A female doctor working at a reputed Medical College in Vellore in India, is reportedly berated by the Head of Institute (and slapped by her parent when the complaint reached her home) for indulging in the immoral (?) activity of being active on the ‘Facebook’. She is told that this is not expected of a woman coming from a good family. Read more
A top Egyptian cleric, (who is a noted Sunni scholar connected with the famous Al Azhar University of Cairo) recently issues a fatwa against the use of social networking sites, like ‘Facebook. He blames these sites for the rising incidence of marital discords and divorces in Egypt , and calls it ‘anti Islamic’ for a spouse to chat with others. According to him, Muslims using such cyber platforms must be considered "sinners".
Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reports on its website that a 16 year old Turkish girl was recently buried alive in a two metre hole, dug under a chicken pen outside her home, by her father and grandfather, in an ‘Honour’ killing, carried out as a punishment for talking to boys. Official figures have indicated that more than 200 such killings take place each year, particularly in the impoverished south east, accounting for around half of all murders in Turkey.
Newspaper reports of ‘honour’ killings of adult men and women in different parts of India (especially the rich rural belt of Haryana and West U.P.), rarely raise an eyebrow, let alone debate the issue. Almost all these occur to save the so called family name when one marries outside one’s caste.
Mumbai, the industrial capital of India, is subjected, with alarming frequency, to the devious arm twisting and violence wielding tactics of the Shiv Sena and Nav Nirman Sena, who revel in holding the entire city to ransom, for no sensible reason.
Come Valentine’s Day, and the religious police/ fanatic groups in many mid-east countries gear up for a crack down on anything alluding to the celebrations of love.
As the world shrinks into the space of a laptop screen, our minds also seem to become narrower and pedantic and intolerant. We blame the youngsters of today to be a confused lot – rudderless and adrift on the choppy seas of an overload of technological advancements. Yet we fail to admit our own shortcomings. Perhaps we are intimidated by the onset of social and technological changes sweeping the world society. Rather than try to understand and keep pace with the upheaval, it is more convenient for us to shut our minds and issue fatwas against anything which goes against our own beliefs.
I wish we could appreciate the use of social networking sites as a tremendous communication tool. This was evident during the recent quake which devastated Haiti. As all communication channels collapsed, survivors could send the initial SOS through ‘facebook’ and ‘twitter’ only. Those who love their spouses, surely cannot be distracted to cause infidelity just by networking sites. Social interaction sites can work wonders in disaster management -- both mental and physical.
Yes, destructive and frivolous use of anything needs to be condemned. The scalpel can be used by a surgeon to heal, as well as by a murderer to kill. Sugar is so essential for the human body, yet excess of it can be fatal.
I wish fatwas were raised against those who blow up human beings and usurp the fundamental rights of others. I wish we saw honour in being honest and tolerant families rather than being ‘bride burners’ and murderers. I wish we banned the spilling of red human blood, rather than ban the sale of red roses, red balloons and gifts wrapped in red paper.
Let not our warped thinking turn the good into bad; the beautiful into ugly. Let us learn to love and respect human life.
(The author is the Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS), has worked earlier with State Planning Institute, UP, and teaches Physics at India's prestigious Loreto Convent. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.citizen-news.org)
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