Ban this film

Last week, I posted an appeal on my Facebook page. It stated: "Friends, I am writing this to appeal to you to add your voice to condemn the film, mischievously titled Innocence of Muslims, which has understandably agitated Muslims worldwide. After watching its trailer on the Net, I am convinced that it is an extremely offensive film. It has been made with the intention of provoking Muslims by insulting Prophet Mohammed. The depiction of the life of the Prophet is so scurrilous and objectionable that it also surely offends all right-thinking and religious-minded non-Muslims.

The film has triggered violent protests in many parts of the world. Such protests are likely in India, too.

There should be a ban on this film in India and worldwide. We should urge our government, and governments of other countries, to take steps to make it inaccessible on the Internet.

This is not an ordinary matter of defending the freedom of artistic or intellectual expression. Debate among differing points of view is a pre-condition for Truth-seeking. The Internet is a revolutionary tool that fosters such conversations and quest globally. However, Net freedom cannot be misused purposely to defame any religion and to hurt the core beliefs of any faith community.

One may legitimately object to some Muslims reacting violently. Protest, even in the case of the worst provocation, should be always peaceful. However, let us be realists. The principal blame for the ongoing violent incidents around the world must rest with those who have made this highly condemnable film.

Hence this appeal, which I am making in my personal capacity. Let us resolutely work to create conditions, in India and the world, that promote mutual tolerance, understanding and harmony among all faith communities."

My Muslim friends welcomed the appeal. Some wondered how a person belonging to the BJP could make "such a sensible and sensitive" appeal. One of them disseminated it in the Urdu press, which got me many appreciative calls. But what heartened me the most was the overwhelmingly supportive response I received from a majority of Hindus who commented on it. Together, all of us contributed, to a tiny measure at least, to goodwill and better understanding between Hindus and Muslims.

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