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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

An Encounter with Four Secular,Athiest Friends

I Couldn't Say God Save the Athiests Because I Happen To Be One!
I think it appropriate to refer to a hot debate that took place just yesterday, in the course of my travel by train. I must say that I just ran into that. I met there four athiests; middle aged men,who were all Muslims by birth and educated people possibly with access to the knowledge systems up to date and with own views in favour of what they believe as true secularism. They are members of a prominent athiest organization of Kerala and were bound for Ernakulam in connection with some meeting of their Organization. They were discussing Prof.Hameed Chennamangalur's article on the present ills of Islam as practiced ,which was published in the latest issue of Malayalam weekly. I was truly astonished to hear from these friends that the Malabar(Mappila) uprising of 1920s was wrongly depicted as peasants' struggle and infact,the trouble was started by the muslim communalists who were supporters of Khilafat and forcible mass conversions (of Hindus to Islam, in the Eranadu taluk). One of them even maintained that there was nothing acceptable as truth and dependable in terms of consensus in historical opinion. Further, I heard from them that as many as forty percent of the people killed in the post-Godhra violence were Hindus!.. Again, I heard that there was no necessity of any constitutional provision or law to defend the rights of religious minorities as such. All these learned middle class men (who were committed to atheism and secularism) maintained that the muslims are asking for too much and that was the cause of all problems.
Coming back to the State-sponsored violence in post-Godhra violence, they wanted me to answer their question 'who started it, any way?'. As they argued that advaita was the best philosophy that could ever help the mankind, and Arthasasthra of Kautilya was the best and the oldest treatise on statecraft, the train pulled up at Thrissur, and I said bye to them shaking hands with each of the four.... Neither was I left with the time to clarify my points, nor was in a mood to continue the debate.
Besides, I was terribly upset by the thought that I may not be as secular as those friends, though I am an atheist too!

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always want to defend peace, justice, peoples' right to love each other and live with dignity,struggles against parochial visions and hatred;instinctively a defender of socialist and democratic values