be this vindictive. Asked by: Joseph P
  • Sanal Edamaruku The Roman Catholic Church has been vindictive to critics throughout history. In many cities in Europe you can see museums exhibiting cruel torture instruments that the church used to silence, persecute and kill critics.
  • Why do you think Indian Media Didn't raise this issue of you facing exile, as much as it raised the facebook issue & the MF Hussein Exile issue? Is it biased? Asked by: Abhijit
  • Sanal Edamaruku Though there were reactions in the media, including many good articles in print media, it was not raised initially like some other similar cases. I am glad, however, that the Indian media has taken it up now.

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Sanal Edamaruku
Rationalist living in exile