On April 17th, well known playback singer Sonu Nigam created quite a controversy with his set of tweets against use of loudspeakers in masjids, temples and gurudwara. Since his initial tweet, said "I'm not a Muslim' and mentioned the word "Azaan", his tweets were seen as a direct threat to our "secularism" as per the keepers of this kind of secularism. While, the custodians of this biased secularism were up against Sonu Nigam, they forgot that they have always complained about having no freedom of speech in this country since the "Right Wing" government took over. Today they are not willing to extend the privilege called freedom of speech to Sonu Nigam. Just like any other citizen of a free democracy, Sonu Nigam has a right to express himself or voice out his anxiety. He had an issue with blaring loudspeakers and he expressed his feelings against this use of loudspeakers at religious places. What is worth noticing is that his complaint was against loudspeakers not just in mosques but also temples and gurudwara, but only mosque and azaan made it to the headlines... yes that's our secularism.
Sonu Nigam tweeted about the inconvenience caused by these loudspeakers and what followed was nothing surprising- liberal outrage and a fatwa. Yes, whenever it's about Islam even in the tiniest possible way, there has to be a fatwa, and these fatwas are invariably death threats or something like shaving head, which was demanded in the case of Sonu Nigam. While Liberal outrage was picking up pace and volume, some Maulana from Kolkata immediately issued a fatwa announcing a bounty of 10 Lakh for anyone who would shave Sonu Nigam's head. And what shocked me was, while liberal gang was busy dissing Sonu Nigam for speaking his mind, not a single one amongst them stood up against this Maulana. Not a single liberal voice was heard saying that threats are not acceptable.
It hasn’t been too long since the same people were seen parading around the daughter of an army veteran and proclaimed that freedom of speech can include anti India remarks as well. And not too long ago these freedom of speech champions were seen protesting in favor of "Bharat ke tukde tukde" gang. I have always been amazed how the definition of freedom of speech has changed from "I might not agree with your opinion and what you say but you have every right to express" to "since I don't agree with your opinion you cannot express it". I am equally amazed how the definition of secularism has changed from "respect all religion" to "respect a certain religion". I read somewhere that Sonu Nigam's shaved head mourns secularism. No, it doesn't mourn secularism because we never had secularism. It mourns the death of the belief that we have secularism.
I am a Hindu and I oppose use of loudspeakers in temples as much as I oppose them for azaan. Now for a little fact check- barely half a kilometer from my house are three temples of which two are extremely famous ones, Ayappa Temple and Shani Mandir. In 12 years of my stay in my current house I haven't heard a single chant or shloka or any music from these temples but I do hear Azaan five times a day from the mosque that's almost 2 kilometers away, so let's not calculate the distance of mosque from Sonu Nigam's house. There were morning prayers even when loudspeakers were not invented, and ironically alarm clocks were invented much before loudspeakers. The point that Sonu Nigam raised was not against one particular religion, it was against the noise created in the name of religion, every religion, which induces discomfort rather than peace.
The constitution which gives us the right to practice our religion, also gives us the right to opinion and expression. This freedom of speech and opinion can never be "either-or" which the liberal section has made it to be. This idea of secularism stayed quiet whenever a mullah has issued fatwa, be it against AR Rehman or Sulman Rushdie or against Sonu Nigam. This freedom of speech got drowned when it was about Kamlesh Tiwari or Tasleema Nasrin exercising it, or today being Sonu Nigam denied of this right. Today this idea of secularism stood quiet when a hindu boy was stabbed by muslim men because he supported Sonu Nigam on his Facebook post. When Hindu Karni Sena created ruckus on the sets of Padmavati, it was considered a deadly blow to the secular fabric of India, while a maulvi passes threatening fatwa and the same outraging people choose to look the other way.
A country that provides different set of laws for a certain religion, can never claim to be secular, neither can that society.
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