In any civilized nation, society emancipates through discussions, varied viewpoints, different philosophies and ideologies. A society where there is no freedom to voice one is thoughts and expressions is a closed society belonging to the medieval ages of tyranny, barbarism and religious fundamentalism. An example of such attitudes and political intolerance is Bangladesh. A country where religious minorities live in constant fear, are treated a second grade citizens and when such news is published, the editors and mediamen are put behind bars. Taslima Nasreen, the famous Bengali Author, acclaimed the world over, has not been recognized in her country. Instead the clerics and politicians of Bangladesh were after her life and if she had not run away and sought refuge in our country, she would have been lynched. All because she dared to portray the truth about the constant atrocities towards the Hindus of Bangladesh by the Government and Islamic clerics in her book ‘Lajja’. Salman Rushdie, an India born British citizen faced the same situation for his book ‘The Satanic Verses’. Fatwahs were issued against him by Muslim countries and his life was in constant danger. This lvel of intolerance is a result of non-existent rights of expression in their countries. The ideologies of these countries had never evolved beyond the medieval ages and religious fundamentalism.
A pertinent example of this is Afghanistan and Pakistan. The former has been recently released from the clutches of a ‘Taliban’ backed government which had the citizens in their vicious and abnoxious grip. The last decade saw the dictates of clergies being meekly complied with and any deviation meant public humiliation, beatings and stoning to death. There was no choice to follow one’s own principles. Any right of expression or even though was a far-fetched idea. A certain type of dress for men and even length of hair and beard was specified with women covered from head to toe in burqas. Any education besides teachings at madarsa’s were abhorred. One can imagine the life of the poor citizens with the fundamental right of expression taken away.
The Communist countries like USSR under Stalin and even China are sordid examples of suppression of this basic human right. At reasonable estimates, more than 500,000 were jailed or executed by Stalin for expressing views different from his. The students who rose to protest against policies of State in China’s Tiananmein Square were jailed and most probably executed. The rest of the world were sheer spectators to this with developed countries like USA, UK and Germany setting their targets on procuring maximum revenue from the burgeoning Chinese economy.
Our country has a constitution which was based initially on the British pattern and ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression’ has always been considered a fundamental right there. Similarly USA the largest developed economy in the world, France, Germany and most of the European countries besides Japan, Australia, New Zealand and most south East Asian countries have always powered the Freedom of Expression viewpoint.
Without divergent views, new philosophies do not evolve and without new ideas, the world will not develop. The development in USA over the last 100 years have made giant strides and successful ones, corruption is prevalent all over the world due to furtherance of materialism but the degree is miniscule because of this Freedom of Expression Right.
The media is unchained and fearless. The journalists are snooping around to learn of any gory details of bribing and official laxity. The citizens are emancipated and are aware of their rights. There are forums to air their views and the elected legislature is very particular about following up any complaints of violation. This is why USA is the leader of the world and the first choice of students and intellectuals.
God has made human beings a higher species amongst all his creations in this world and has given us the brains to think and act as needed. This small part of the body-the brain, has constantly developed over thousands of years and we now consider ourselves intelligent. This intelligence has allowed us to think differently and express ourselves coherently for others to be convinced about the line of thought. For all this it is necessary to have the Right of Expression and Speech and it is rightfully imbibed as our Fundamental Right.