Monday, July 23, 2012

"The Sunday Indian" interview with Sanal Edamaruku

'This will end in my favour'

Sanal Edamaruku

KS NARAYANAN | Issue Dated: July 13, 2012, New Delhi

What is your reaction to the charges against you?

The charges are false. It is a case of malicious prosecution. They are angry that I have exposed their much propagated “miracle” of the dripping crucifix as interplay of blocked drainages and capillary action – in terms of applied science. My explanation stands factually correct and appropriate. Section 295A of the IPC criminalises “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings”. It is a chewing gum law. With its vague wording, it has been often misused in the past to settle scores and silence opponents. In any case, the provisions of the Section are not applicable to this case by any stretch of the imagination. Stating evidence-based facts, even if they are disturbing for somebody, is not punishable under the laws of the land.

Do you think the decision to arrest you has large support from irrational people and fanatics?
The auxiliary bishop of Mumbai publicly appreciates those who have levelled charges against me. He “rejoices” about their “courage”. It is in the interest of the Catholic Church to silence me, even if the dirty work is done by some fanatic fools. Today, they cannot burn me alive as they burned Giordano Bruno. They have to try “legal” ways. I do not see that my persecutors have any public support beyond a very narrow circle of insiders. On the other hand, there is a wave of goodwill for me, in India as well as abroad. Even devoted Catholics have written to me and expressed regret and embarrassment about this case.

What legal recourse are you taking in the case?
My lawyers are working on several levels. I very much expect this to end in my favour. It is just a question of time (and unfortunately of money also). Moreover, I expect that we will be able to take the “blasphemy” law out of the hands of those who misuse it. This law has to go. It contradicts the right to Freedom of Expression (Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). In my case, it also stands against the Indian Constitution that explicitly obliges all citizens to develop “scientific temper” and “spirit of inquiry”. This is perfectly in line with our rationalist approach.

Do you worry of the backlash when you explain the rationality behind myths?
Had I been afraid of any backlash, I would not have been able to achieve much. That I gained such a respected public position and that I have the chance to inspire millions of people to take at least some steps towards a more self-determined life without irrational fear and submission, is due to the fact that I do not care about possible backlashes. But if they come, we shall certainly handle them. It is not that I am naive and don’t see the dangers. But I do not respect threats.

Do you think large sections of the mainstream media have ignored your plight?
If the mainstream media is The Hindu, The Hindustan Times, The Times of India, Daily News & Analysis and the others, they did report and comment on the case. All of them were broadly on our side, some with excellent articles. I am quite happy with the media response so far.  

KS Narayanan

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