Religious freedom and respect to religions

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The recent controversial YouTube video released by social media activist Sepal Amarasinghe and his arrest has again brought the question of containment of social media to the fore. Those who always champion bridling of media contemplate and propose to bring in new laws to control the contents of social media. 

Sepal Amarasinghe’s comment on the video in question is no doubt an outrageous slur on the sacred tooth relic in Kandy as it is venerated and worshipped by millions of Buddhists in Sri Lanka. 

It had been placed on such a lofty position by Buddhists in the ancient Sri Lanka that one who possessed it within his control was considered as the country’s king. 

Social media nowadays has an enormous impact on the society, with smart phone usage having become widespread even in remote areas in the country. 
Even though poverty has prevented lowest stratum of the society from being accessible to smart phones, and thereby some of the facilities such as on-line education, they are also a part of the society by which they too are somewhat informed of news and views accessed by the others. 

At the same time, the social media has become a curse to the very society, as it is in the hands of all kinds of people, from educated and cultured to rabid racists and uncultured sadists. It is a very valued communication and educational tool while at the same time being an enemy of all social values and also a war monger.
People use social media for various purposes, education, communication, networking with friends, peers and relatives, attacking and insulting those they do not like, trolling, ego-boosting, propaganda, money-making, mobilizing, marketing including negative marketing and various others. 

Political sadists and those cover-up their sadism with popular views or a considerable amount of knowledge about subjects like politics and science, have a larger audience.  

Fake news, fake accounts, disinformation and misinformation have also become a major part of social media, destroying its credibility extensively. Politicians, religions and religious leaders have become major and popular targets of these phenomena. 

In most countries, especially in the Western countries, it is the Islam and the Islamic religious leaders are being insulted and demonized. In the recent years, we experienced it in Sri Lanka as well, especially subsequent to the attacks on Christian churches and tourist hotels by a group of Muslim terrorists on the Easter Sunday in 2019. 
In fact, a genuine effort to enlightening or educating the followers of a particular religion in order to win them over to another religion or to secularism is not the purpose of these social media harassments and trolling. There is no any intelligent discourse involved in them. 

We cannot expect a single Buddhist converting to secularism by an attack such as the one carried out by Sepal against Buddhism or religious practices such as venerating Dalada Maligawa in Kandy performed by Sri Lankan Buddhists.

Not a single Christian was converted to Islam owing to Easter Sunday terrorist attacks. Similarly, No Muslim gave up Islam after the barrage of harassments and humiliations in the recent year. 

The civilized society deems it necessary for all to respect the beliefs of others, despite the fact that he/she did not accept or follow those beliefs. This quality is the yardstick for one’s civility, in spite of him claiming moral high ground, based on his beliefs. 

That is the freedom of religion which is universally accepted and recognized is all about. It is amazing to note the ironic silence over Sepal’s slur and the justification of it by the so-called secular elements while claiming that they respect religious freedom

courtesy  Daily Mirror

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Disclaimer: Religious freedom and respect to religions - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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