Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Ahmadinejad (a swine) and the Kaaba (a stupid stone)

Surrend, a Danish art group, is asking for trouble. First they issued an advertisement in The Tehran Times in 2006 that "praised" Ahmadinejad for his campaign against George Bush with messages that, when read vertically, spelt out the word "swine". Now they have taken freedom of expression to an altogether different level. The group has designed a poster that shows the Kaaba - the black granite cube-shaped building in Mecca - with the words "stupid stone" in German superimposed on it.

I am a liberal and consider the first move against the Iranian president is within limits of what is acceptable and what is not but calling the Kaaba a piece of "stupid stone" seems completely off key. The freedom to express is a privilege that has to be used with the precision of a surgeon and not the blunt skills of a butcher. Surrend prefers to be the latter. I am all for criticism of Islam (for that matter, all religions) but have only utter contempt for a group like Surrend that seeks to provoke and earn spotlight.

More such trouble is scheduled with far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders forthcoming film (Fitna) that claims to show why Koran is "an inspiration for intolerance, murder and terror". The NATO is already biting its nails over what impact it'll have in Afghanistan and beyond. But what is more unfortunate is that those opposing such films opt for more disgraceful methods, like murder in the case of Theo van Gogh, rather than choosing informed and civilised debate.


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