Bombings in India (June 4, 2008)

Terrorists assume for themselves the right to target anyone and anything which upsets their religious and ethonationalist tenets.

It never ceases to amaze us how terrorists are so closed to freedom of speech.

MUMBAI, INDIA — Have you ever read a book, attended a play or watched a movie/show you did not like? I sure have. When my wife and I had tickets to the National Arts Centre (NAC) in Ottawa I cannot recall how many performances we walked out on at intermission (they were that bad in our opinion). And I am pretty sure we are not the only couple in Canada which looks for something to watch on Netflix/Britbox/Acorn only to spend an hour on ten different shows, each of which we keep at for five minutes before we turn to each other and simultaneously ‘Nope!’

It is perfectly permissible – if not mandatory when it comes to professional critics – to pan a piece of performance art or a work of literature. While we can appreciate the effort that goes into the creative process we do not have to like the product. And we can vote with our feet, or our wallets.

What we cannot do is kill those whose interpretations of culture, events, etc. with which we disagree. That should at least be universally accepted.

Tell that to the terrorists.

There have been far too many occasions on which violent extremists have killed (or attempted to kill) artists simply because the terrorists decided that whatever they did maligned god, or a particular group, or whatever. The Iranian regime’s reaction to Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses is perhaps one of the most famous ‘uncharitable reviews’. And then there was the 2015 terrorist attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for publishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

There appear to be a lot of things over which some terrorists get their knickers in a knot. Today’s featured attack is a good example. On June 4, 2008 two men (aged 34 and 50) claiming affiliation to a right-wing organisation called the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS – Committee for the Hindu Renaissance) were arrested for two bombings outside Mumbai. While no one was killed seven people were injurded. The targets were those who screened a film the terrorists felt “caricaturised Hindu deities and insulted Hindu sentiments”. The HJS had earlier staged protests against the screening of the movie and the producer of the play. In 2011 the two men received ten-year jail sentences.

Last time I checked freedom of religion includes freedom FROM religion. And while I don’t think we should wantonly insult beliefs which mean a lot to a lot of people I also reject those who take the law into their own hands and target others. As the Quran says: “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion”.

Are you listening terrorists?

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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