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Sunday, February 28, 2010
MF Hussain, final thoughts
The real issue is, how do we deal with things we don't like?
I am proud of our democracy; we are willing to debate the issue in a civil manner. Even those who have the tendency to shut others up, do indeed see the value in a dialogue. We are not Talibans, we are a civil society.
Purely from an Indian context; from a Hindu Point of view as well as the Muslim point of view the paintings are offensive. Given that I would suggest that those painting be put out of circulation and let Hussain live his life freely again, and take up on his own, the challenge of painting something that would create harmony in the society.
Now the other items for us to ponder.
Hussain’s paintings are not acceptable to Muslims. We abhor those paintings. Islam prohibits him from painting any picture, let alone nude pictures. Islam also forbids one to make mockery of other faiths. Hussain has violated both. I am not defending Hussain at all.
If he were to be in Afghanistan, Iran or Saudi Arabia, he would have been killed. As a nation, do we want us to be like Afghanistan?
Most Muslims including me were against banning Rushdie's book, we wrote against it and spoke against it. I appealed to the fanatic binge among Muslims to ignore the cartoons, instead I had asked them to pray that goodwill prevails, and several mosques have done that. We severely criticized those few Muslims who harassed Taslima Nasreen, and urged them to have an intellectual debate with her, we not only condemned those guys in Hyderabad who mauled her, but asked the Government of Andhra to file charges against them.
Why does he not paint Maryam and Fatima? Because that is not the tradition, one visit to Khajuraho and other places you’ll figure out our tradtions real quick. Artists choose their own subjects, no one is going to tell them what to paint, then he would not be an artist, artists and ego go together and we have to value that if we want art to survive.
Those paintings were offensive and need to be dealt with in a civil manner to the good of the society at large. We have to respect the laws we have on the books, they are made with a purpose of good for the society at large.
GIVEN THE INDIAN CONTEXT, DO WE UNDERSTAND THAT;
1. Those paintings are offensive in our contemporary culture
2. Regardless of our religions, those paintings are distasteful
3. Freedom comes with responsibility to society at large
4. Artists do not select their subjects to hate any one
5. The artist did not have mal-intention when he painted it
6. The artists* to abstain from painting what offends society
7. That the artist has the freedom to apologize or not.
8. That the artist has the right to live safely in India
9. That the painting be ignored and not published
THE LARGER QUESTIONS:
1. Regulate freedom of expression, all expression?
2. Should we regulate what artists cannot do?
3. Should we regulate what films cannot be produced?
4. Should we regulate what speeches cannot be made?
5. Should we regulate what cannot be published?
6. Should we have democracy as our system of governance?
7. Should we agree that we should have differing opinions?
Freedom should be our ultimate goal; the market will work itself out.
On the one hand, let them paint cartoons, nude pictures, or whatever they wish, and let’s not ban them, instead grade them like we do with the movies. Had those Muslims not made a fuss with the cartoons, the issue would have died down. There was a thrill seeking by the painters and those agitators both in that instance, however in the case of Hussain, he has been painting these pictures for a long time and was not doing to hurt anyone, he was just doing what was appreciated by his clientele, mainly people of Hindu faith. Unless someone can prove that he was doing to hurt anyone he remains an artist with his own passion.
I do not like those paintings, they are offensive to me. My reverence for Mother Sita does not allow me to see those paintings. It is not Islamic either, and Muslims did not ask him to paint his subjects. He is an artist, and as a society, we need to determine what kind of society we want to be and we need to address the question of freedom.
From a Hindu Point of view as well as the Muslim point of view the paintings are offensive and for the time being need to be kept out of circulation. The more fuss is made, the greater the offense. Given that I would suggest that those painting be put out of circulation and let Hussain live his life freely again, and take up the challenge of painting something that would create harmony in the society.