Dhaka killed Avijit Roy because he encouraged people to think for themselves, think freely and rationally. Saudi Arabia is threatening to kill Raif Badawi, another blogger who, like Avijit Roy, used his rational faculty to analyse and understand his religion as well as his life.
Roy and Badawi are just two examples of people who are martyred for being rational and sane. For the crime of thinking freely and honestly.
Badawi was originally sentenced to a decade in prison and 1000 lashes on the charge that he insulted Islam. Now the charge has been modified as “renouncing Islam” the punishment for which is execution.
Why can’t a person question his religion? Why can’t he give up his religion if he finds it unsuitable for him?
The most terrible irony is that we live in a world driven by science and technology but our sentiments are still mortgaged to antique belief systems. Why do people find it difficult to break themselves free from the shackles of obscure and obsolete beliefs and rituals?
Perhaps, it’s not at all about beliefs and rituals. Perhaps, it’s all about politics and power. We should not forget the strong relationship that existed between Saudi Arabia and the United States of America: one an ultraconservative Islamic absolute monarchy, and the other a secular, democratic republic. True, of late there have been some differences between the two countries. Yet for years they cooperated with each other for achieving various political objectives, though religion-wise they were radically opposed to each other.
If religion can be sidelined for the sake of political objectives, why can’t rational and sane questions against it be tolerated? The answer is obvious: what the religious leaders are interested in is not the truth but political power. Politics and religion have been handmaidens to each other throughout the history of mankind. We find the current Indian politics too trying to make use of religion for ignoble political purposes.