Posts tagged ‘Freedom of Expression-Hussain’

leter to the editor-in-chief of The Hindu

I have taken time to write this to you Ram-for the simple reason that we have known you for so many years- you and The Hindu bring back happy memories Please take what I am putting down as those that come from an agonized soul. You know that I do not mince words and what I have to say I will-I call a spade a spade-now it is too late for me to learn the tricks of being called a ‘secularist’ if that means a bias for, one, and a bias against, another.
Hussain is now a citizen of Qatar-this has generated enough of heat and less of light. Qatar you know better than me is not a country which respects democracy or freedom of expression. Hussain says he has complete freedom-I challenge him to paint a picture of Mohammed fully clad.
There is no second opinion that artists have the Right of Freedom of expression. Is such a right restricted only to Hussain? Will that right not flow to Dan Brown-why was his film-Da Vinci Code not screened? Why was Satanic Verses banned-does Salman Rushdie not have that freedom of expression? Similarly why is Taslima hunted and hounded and why fatwas have been issued on both these writers? Why has Qatar not offered citizenship to Taslima? In the present rioting in Shimoga in Karnataka against the article Taslima wrote against the tradition of burqua which appeared in the Out Look in Jan 2007.No body protested then either in Delhi or in any other part of the country; now when it reappears in a Karnataka paper there is rioting. Is there a political agenda to create a problem in Karnataka by the intolerant goons? Why has the media not condemned this insensitivity and intolerance of the Muslims against Taslima’s views? When it comes to the Sangh Parivar it is quick to call them goons and intolerant etc. Now who are the goons and where is this tolerance and sensitivity?
Regarding Hussain’s artistic freedom it seems to run unfettered in an expression of sexual perversion only when he envisages the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. There is no quarrel had he painted a nude woman sitting on the tail of a monkey. The point is he captioned it as Sita. Nobody would have protested against the sexual perversion and his orientatation to sexual signs and symbols. But would he dare to caption it as ‘Fatima enjoying in Jannat with animals’?
Next example-is the painting of Saraswati copulating with a lion. Here again his perversion is evident and so is his intent. Even that lets concede cannot be faulted-each one’s sexual orientation is each one’s business I suppose. But he captioned it as Saraswati. This is the problem. It is Hussain’s business to enjoy in painting his sexual perversion. But why use Saraswati and Sita for his perverted expressions? Use Fatima and watch the consequence. Let the media people come to his rescue then. Now that he is in a country that gives him complete freedom let him go ahead and paint Fatima copulating with a lion or any other animal of his choice. And then turn around and prove to India-the Freedom of expression he enjoys in Qatar.
Talking about Freedom of Expression-this is the Hussain who supported Emergence-painted Indira Gandhi as Durga slaying Jayaprakas Narayan. He supported the jailing of artists and writers. Where did this Freedom of Expression go? And you call him secularist? Would you support the jailing of artists and writers Ram –would you support the abeyance of the Constitution and all that we held sacred in democracy and the excessiveness of Indira Gandhi to gag the media-writers-political opponents? Tell me honesty why does Hussain expect this Freedom when he himself did not support others with the same freedom he wants? And the media has rushed to his rescue. Had it been a Ram who painted such obnoxious, .degrading painting-the reactions of the media and the elite ‘secularists’ would have been different; because there is a different perception/and index of secularism when it comes to Ram-and a different perception/and index of secularism when it comes to Rahim/Hussain.
It brings back to my mind an episode that happened to The Hindu some years ago. You had a separate weekly page for children with cartoons, quizzes, and with poems and articles of school children. In one such weekly page The Hindu printed a venerable bearded man-fully robed with head dress, mouthing some passages of the Koran-trying to teach children .It was done not only in good faith but as a part of inculcating values to children from the Koran. All hell broke loose. Your office witnessed goons who rushed in-demanded an apology-held out threats. In Ambur,Vaniambadi and Vellore the papers stands were burned-the copies of The Hindu were consigned to the fire. A threat to raise the issue in Parliament through a Private Members Bill was held out-Hectic activities went on-I am not sure of the nature and the machinations behind the scene. But The Hindu next day brought out a public apology in its front page. Where were you Ram? How secular and tolerant were the Muslims?
Well this is of the past-today it is worse because the communal temperature in this country is at a all high-even a small friction can ignite and demolition the country’s peace and harmony. It is against this background that one should view Hussain who is bent on abusing and insulting the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Respect for religious sentiments, need to maintain peace and harmony should also be part of the agenda of an artist-if he is great. If it is absent then he cannot say that he respects India and express his longing for India.
Let’s face it-he is a fugitive of law. Age and religion are immaterial. What does the media want-that he be absolved by the courts? Even for that he has to appear in the courts-he cannot run away-After all this is the country where he lived and gave expression to his pervert sadist, erotic artistic mind under Freedom of Expression. I simply cannot jump into the bandwagon of the elite ‘secularist’ and uphold what he had done. With his brush he had committed jihad-bloodletting.
The issue is just not nudity-Yes the temples-the frescos in Konarak and Kajhuraho have nude figures-But does it say that they are Sita, Sarswati or any goddesses? We have the Yoni and the Phallus as sacred signs of Life-of Siva and Shakthi-take these icons to the streets, paint them -give it a caption it become vulgar. Times have changed. Even granted that our ancients sculptured and painted naked forms and figures, with a pervert mind to demean religion is no license to repeat that in today’s changed political and social scenario and is not a sign of secularism and tolerance. I repeat there is no quarrel with nudity-painters have time and again found in it the perfection of God’s hand craft.
Let me wish Hussain peace in Qatar-the totalitarian regime with zero tolerance May be he will convince the regime there to permit freedom of expression in word, writing and painting. For this he could start experimenting painting forms and figure of Mohamed the Prophet-and his family And may I fervently wish that the media-especially The Hindu does not discriminate goons-let it not substitute tolerance for intolerance when it comes to Rahim and Antony and another index for Ram.
I hope you will read this in the same spirit that I have written. All the best to you Ram.
Dr Mrs Hilda Raja,

March 3, 2010 at 4:28 pm 85 comments

letter to Editor-in-chief of the New Indian Express

Dear Mr Adhitya Sinha,
Your editorial on the 27th Feb.was painful. Because I thought that at least the NIE would stand to be counted and not jump into the bandwagon of the so called secularists.Today it seems that bashing the Hindus and tolerating anything and everything that the Muslims do is secularism. . I belong to the old school of thought that believed in the independence of the Fourth Estate.I started reading the Indian Express (there was only one) in the days when Frank Morias was its Editor. During the Emergency under the stewardship of Goenka again this was the paper which stood up against Indira Gandhi. The Fourth Estate was and is a pillar of democracy. Even that I find has fallen and given way to a pseudo secularism. It is not my intention to go into that but to bring to your notice the hurt I feel in the episode of Husain the painter.
Let us not forget that he is a fugitive of law. His age is immaterial. Already in 1996 he painted goddess Sarswati in the nude. When there were protests he tendered an apology .But the ‘elite secularists’ faulted him for the apology. Since then he has allowed his perversion to run amuck on his canvass. Freedom of expression does not give the right of hurting the religious sentiments of the majority. What if Husain paints Mary in the nude? Why is his artistic freedom contained only to the Hindu gods and goddesses? Let him try and paint Mohammad’s wives/daughters and watch the effect of freedom of expression of the artist.
You may point at the paintings and frescos in the temples and in Konark and Khajhuraho. But these had a different background and were in no way offensive as the paintings of Husain. Nudity has been caught in the canvas by many painters but Husain has a hidden motive-to hurt. He sketched Hitler in the nude and stated that he spited him and hence he drew him naked. Will he even dare to paint Mother Theresa in a kanjeepuram saree all decked up? Signs and symbols do convey meaning. The yoni and the phallus are symbols of life –Siva and Shakti. Take it out of context into the streets –it becomes vulgar.
The background of Husain’s paintings cannot be overlooked. At a time when religious communalism is at a high pitch such paintings only aggravate the religious disharmony. Time and again Husain has used his brush as a Jihadi would use his weapons-for blood letting.
What is the great honor conferred on him by Qatar-its citizenship? You will be more knowledgeable about Qatar’s tolerance and its totalitarian regime. Is it an honor to be conferred citizenship by that country No it is only to spite India and to shelter an Islamic fugitive of a painter.
You did not hesitate to blame the thugs of the Sangh parivar for this exile of the venerable artist Husain.‘The kind of fascist intolerance they display to any view point or perspective that does not square with theirs makes a mockery of democracy’.You had also pointed out at the Ram Sena. Look today at the secularism of the Muslims in Shimoga-Karnataka –they are on a rampage because of Taslima Nasreen’s article against the tradition of burqa. Will your paper come out with a stinging editorial supporting Taslima’s freedom of expression and condemning the intolerance of the Muslims there? No, you will not I am certain-that much for the secularism of the media. Vandalising paintings of Husain becomes the handiwork of thugs-but killing innocents and painting our streets with the blood and tears of ordinary people through the Islamic Jihadis is what? Does our democracy square up with the Jedahi’s concept and ideology? Why is the media- so soft on Islamic terror-in India and across the globe? No, terror knows no religion will be the hollow voices heard from the ivory towers wherein the secularists live and the media lends its sound/print byes to drum up this hollowness. Lives lost of the innocent who go about their daily business is not condemned in such stringent language as that you have reserved for the ‘thugs’ of the Sangh parivar. Why this unreasonable, irrational and unrestricted condemnation. Freedom of expression is no doubt precious but freedom to live is in fact the highest of all Freedoms .When people are brutally gunned down you have not condemned the blood thirsty thugs of a particular religious ideology .Is it to prove your secular credentials? .So blame the government for not providing security for this artist who even at the age of 95 cannot resist from perversion, sadism and voyeurism.
Why this so tolerant Qatar and all the other Islamic countries not offering citizenship to Taslima? Why is she hunted and hounded? Tell me about freedom of expression and what an embarrassment to India that its celebrated painter is in exile. So what is the solution-withdraw all the cases-protect his paintings and give security to the man who with his brush is a jehadi. Why can’t he stop hurting the Hindus and their feelings? Why can’t he apologize for his erotic and blasphemous paintings of the Hindu gods and goddesses? If he loves India and misses it then he has to embrace all that is Indian-has to respect all its citizens and in the present context contribute his mite through paintings to create harmony and not indulge in just the opposite. Husain is like any other citizen and his freedom is not unrestricted.
Brown Dan’s book ‘Da Vinci code’ was found offensive-Salman Rushdie’s ‘Satanic Verse’ was banned and a fatwa given out-the Danish cartoonist too is under the threat of a fatwa. This is the Islamic tradition from which Husain must be viewed. Men and women of Fine Arts have unrestricted freedom of expression only in the realm of Hindus and Hinduism. But when it comes to other religions and its icons their freedom of expression evaporates.
Voices of dissent need also to be heeded in a democracy and the Fourth Estate should continue to be a pillar of democracy-towards that I fervently wish.
Dr Mrs Hilda Raja

March 3, 2010 at 4:26 pm 6 comments


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