Author Topic: Freedom of speech, religious intolerance and politics.  (Read 3949 times)


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Freedom of speech, religious intolerance and politics.
« on: July 06, 2015, 06:51:06 PM »

It was professor Pat Utomi who drew my attention to sheik Gumi the  controversial Muslim cleric's assertion on the fact that Jesus never died on the cross but was in coma, in a post on his Facebook wall... My comment was this simple; if it was a Christian that made this statement about Islam/Mohammed, some Islamic adherents may have exploited the situation to cause mayhem and unrest.

However, last night (5/4/2013) I saw Christiane Amanpour's interview on CNN in relation to the arrest/questioning of Bassem Youssef  the 'Jon Stewart' of Egypt; a stand up comedian and talk show host, et al. His arrest is occasioned by his parody of Egypt President Mohammed Morsi administration and policies. The twist to it is that the Muslim Brotherhood is irked by Bassem's denigration of Islam?

Now these are the issues; firstly, whereas Morsi claims there is freedom of speech in Egypt, Bassem endured hours of questioning even though he is presently on a $2200 bail for expressing his view freely. How free then is freedom? Morsi should ask former president Olusegun Obasanjo, what Nigerian comic acts did to and with him even as a sitting president. Even the American presidents past and present are not spared... Their policies, programs, administration and personal lives have become veritable satiric material for comedy. Consider Sean Hannity and the Fox News network and the Obama administration. Much as we revere the office of the president of any nation, tolerance must not be sacrificed on the altar of religiosity.

Secondly, the Muslim Brotherhood would if necessary want Bassem jailed, banned or worstill extradited. Again, owing to intolerance. But Sheik Gumi's provocative statement few days after Easter celebration amidst the tense security situation in the Northern part of Nigeria is capable of sparking a religious crisis. Perhaps that was the intention but maturity ignores 'distraction.'

Thirdly, as a media enthusiast, I know this; when the media is awash with a particular story, the discerning mind instead of being caught up, pauses and ask, what story are they distracting me from? It is obvious that the present administration in Egypt just removed the subsidy on cooking gas thus having a 60% increase, etc. In like manner, Boko Haram in almost a daily basis carry our senseless, indiscriminate and heinous attacks on civilians and the uniformed men. This is enough talking point for us in this Nigeria...

Ultimately, the relevance of tolerance in curbing excesses cannot be overstressed especially as it has to do with issues of religious concern.
Like someone once said; "the world is a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think."

Let us be guided as clerics, comedians and the administration.

- Don Kester Oshioreame.